Couples counseling is a vital aid for relationships at any stage. However, for many, couples therapy comes with a lot of challenges.
Relationship counseling asks couples to be vulnerable and open in ways that many have never experienced with someone they’ve previously never met or talked to before. And this is on top of their preconceived notions about therapy.
This is why finding the correct relationship therapist for you is crucial. Working with someone you feel comfortable with helps lower the barriers to receiving effective treatment. But there are so many couples therapists out there today. How can one find the right fit for them?
That’s what we’re here to help you with today. This guide will teach you how to research, what questions to ask, and how to assess a couples therapist before starting couples counseling.
Using these tips, you can find a couples therapist that fits your relationship. That way, you can get started working towards the relationships you’ve always envisioned.
Start your search using reputable directories
When starting your search for a couples therapist, your first instinct will probably be to turn to Google. It’s what we use to find most of our answers, but someone’s ranking on Google does not necessarily guarantee their legitimacy. Other common marketplace sites like Yelp, Craigslist, NextDoor or Facebook Marketplace are also popular, but lack integrity and thoroughness.
Thankfully, professional counseling organizations have coordinated to create reputable directories. Using these sites, you can rest assured that any couples therapist listed has gone through some type of check, been certified with their system, or undergone additional vetting. More importantly, they’re known by their peers and are accountable to others in their profession.
- Psychology Today
- Good Therapy
- California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT)
- Grow My Relationship
Check their credentials
Great, your search has resulted in a few leads! The next step in your search is to check their educational background and counseling credentials. A critical question is do they specialize in relationship counseling?
Couples counseling is a highly specialized and specific subset of therapy. It’s more complex and dynamic than individual therapy. Not every licensed therapist will seek out couples counseling specializations. There’s significant time and money required to receive advanced training and education specific to couples counseling.
Any credentials, certifications, and education related to couples therapy should be easy to find on their website. You should consider that a red flag if you cannot easily find this information. If they don’t list any credentials, you should probably move your search on to another couples therapist.
There are several specializations and styles of couples counseling. Here are some of the more popular methods and professional training for relationship counselors you might see listed:
- The Developmental Model of Couples Therapy
- Relational Life Therapy (RLT)
- Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT)
Conduct an interview
Now that you’ve shortlisted a few couples therapists, it’s time to interview your prospective choices.
Many couples consider this rude or unnecessary, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The couples therapist you select will be a part of your relationship for months or even years. It’s only natural that you want to ensure the best possible fit before getting started. Your relationship has a style, and you and your partner both have different methods of communication. Taking the time to find the right relationship therapist from the start ensures a strong start for the trust and safety necessary for effective counseling.
A professional relationship therapist will gladly answer any questions you may have about communication styles, expectations, and goals before getting started.
Here are some questions you can ask during your interviewing phase:
- What drew you to couples counseling?
- How do you measure success as a couples therapist?
- How long will therapy last?
- What percentage of your time is spent working in relationship counseling?
- What in your background specifically qualifies you for couples counseling?
- How do you typically run your sessions?
- Do you have additional specializations in trauma, depression, infidelity, etc.?
- Do you think it’s OK for a couples therapist to recommend divorce to a couple?
- What percentage of couples you’ve worked with would you say have experienced a successful relationship thanks to your couples counseling?
These should help get you started thinking about what kinds of questions to ask.
Also, note: don’t be afraid to discuss any fears or hang-ups you have about couples therapy with your potential counselor. Hearing how they answer your apprehensions is an excellent way to get a feel for your couples therapist. Their answers might even help you start your first session more open and available.
Don’t overlook the details
Sometimes, relationship problems are pressing, causing you to rush your search. You want to start couples therapy ASAP and might overlook some vital points.
Maybe in your research, you discovered a rock star couples therapist with hundreds of five-star reviews. They’re just a bit over your expected budget and are located on the other side of a busy city from you. Sure, that drive and extra expense won’t matter in the first couple of weeks or months. But as things progress over time, that commute to and from couples therapy will become a significant hurdle. An hour there and back adds up and becomes an excuse to skip this week, which becomes this month, and then you’re never going.
Little details will really add up over time and shouldn’t be overlooked. Where they’re located, their available dates and other information can make or break couples counseling. Like when you choose a partner, you don’t want to minimize early warning signs just to find a match. Don’t talk yourself into something you know will be a lousy fit down the road.
Consider the costs
Now that you’ve found your candidate, what are your financing options? Does your insurance cover this couples therapist?
You shouldn’t start your couples therapy if you’ll struggle to keep up payments down the line. Navigating insurance issues can be a major headache, so it’s best to take the time to research the realities before getting started.
Couples counseling is similar to any other commitments you make to improve yourself. Like joining a gym, traveling, or getting on a new diet, couples counseling requires investing your time and money.
Think of couples therapy as an investment in your relationship’s future. If your goal is to deepen bonds, break down communication barriers, or save your marriage, how much is that worth to you?
Some will say their relationship is worth everything. Which is highly commendable! But, consider the realities of your budget and what you can handle.
Trust your gut feelings
The last tip we’d like to share is to trust your instincts during your search. We all develop skills in reading situations and judging our comfort levels.
If you’re interviewing a couples therapist and find yourself chatting away openly, you might have found your match! Suppose you’re talking to them and struggling with their answers or can’t envision their idea of a therapy session. In that case, it’s OK to take a step back to consider other options.
Trust and compatibility are vital to the success of your couples counseling sessions. Your couples therapist will need to challenge and encourage you to leave your comfort zones at times. But this is only possible if you truly trust your couples therapist.
Don’t try to talk yourself into a counselor just because the reviews are good or they’re cheaper than other options.
It is important to note that many people struggle with apprehension regarding any kind of therapy, particularly couples counseling. It’s essential to understand the difference between your natural anxiety about couples therapy in general and this specific couples therapist.
Best of luck in your search for a couples therapist
We’re so glad you’re here seeking out information about couples counseling and finding the right couples therapist!
Choosing the right couples therapist is a decision you shouldn’t take lightly. But we don’t mean to scare you off. A bit of time, patience, and diligence at the start can save you time and money. It will also pay off in the results you experience during your sessions!
If you have any questions directly for me about how I work as a couples therapist and run my sessions, please contact me. My goal as a couples therapist is to empower your relationship so that you can connect better with yourself and the people in your life.
I’m always happy to talk with prospective couples about their goals and how I work. I promise to be completely honest with you. If I feel like we would not make a great fit, I’ll happily refer you to one of my colleagues.