Choosing a marriage therapist can be a difficult task, but when you know what types of questions to ask before you get into therapy, you can make the decision much easier. A lot of therapists are well-meaning, but unless they are trained to help couples, they could make things worse. Here are some guidelines on choosing a good counselor when you are looking for marriage therapy.
Know Your Own Goals
Why do you want to attend marriage counseling? Are you trying to save your relationship? Is it in crisis? Or do you want a professional to help you learn to communicate better? Some marriage counselors are neutral, while others will help you work toward your goals.
Is the Therapist Willing to Have a 10 to 15 Minute Phone Interview Before You Make an Appointment?
You are hiring a professional to work with you on a very serious matter. It’s a job interview for them. If your therapist isn’t willing to answer a few questions before you start to determine compatibility and experience, then you should move on.
Ask What Type of Training and Education Do You Have?
Licensed counselors by the state are generally required to have a graduate degree in mental health and clinical supervision. Look for a credentialed therapist with additional training and supervision in marriage counseling. Counseling an individual is much different than working with a couple.
Ask What Is Your Experience With Our Problem? And You Might Even Ask About The Success Rate
You should ask about the therapist’s experience with specific issues. If your marriage is dealing with an affair, you want someone who has helped other couples work through the issue, if that is your goal. Dealing with in-laws and stepfamilies is a different situation than communication issues. Find someone who is well-versed in your situation.
When Do You Suggest Divorce as an Option?
A therapist’s answer to this question is very telling. You want a therapist who will help you work toward your relationship goals, not one who will throw in the towel. Does the therapist focus on the past or work forward toward reconciliation?
Trust Your Instincts
If you or your spouse isn’t comfortable with the therapist or the direction the therapy is moving, find another therapist. You’ll know quickly if your therapist is helping your marriage or not. Usually, in just two or three session, you’ll feel like you’re working toward your goals or not. When your marriage is in crisis, you don’t want to tread water. You need a therapist who will help you swim.