Marriage Counselors come in all shapes and sizes. While some handle their work with excellence, others are mediocre. A good marriage counselor works towards making the relationship stronger, not weaker.
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However, finding the right marriage counselor is not easy. Given the key role of a marriage therapist in healing and repairing the relationship, a lot of care should be taken when choosing a suitable professional.
You may have to make a comparison between different counselors in order to get a suitable one for your relationship. Here are 14 tips to help you find the right marriage counselor:
Start by Paying a Visit to the Marriage Counselor
Before you start working with a specific marriage counselor, first pay him or her a visit. Don’t just show up uninvited. Give them a call to book an appointment. A good counselor will certainly grant you permission to visit.
He or she is willing to spend a few minutes with you. Of course, the sessions are yet to begin. What the counselor is doing is preparing you for things to expect when you start the sessions. This meeting also helps the counselor to decide if he or she will work with you or not.
Ask If He or She Treats Marriage as the Client
During the pre-counseling session, find out if the counselor focusses on marriage and nothing else. If he or she seems not to understand what that means, don’t waste time before signing up for his or her services. A good marriage counselor should be more concerned with saving the relationship.
As such, the counselor should not look at one of you as the main client and the other as an addition. He or she should be willing to respectfully deal with the two of you. In this case, the client is the marriage. If not, then the counselor may end up worsening your relationship.
Find Out About His or Her Success Rate
Establish from the marriage counselor how successful he or she has been with past clients. If they tell you they have saved 9 out 10 marriages, prod further to know what that means. Is it the number of couples who have stayed together after going through their hands?
Does the counselor mean those who have listened to him and implemented the suggested strategies? You need to be clear if you are dealing with someone with the ability to save your marriage.
Can They Work In Conformity With Your Values Or Belief System?
While on the pre-counseling visit, it is important to find out if the counselor is willing to work within your belief system. If they agree to do so, go ahead and tell them the things you hold dear. For example, you could hold a strong belief that a marriage should last for a lifetime.
Thus a good counselor should share your beliefs. If the counselor agrees with you, then go ahead and sign up for their services. If he or she seems to hesitate, then keep prodding until you find out exactly where the marriage counselor stands.
Get A Counselor Who Focusses On the Future Not The Past
A good marriage counselor is one who is forward focused and not one who looks backward. By training, counselors tend to focus on the wrong things you did to get here. While that’s important, it is not something that the counselor should dwell on too much.
It shouldn’t just be about what you and your spouse did wrong or the problems you have. That backward-looking counseling could only make wounds fester.
So ask the counselor if his or her primary focus is going to be on the past. A good marriage counselor should only seek to understand the past so as to know how to drive the relationship forward. After all, no one wants to dwell in the past when they are making every effort to have a stronger relationship.
The Counselor Should Be Ready To Protect You Are Your Spouse Equally
Part of a marriage counselor’s work is to protect each of the married partners. It looks awkward when you end up in a counseling session where your partner says every conceivable negative thing about you.
In that case, it is the work of the counselor to provide protection. The same goes for a situation where is it you maligning your partner.
The counselor must promise to intervene and offer emotional protection with the aim of focusing on the future. If anything, focusing on negative emotions doesn’t help the relationship in any way.
Offering Guidance, Not Definite Direction
The work of a counselor is to provide guidance. He or she shouldn’t aim at directing you on what to do. If the marriage counselor tells you the exact things to do to save the relationship, run. The work of the counselor begins by understanding where the relationship is.
He or she has analyzed the relationship and understands what could have gone wrong. The counselor should then guide you on strategies to fix the relationship. All that should be focused on making the relationship better in the future.
As such, a marriage counselor is an educator and teacher. He or she makes it easier for you to understand what needs to be done. However, the counselor leaves you with all the power to decide the direction the relationship should take.
What is The Counselor’s Area of Expertise?
Marriage counseling exists in different forms and not all of them are geared towards guiding couples through tough phases of their relationships. It helps to research the types of counselors you are likely to encounter. Things to consider when looking for a good marriage counselor include gender and expertise.
Bear in mind that not all marriage counselors are trained to handle couples. Some can, at best, deal with an individual. Yet what you need is a counselor who can handle you as a couple.
