While many couples only seek counselling once they start to experience relationship problems, the fact of the matter is that, just like physical health concerns, “prevention is better than a cure.”
The purpose of a couples counselor is to help two people navigate the twists and turns of relationship dynamics as well as deal with the harder blows in life.
Whether you need to seek counselling to save a marriage going down the wrong path or just feel like you need help to get back in touch with the one your love, there are specific ways to identify the right counselor for you.
In fact, there are several considerations that couples need to make together, as well as individually, before deciding on the right counselor help them.
Considerations to Make Before Contacting a Counselor
Making sure that both parties are comfortable with seeking counselling is essential for the process to work. If one partner is hesitant, than it is possible for the other to seek “relationship counselling” alone, but it is far more effective when experienced together.
It is also important to be able to clearly articulate your problem or issue. This is the first question that a counselor will ask, and his or her ability to deal with that issue says a lot about whether or not this is the right person to provide you with help.
In addition, other factors about the type of counselor you want are important to consider before ever speaking to someone. This includes:
- Whether you prefer a male or female counselor
- Whether or not it’s important that the counselor has “personal experience” in marriage, divorce, or other common issues
- How much time and money you are willing to dedicate to counselling sessions
- Whether or not you are open to individual counseling as well as couples counseling and the importance of confidentiality in individual sessions
Finding the Right Couples Counselor for You
Once your guidelines are clear, actually finding a counselor who will fulfill these needs is a detailed process. To begin, ask trusted friends and family members or other medical professionals, such as your family physician, for referrals. Check with your insurance carrier to see whether sessions are covered under your plan and which counselors or practices are covered.
After gathering some names, take each counselor for a “trial run” via a telephone or in person interview. Although many therapists will say they work with couples, those who specialize in couples therapy versus other mental health issues are more likely to meet your needs.
For this reason, ask a counselor about the focus of their practice rather than whether or not they can serve your needs.
Also, note that there is a huge difference between a relationship and sex therapist and a divorce therapist. Where you are as a couple, and how you define your particular issues, will orient you towards the right type of counselor for your needs.
If you are trying to avoid divorce, a therapist who supports divorce as a viable answer to problems may not be the right choice.
Don’t Be Afraid to Reevaluate Your Choice
Even after asking around and interviewing potential counselors, it is not required that you stick with just one. After a couple sessions with a particular therapist it may become obvious that he or she is not the right one for you.
Also, do not hesitate to schedule a series of “trial sessions” and free phone consultations with different people in order to find the right match to your needs and personalities.
Remember that each therapist has a unique approach to the therapeutic process and all therapy is designed to take effect over time, not in one session. However, something or someone who doesn’t “feel right” probably isn’t right.