February 26, 2006
How to Choose a Marriage Counselor
Admitting you need the assistance of a marriage counselor is the first step to salvaging your troubled marriage. Once you and your partner have acknowledged your need for professional help, the two of you will need to choose a counselor together. Choosing a marriage counselor is a very personal thing. The right counselor for you and your spouse is the one that you both feel comfortable with and have confidence in their ability to help you resolve your problems. You may find counselors who come highly recommended and who have helped friends and family members of yours but unless you have faith in the counselor they won’t be able to help you. Choosing a marriage counselor may be hindered by the fact that your marital relationship is already troubled but it’s important that you work together to choose the right marriage counselor if you are serious about saving your relationship.
Seeking recommendations from trusted friends and family members who have employed the use of a marriage counselor is a good place to start your search. You can take the opportunity to ask your friends and relatives what they liked and didn’t like about the counselor who helped them and use this information to determine whether or not you have any interest in having a consultation with their recommended counselor. In speaking to your friend or relative try to ask questions that elicit specific responses about the marriage counselor’s demeanor and techniques without asking your trusted source to divulge any sensitive details about their counseling sessions. You need to understand that worked for others may not help your marriage but having a few trusted persons make recommendations is a good place to begin your search.
Next, utilize the Internet to research marriage counselors in your area. Look for counselors who have web pages that describe their education, life experience and techniques for conflict resolution. This type of information is useful for deciding before you even meet them if you think they can help you. If there is anything about their website that bothers you, trust your instincts and cross them off your list of potential marriage counselors. Trusting your marriage counselor is extremely important so if there is anything that bothers you right away, then they aren’t the right counselor for you because you will go into the sessions feeling guarded which will hinder your progress.
In a relationship that is already troubled, it might be worthwhile to do the preliminary research on available marriage counselors separately. This will allow the two of you to decide what you are looking for in a marriage counselor without further complicating any pre-existing issues in your marriage. Seek recommendations from friends and family members and do your Internet research separately. Once you have both compiled a list of potential counselors compare your lists and agree to interview those that overlap on your lists. If you do not have any overlap, agree to each choose two candidates and meet with these four marriage counselors in the next step of the process.
Once you have selected a few potential marriage counselors, it is time to set up initial consultations with each of them. These consultations will give you the opportunity to meet with each counselor to get to know them a little better and learn about their conflict resolution strategies. It is also a chance to determine how comfortable you feel around this counselor and whether you will be able to open up to him or her and express your true feelings. This is also your opportunity to decide whether or not you truly have faith that this marriage counselor is the one that can save your marriage. Prepare for these sessions ahead of time by coming up with a list of questions that will help you to obtain a better understanding of the counselor and their methods. In coming up with these questions, either work together with your spouse to develop a list of questions or encourage your spouse to do so on their own so that you are both prepared for the initial consultation. As with your Internet research if there is something you just don’t trust about one of the marriage counselors in your initial consultations then trust your gut and eliminate them from your list. An initial consultation is an excellent way to get all your questions about the marriage counselor answered and to become acquainted with the counselor on a personal level. Your initial consultation with a marriage counselor is probably the most important step in determining if they are right for you and your spouse so take this step very seriously.
Once you and your counselor have met with all of the marriage counselors on your proposed list, it is time to make your decision. Hopefully, the two of you will agree on a counselor and will be able to begin your sessions immediately but if you can’t reach an agreement try another method to determining which counselor to choose. You could try a method such as having each partner rank the candidates from 1-4 in order of preference and then agree to choose the counselor who receives the lowest combined score. While this method may sound silly, it is important to remember that you are going to counseling because there is a problem in your marriage and further aggregating the problem by arguing over a marriage counselor may lead to one of the partners deciding that counseling isn’t worth it and giving up on the relationship.
Choosing a marriage counselor can be a difficult and stressful process but it’s imperative to remember that this is an extremely important decision that deserves your utmost attention. Choosing the right marriage counselor is critical to the success of the counseling sessions. An already troubled marriage can be further weakened by the process of choosing a marriage counselor so you and your partner should exercise caution not to allow yourselves to argue over this process. The right marriage counselor will be able to salvage your relationship as long as you and your spouse are committed to using the counseling to solve your problems.