The gender of the counselor is also an important consideration. At best, the professional you pick should be able to leave you and your spouse at ease. Both of you need to be equally committed to the counseling sessions to get anything out of them. When a marriage counselor is trustworthy to both of you, then the sessions will start off on a good note.
What Are Their Views About Marriage?
Make sure you know what the counselor thinks about marriage. Do they have casual or strong views? The right therapist is one who believes that all relationships, no matter worse, can be repaired. He or she should hold the view that goodwill combined with effort can result in reconciliation.
This is important for couples who are looking to restore their relationships after undergoing marriage counseling. Who goes for marriage counseling with the view of ending a relationship, anyway? Most couples who seek help view the therapist as someone capable of helping them to rebuild the relationship.
The counselor should, of necessity, hold the belief that rekindling the romance between the two of you is still possible. He or she is optimistic that change is possible and the relationship strengthened.
When issues crop up in your relationship, the easiest person to talk to should be the marriage counselor. Counseling is two-way traffic and should basically involve both of you talking freely. It is the work of the therapist to provide an environment where the expression of opinions and sharing is possible. According to Psychology Today, you should choose a counselor both of you can work with.
The counseling session shouldn’t escalate into a situation where neither you nor your partner cannot share sensitive issues. Also, it should not get to a point where only one of you is willing to talk. Remember that the two of you should be willing to freely talk for you to be able to resolve issues.
So only choose a marriage counselor who makes both of you open up and talk freely. He or she should know when to listen and when to offer advice.
Ability to Identify the Goals of the Session
When planning for a counseling session, there are several things you need to look at. However, you cannot rebuild a broken relationship if you, your partner, and the marriage specialist are not on the same page concerning the goals of the session.
Usually, the groundwork is laid during the first and second sessions. That way, you can be on the same page concerning the expected outcome of the whole exercise.
Of necessity, the marriage counselor shouldn’t have a divergent point of view or expected outcome than what the two of you think. Otherwise, you will not be able to get the help you need. Even when the two of you are unsure of the expected end, the therapist should help you come up with a roadmap towards a stronger relationship.
Cost of Therapy
A marriage counselor could be so good only for you to be limited by the cost of the sessions. Find out how much you will pay and if you can afford it. If you are endowed with an abundance of resources, then you shouldn’t have a problem with the cost.
In most cases, it is the level of the client’s income that determines the kind of counselor they can work with. However, there are counselors who are willing to fit within the client’s budget. Even so, there are some therapists that will still charge you when you skip a session.
If you and your partner can’t attend any of the sessions, be sure to cancel in advance. In most cases, marriage counselors do not accept payment via your health insurance card. Thus the therapist should make that known from the outset.
The Counselor’s Personality
The therapist’s personality is one of the key considerations when picking a marriage counselor. If anything, the personality of the counselor has a huge bearing on the possible outcome of the session. It is important that the marriage counselor is able to alternate between taking the lead and assuming the backseat.
However, it doesn’t mean that he or she should have yours or your partner’s personality. What’s important is that the counselor understands the issues in the relationship and how to resolve them.
When you encounter a marriage counselor whose personality clashes with either of yours, the results will be unpleasant. Instead of strengthening the relationship, the counselor may end up pulling the two of you further apart. That’s why you should look for a marriage counselor with a personality that’s as close enough to yours and your spouse’s as possible.
That’s why you need to establish if there is compatibility between the marriage counselor and any of the two of you. Use the first few sessions to find out. If there’s no connection, why don’t you simply pick another therapist?
Schedule of the Counseling Sessions
It is important to schedule the marriage counseling sessions in such a way that both of you will get time to attend. Of necessity, the schedule should be predictable enough for you and your spouse to stick to. It should conform to your professional and personal lives. However, the counseling sessions take place daily. Have a session weekly or fortnightly is enough.
Additionally, don’t make the sessions too long. Lengthy meetings may unnecessarily prolong the conversation and make you start discussing unnecessary issues. Even so, failure to set aside enough time may leave out issues that should have been discussed. So work on the number and length of sessions before your engagement with the therapist starts.
With these 14 tips, finding the right marriage counselor should be simple and easy. If you do not find the right therapist, then chances of reclaiming your marriage are very low.
It is important to note that a good counselor is one whose focus is on strengthening the marriage and not hastening the divorce. To succeed in your relationship, make sure you only work with the best.