by Todd Creager
You’re having problems with your partner and you feel totally stuck – you have to do something and a friend suggests marriage counseling.
Your relationship is so important to you and you want the best possible chance to save your marriage.
What makes a good marriage therapist? What should you be looking for to determine if a particular therapist is the right one?
Many Therapists Say They Do Marriage Therapy And They Do
However, working with a couple takes a different set of skills than working with an individual.
You want to find out if the therapist truly specializes in couples therapy.
I look at ads that therapists place in magazines and the Yellow Pages and will often find someone who lists 10 specialties including marriage counseling.
I am suspicious of that; is the therapist someone who wants to get business from all the problem areas or is he really an expert in all those listed types of problems.
I can tell you that I have been practicing for 28 years and I would consider myself an expert in only a very few areas and probably competent in a few more.
Look for someone who has a true focus in couples issues; someone who has dedicated his or her professional life to help couples.
The Prospective Marriage Counselor Needs To Give You The Best Chance Of Working Through Difficult Challenges
The therapist needs to be able to appreciate marital difficulties and embrace problems.
Relationship problems are inevitable and help us grow and develop.
Problems are not “bad” and marriages are far from perfect.
He needs to be able to stay positive and optimistic even when you are doubtful.
Therefore, you might want to ask the prospective marriage counselor her attitude and beliefs toward marriage and marriage problems.
Ask her when she believes a person should give up on a marriage and see how you feel about her answer.
I don’t believe that all marriages should last, but many serious problems are “invitations to grow up” as opposed to reasons to break up!
I do not believe that a divorced marriage counselor disqualifies the person from being effective but I would want my marriage counselor to have experienced a long term relationship. Think about your current marital issues and see if it matches with the marriage counselor’s life experiences.
For example, if I am having co-parenting issues with my spouse, I may want to have a marriage counselor who has been married with children so that he could relate to some of my challenges. You could ask the prospective therapist if he has ever been married, for how long and if he has any children.
This, of course, is a gray area and you need to decide what feels right to you.
Lastly, I Would Ask The Prospective Counselor If The Therapy Is At Least In Part Experiential
Effective marriage counseling involves the partners experiencing shifts during the session.
Talking to the therapist is necessary to understand the couple and build some rapport.
However, there needs to be opportunities for the couple to do the “work” in the session with the therapist observing, commenting and restructuring. Homework assignments are also vitally important.
I would definitely ask the prospective counselor if she gives homework so that they can work on the relationship in between sessions.
There are talented and gifted marriage counselors and by asking the right questions and using discrimination, you have a higher chance at finding one of those talented professionals.
Your relationship is valuable; treat it as such and find the qualified person you want when you need assistance.
From Sarah: Todd Creager is an accomplished Speaker, Therapist, Consultant and Author. At his website: The Todd Creager Center for Successful Relationships, you can find out more about how to have a successful relationship.