Getting help with your relationship can feel daunting. Perhaps you are worried you will be blamed or that you are even to blame. Walking into a therapist’s office may feel like entering the lion’s den. Consequently, many people will live unhappily in a relationship and/or end a significant relationship without ever seeking professional advice. And that’s a shame, because good couples therapy will not overly focus on you (or your partner). What it will do is help you both garner the skills to create a relationship that feels connected and rewarding.
Finding the right marriage therapist for you is important and worth the effort. Getting referrals from happy customers is a great way to go. However, if talking to friends feels awkward or embarrassing then doing research online can be an excellent way to find a couple’s therapist. Below are three features to look for in a therapist.
First: Choose a therapist who has specific training in couples’ therapy. Choosing a therapist trained in an evidenced based approach is important. The great news is research shows that couples therapy is highly effective; however, this research analyzes data specific to evidenced based approaches, such as Emotionally Focused Therapy. When it comes to couples’ therapy in general, customer satisfaction is notoriously low; this may be because many couples work with therapists who are not specifically trained, which results in a bad experience. In my office, I have heard these sad tales firsthand. Once you have a bad experience, it can be very difficult to find the motivation to try someone else. Couples counseling is complex and requires unique, specific skills. Having a trained couples’ therapist is important to having a satisfying experience.
Second: Choose a therapist who largely focuses on couples. A good question to ask a prospective therapist is what percentage their practice is devoted to couples. If the answer is greater than fifty percent then that is a good sign. The higher the better. Having a therapist who focuses on the unique aspects of couples will increase the likelihood that you will have a good experience.
Third: Call and meet the therapist. Once you find a therapist that meets the above requirements, then schedule a call. Most therapist will offer a 15 to 30 minute call where you can ask questions and get a better feel. If all goes well then schedule an appointment. It’s important that both partners feel connected and trust the therapist. This is a key ingredient to successful therapy. If one partner feels uncertain about the therapist then tell the therapist. This may feel scary or rude (it isn’t), however, stating your concerns to your therapist can be a powerful changer in the therapy-couple relationship. A good therapist will hear your concerns and work at adequately addressing them and/or offer referrals if it is agreed that the fit is not right.
This is your time and money, so invest in finding the right couples therapist for you. Your relationship is worth it!