Picking a marriage counselor is serious business. Marriages are precious to each partner as well as other family members such as children. When they are in trouble, it is so important to get the right person who has the best chance of helping the couple through their dilemma. How can you know who is the right marriage counselor? What questions should you ask? What are the most important things to focus on when choosing a marriage professional?
Many therapists claim they do marriage therapy, but only a small percentage actually specialize in it. These specialists go to advanced trainings as well as do trainings themselves. Since they are focused on their field of expertise, there is a far greater chance that they have cutting edge techniques. Also, they have had more experience and that alone helps these counselors pick up on the subtle nuances that couples can exhibit that could help these counselors pick more effective approaches and solutions.
Part of therapy is talk. You talk to your therapist so that he gets to know you and he or she talks to you back. In addition though, you want to ask the marriage counselor if he makes you work during the session. Does he give the couple a chance to experience a shift within the session so that you might “feel” the change rather than just talk about change? And it is also important that the counselor gives you homework in between sessions to practice.
A therapist who has been through the trials and tribulations of marriage will be in a better position to understand you in a deep enough way to help. The marriage counselor will not give you superficial platitudes to deal with deep, complex issues. This therapist can be empathic and not have you rush to quick decisions to end a marriage if it has some messy components to it.
As a marriage therapist, I do everything I can to keep marriages together. I believe in the institution of marriage; however, there are times that keeping a marriage together can be toxic to one or both people. The counselor should not be extreme in his or her thinking whether it is to keep a marriage together or to helpfully assist them to separate.
Marriage counseling is an art as well as a science. Graduate school is just a beginning for clinicians to hone their skills. It takes at least a few years for marriage counselors to learn from their mistakes and to develop the confidence to challenge each partner when needed. Marriage counseling takes this kind of confidence to handle the intense emotions that emerge throughout the sessions.
Getting the best possible help is often the cheapest way to go. Going to the marriage counselor who i the best deal may lead to poor results. This can then lead to partners more discouraged than before who may have to start all over with a new therapist (and new expenses) or worse yet give up on marriage counseling altogether.
You want someone who has weathered some storms. Youth is great for many things, but helping couples in long term relationships may not be one of them. Of course there can be exceptions, but when it comes to trusting a professional with your intimate relationship, I would go with the better odds of a more mature professional.
If the counselor meets all the above criteria and has an office close to your home, that is a great bonus. However, don’t be quick to pick a marriage professional just because that person is convenient to get to.
It is normal for partners to have different levels of approval for a counselor. However, if one of the partners lacks confidence in the clinician or has an immediate negative sense about that clinician, it may be better to explore other options.
Marriage therapy is not for the feint of heart. Your marriage counselor needs to be ready to confront you or your partner. Ask the marriage counselor about his style and if he tends to challenge the person. If the answer leaves you wondering, you may want to pass.
You want to pick a marriage counselor who has a good amount of experience and who focuses on marital issues as his focus of work. It is also important to get a counselor who will help you experience change and not just talk about it. Listen to your feelings and do not be overly persuaded by price or location. Your marriage is a precious commodity and you want it to be in the hands of someone who honors and believes in the sanctity of marriage, but is also willing to make the therapy fit the needs of your particular relationship situation.
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