If there’s one mistake that couples make too often, it’s not finding a good marriage counselor. No, not all marriage counselors are created equal. Not even marriage counselors with the same training are created equal. So if you’re a couple and are looking for a good marriage counselor here are some tips to help you find a good marriage counselor that’s right for you. Below are three simple but crucial things to look for in a good therapist. Take notes because these are things you’ll want to ask them about on the phone, too
3) How much do you charge and what are your hours?
This may seem like a no brainer but I can’t tell you how many times I schedule an appointment on the phone and when the couple comes in they feel shocked and/or decieved that I don’t accept their insurance. Even though I explain to them that all this information is posted on my website (www.themarriageandfamilyclinic.com) some are still shocked because they just didn’t know. This is unfortunate because it often leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of the couple and taints their views about therapy. Even though you might feel cheap asking for the therapists’ rate over the phone, you’re really doing both you and the therapist a favor to get this out of the way first thing – before you make a trip to their office.
Also, after the first session when it comes time to reschedule they state that they are not able to see me during my regular business hours and that they had to alter their schedule to come see me today. This is unfortunate because the first session is always the toughest session. It’s a lot of get-to-know-you, a lot of paperwork and it’s really exhausting for clients to expose a lot of their marital problems to a stranger. To have to go through this a second time with another therapist just because of a schedule conflict is especially difficult. Do yourself a favor and do your homework beforehand. Ask the therapist on the phone what their rates and what their hours are.
2) How much experience do you have working with couples with our specific problem?
This one will require you to give a little bit of explanation but a good marriage counselor will usually ask over the phone for you to give a brief description of what you’re coming in for so that they can come prepared to the first session. The reason you want to ask this question is because each marriage is unique and you may have a unique difficulty which the therapist hasn’t seen much. This will ensure that you’re getting a counselor who is well familiar with your specific difficulties. Even if your problem isn’t all that unique (like sexual difficulties, or an affair) you’d be surprised how many self-proclaimed marriage counselors haven’t worked much with these common things.
“Not all Marriage Counselors are Created Equal”.
1) Are you a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist?
This may seem like a no brainer but you’d be surprised. There are lots of different kinds of therapists who went to all sorts of different kinds of schools and had all sorts of different kinds of training. Just like you look at a physicians’ credentials before you choose a doctor, you’ll want to look at your therapists’ credentials. Some self-proclaimed marriage counselors are actually licensed and did most of their training in other things like drug and alcohol counseling or are even psychologists trained to work mostly with individuals. Research shows that on average, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists receive 16 times more marriage and family therapy experience and 3 times more marriage and family specific education. So if you get a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, you know you’re getting someone who knows a lot about working with marriages.
These are just three simple but important things that will help you find a good marriage counselor that’s right for you. Remember, don’t be afraid to ask questions over the phone and also don’t be afraid to tell the therapist that you would like to call to other places if you feel like the therapist you’re talking to just isn’t clicking with you. Research shows that one of the most important things that drives therapeutic change is your relationship with the therapist. So if you’re not feeling a connection with your therapist then don’t try to force it. It’s embarrassing to have to call a counselor and explain your situation but asking these questions may help you ensure that you’ll only have to do it once.