How to Find a Good Marriage Counselor?
We have all heard horror stories about counselors who made a situation worse or seemed to waste everybodies time. There definitely are good therapists and bad therapists. There are therapists that are good in some areas, but not good with couples. There are also good marriage counselors who might not be good for you or your marriage. Finding a good marriage counselor is crucial to saving your marriage. You don’t want to waste time with a good person who might be a bad fit for your marriage. Here are ten aspects to finding the best counselor for you.
1. Ask others: A personal recommendation from your pastor, a friend or someone who has had success from a marriage counselor is a great way to start. Word-of-mouth referrals are best.
2. Check them out on the web: Its amazing what you might find out about who a counselor is, specialties they have, accomplishments they have or even problems they’ve encountered. One click can give you a lot of information.
3. Interview them: Find out about: education, degrees, training, specialty areas and experience. They need to be competent in marriage and couple therapy. A good individual counselor doesn’t necessarily make a good couple counselor.
4. Discuss philosophy: Are they committed to trying to save marriages? What are their feelings about divorce and when it is an option? Are they encouraging and optimistic in finding creative ways to restructure your marriage?
5. Get personal: Explore how long they have been married and how long they have been working with couples. Ask about their faith and how it might influence their counseling.
6. Explore their approach: Look for a counselor who listens, but is not passive; one who understands your past, but focuses on your future; one who is honest about your problems, but determined to find a solution.
7. Try them out: Go to the first session and gather information. Find out if it’s a good fit. Yet the important issue isn’t whether they agree with you, but if they can help you.
8. Trust your intuition: You need a therapist who you feel is competent and who you believe you can trust. You should feel comfortable and respected by whoever you see.
9. Let them challenge you: A good counselor will help you understand better yourself, your spouse and your marriage. They will also stretch you. It will involve hard work and assignments. But hang in there.
10. Be open to change: You are in your current situation because what you are doing isn’t working. You both need to try something different. Don’t just expect your partner to change, you change too.
Most marriages can survive the toughest times as long as both of you are willing to try. A good marriage counselor will help you navigate the challenges, frustrations, hurts, unfairness and confusions of marriage. If one of the two of you thinks you need marriage counseling, then you need counseling. Don’t resist or postpone finding a counselor. Remember, there are no perfect counselors. Yet there are many good ones. Do your research and make an appointment. Jump into the process and learn how to fall back in love again. You can do it, but we all need a little help to make it all it can be. You can do it!
Dr. Steve Stephens