If you and your spouse have decided to explore marriage counseling together, you may be wondering how to find a marriage counselor that is right for you.
There are a few key things to consider before selecting a marriage counselor you trust to guide you through the healing process together. Everything from educational background to cost will play a role in your final decision.
In this article, you will discover those key considerations and learn how to find a marriage counselor you can trust.
How to Find a Marriage Counselor (9 Helpful Tips)
Marriage counseling is something all couples can benefit from at different times throughout a marriage. It can be a great way to improve your relationship with your spouse. After all, no marriage is perfect.
Some reports show the American Psychological Association has been researching the effectiveness of marriage counseling. According to these reports, therapy was found to be 75 percent effective. This is a great finding offering hope to many couples.
1. Training and Education
One of the most important things to look for when searching for a marriage counselor is their background. If a person claims to be a marriage counselor and their only qualification is that they have been married for forty years, they are not professionally qualified to provide therapy.
At minimum, your counselor should have a master’s degree in counseling or a psychology related degree. It is even better if they are licensed and certified in the specialized field of marriage and family therapy.
Licensures and certifications are given to those who have completed the appropriate education, along with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of practical experiences working in the field. This means they have spent an enormous amount of time providing marriage therapy to those in need. It also means they have done this while being supervised by higher qualified, licensed professionals.
In addition to education and experience, good marriage counselors acquire training hours every year. Meaning, they attend conferences, webinars, and seminars to better their knowledge in the field of marriage counseling.
2. Cost per Session
Costs may vary among licensed marriage and family therapists. However, there should not be an extreme variance. Most counselor’s rates are relatively close. Reasons for a difference include location, agency for which they are employed, expenses such as office rent, and if they have more qualifications or other specialty training.
It is important you find the therapist that you can afford, or one that can work with you on a sliding scale or reduced fee cost. Most therapists will do their best to help you when it comes to fees. If you have health insurance, you can find a therapist who is a provider with your insurance company, so your cost would only be a co-pay.
3. Scheduling and Availability
Scheduling appointments for counseling can be tricky if you work full-time or have other obligations that take up most of your day. However, there are many counseling agencies and self-employed marriage and family therapists who offer early morning and evening hours.
Some marriage therapists can offer flexible scheduling if you explain to them your situation. If the cannot accommodated you, they may be able to refer you to another therapist who can meet your scheduling needs.
4. Additional Expertise
Marriage and Family therapists are not always just marriage and family therapists. Meaning, they have expertise in other areas, such as addiction or specific mental health disorders.
Your marriage may also have multiple issues. For instance, you or your spouse may be struggling with addiction, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, or one of the many hundreds of mental health disorders. If this is the case, you want a therapist who can help you with both general and specific issues.
Many therapists have certifications and licenses in multiple areas.
5. Ask Friends, Family and Colleagues
One of the best ways to find a therapist is through word of mouth from family members, co-workers, friends and others you respect and trust. If you have heard a friend talk about the success they had with a therapist, ask them for more information.
Interview your reference to find out their therapeutic style, what is expected of you during the process, cost, hours and anything else you want to know to help you decide.
6. Setting Clear Goals
This means you are on the same page with your therapist in trying to save your marriage.
If you realize at some point that saving your marriage is not the right path, then you and your therapist need to be on the same path of closing the relationship in a healthy manner.
6. Preparation and Guidance
Your therapist should always include you in the planning of your treatment. This includes setting goals with you and your spouse, updating you on whether you are meeting these goals or not, and utilizing appropriate methods of therapy.
This is essential.
Your marriage counselor should keep you in the loop so you always know what to expect while on your journey.
7. Tools and Exercises
While cognitive behavioral therapy has seen great success in helping couples resolve issues, it is important your therapist implement other counseling tools throughout your sessions. Using multiple techniques ensures you are learning more than one way to resolve marital issues.
8. Status Updates and Progression
Are you seeing positive progress in your marriage? This question should be asked after each session with your therapist. If you are not seeing any progress after many weeks of therapy, it may be time to switch therapists. Furthermore, if you are seeing negative progress and things are getting worse in your marriage, seeking someone else for help is necessary, and do not wait long to do so.
9. Remaining Neutral
Your marriage and family therapist should not take sides. Neither you nor your spouse should ever feel ganged up on in therapy. Your therapist should help both of you feel heard without making the other feel bad.
This ensures you and your spouse feel comfortable throughout the process.
Marriage counseling is remarkably effective, but that is not to say it is easy to get started. The key is finding the right marriage counselor for your needs, both as an individual and a couple.
Keeping these considerations in mind during your search will ensure your search is successful so you can start the healing process.
Now that you know how to find a marriage counselor you can trust with some of your most personal concerns, you are ready to get started.