How To Choose a Good Therapist
Choosing a Marriage Therapist - Some Important Considerations
When you are choosing a therapist or counselor to help you with your marriage you should first be on the lookout for someone who is qualified. It is important to find someone who is licensed and experienced, as well as someone who practices marriage-friendly therapy.
Therapist Differences and Similarities
Marriage Counselors are similar to each other and yet unique. Some ways that therapists are similar and unique include:
- There is at least some overlap in training - even in different professions, even in different schools of thought.
- There is at least some overlap in understanding after many years of practice.
- There are also differences in beliefs regarding marriage, for example: Is it a commitment until one person is no longer interested, or is it a life-long commitment?
- There are differences in attitudes toward marriage, for example: Should the couple have to work on the relationship to make it good, or should it happen naturally?
- There are many other possible differences in style and personality, including the question of confronting character issues directly or not, or even ignoring them.
- There can be personal life-style issues that create differences. For example: If the therapist is involved with porn, is having an affair, or is having marital problems, among other issues.
Unfortunately, each of these factors and more will influence the marriage therapist's effectiveness in your situation. There are therapists who say, "I will consider this successful treatment whether you stay together or divorce." I think you have to question that counselor's commitment to working out your problem.
What to Look For in a Marriage Counselor
A Licensed Professional With Ethical Standards
You are about to bare your most personal selves to someone. Before revealing really private information about yourself, you want to find someone who has been screened by a board of his or her professional peers for both character and knowledge, and is always held to the highest ethical standards by that board.
This would be any licensed mental-health professional in your state, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker (these may vary state by state).
The Therapist will Impact the Outcome of Therapy
Ultimately, when choosing a therapist to help you work on your marriage, you should find a therapist who has beliefs and convictions that resonate with you. Any beliefs that a counselor or therapist holds can directly impact the outcome of your counseling sessions together (learn more about my beliefs in counseling for better marriages).
Active and Directive Methods Versus Passive Methods
Something else to look out for when you are selecting a marriage counselor is whether the therapist is more passive or more active and directive (I am on the more active side). You probably want someone who will not just sit back and let you argue or flounder - most couples I see have been doing too much of that anyway. I think a more active and directive approach can help you feel more comfortable and help you work through your issues in a more orderly way.
A Marriage Counselor Who Believes in Your Marriage
The most important thing when choosing a marriage counselor is to find a therapist who believes in your marriage. You are investing the time and energy into counseling because you think there is a chance to fix what you have. You want to make sure that you select a professional who will do everything possible to make your marriage work.
Take a clear stand in favor of your marriage.
Learning Communication and Emotional Skills for the Long Run
You want to find a counselor who will teach you and your spouse skills that are necessary for a happy marriage, so that you can apply the therapy on your own.
Many of you will need to learn emotional skills such as anger management to help you work through problems in your marriage.
A good counselor can help you to learn to express your emotional feelings in a safe, effective and loving way, so that your partner can understand and communicate with you.
You want to find a therapist who will help you learn effective communication skills that can help you and your spouse communicate well in the long run. A lot of couples go to counseling sessions and get very good at discussing things with the marriage counselor, but have difficulty improving their communication with each other.
I hope this has sensitized you to some of the issues involved in choosing a marriage therapist to help fix your troubled marriage.
Wishing you all the best in finding the right counselor for you,