Have you and your partner been struggling to see eye-to-eye? Whether everything is a confrontation or you’ve been avoiding one another, making decisions might feel a lot more challenging than it once was. Even if you’re both eager to work on your relationship, how can you be expected to decide on the right couples therapist when you’re experiencing a disconnect?
The truth is that choosing a counselor can be difficult for anyone, let alone a couple going through a challenging time. How can you be sure that you have chosen a professional capable of meeting your specific needs? Where should you begin?
We have compiled seven tips that can simplify the process of choosing the right relationship therapist, in good times or bad. Keep reading so you can learn how to choose a counselor and begin the process of healing today.
1. Choose a Therapist Trained in Couples Therapy
If you and your partner are struggling, you’re probably feeling a lot of pain and anxiety as you search for solutions. Your first instinct might be to “fix the problem” as quickly and efficiently as possible. Rather than making an appointment with the first counselor you see, we encourage you to search for a therapist with specialized training in relationship therapy.
Even therapists who claim experience in couples therapy may only have training in individual therapy. Ideally, your counselor will have received both training and supervision in approaches to couples therapy. This is the best way to ensure that you are working with a vetted, effective professional with the empathy and experience necessary to make a difference.
2. Interview Your Relationship Therapist First
Therapists and counselors are professionals, but they are humans first. Even two counselors with the same approach might have different temperaments, biases, and opinions. Not every professional will be the right fit for you and your partner, and that is normal!
When choosing a therapist, it’s okay to “interview” them a bit before you commit to an ongoing therapeutic relationship. You might start with a trial session to assess whether you feel comfortable working with them. This is also a wonderful way to explore what a typical session looks like from the inside.
You might want to use this first session to explore your counselor’s views on what makes a relationship successful, as well as their particular views on divorce. Don’t be afraid to ask about how much of their work is with couples.
3. Choose an Inclusive Practitioner
Every relationship is different, and there is no single definition for “a healthy relationship.” If you are in a less conventional relationship, you want to ensure that you are working with a counselor who aligns with your personal goals. This can ensure that your practitioner is familiar with the terminology you might use when discussing aspects of your unique relationship.
For example, a same-sex or queer couple will want to ensure that they are working with a professional who is comfortable with non-heteronormative language. Likewise, sexually marginalized couples, such as those who participate in kink or BDSM culture, may feel more comfortable with a counselor who has some training in sex therapy.
Ultimately, you want to ensure that your counselor is inclusive and knowledgeable about sexuality, subcultures, and gender expression. Your therapist should be providing you with solutions. The burden of teaching your professional should not be on you!
4. Ensure That You Can Afford It
When it comes to paying for couples counseling, the more expensive option is not always the best one. If you anticipate that paying for counseling might be a barrier for you, always ask about income-based sliding fees. Your insurance plan or Employee Assistance Program may also offer you options that can help make regular counseling more affordable.
Quality counseling is unlikely to be free, but effective counseling is still less expensive than divorce. It’s wise to consider costs associated with counseling as an investment in your happiness. A good counselor will teach you skills and techniques that will improve the way you communicate with others for the rest of your life!
5. Choose a Flexible Couples Therapist
Sometimes the biggest challenge you’ll face in therapy is finding a time when you and your partner are both available! This gets even more complicated when you are separated or co-parenting. Everything from work delays to childcare issues can throw a wrench into your day and affect your work in counseling.
To avoid such issues, you will want to make sure that you are working with a therapist or counselor who is flexible and has a generous cancelation policy. This might be something that you ask about during your trial session when you interview your new practitioner. Couples therapy only works if both halves of a couple can make it to the session, so this should be a priority.
6. Do Your Research
If you’ve never participated in couples counseling before, it may be hard to trust your gut when choosing a therapist. It’s perfectly okay to ask friends and family for recommendations. If you know a couple who has gone through counseling and come out stronger on the other side, they probably have an excellent recommendation for you!
Likewise, don’t be afraid to consult online reviews! Nobody can tell you more about how a counselor operates than their clients. Take note of what former clients liked and disliked and use it as one part of your decision-making process.
7. Trust Yourself!
Finding a couples therapist who “gets you” can be just as challenging as finding a romantic partner! If someone doesn’t seem like the right fit, trust yourself and try another therapist. Likewise, if you genuinely click with a professional, allow yourself to trust your gut and commit to therapy!
Fall in Love With Your Ideal Counselor
Choosing the right couples therapist is not easy! You need to find someone who makes you feel comfortable at your most vulnerable. When you are putting your most precious relationship in another person’s hands, you deserve to work with a professional who you truly trust.
At Evergreen Relationship Therapy, we offer in-person and online therapy for couples at all stages of their relationships. We welcome you to interview one of our professionals by booking a free consultation.