So, after a lot of heartache, you’ve finally agreed on giving couples therapy a go.
Whether this was a mutual decision you’re both comfortable with, or one where at least one of you is feeling ‘I have no other choice’, you both know this is a big deal.
There’s a lot at stake, and you want to make sure you don’t blow this opportunity to change things for the better.
So you’re now left with the very important task to find a good couples therapist to help you.
Yes, this is a very important step because no matter how motivated and dedicated to the process you and your partner might be, your therapy outcome will also depend on the experience and skills of your therapist.
Making the wrong decision now may cost you more than just the wasted time and money.
Making the right decision will not guarantee you get exactly the results you want, but will significantly increase the chances that you’ll find the therapy process helpful and useful.
And being a good therapist may not be enough, as no therapist, even very good ones, will work well for every couple.
You need to find someone who’s a good match for you both, and for your specific situation.
But how do you know what to look for?
Below I list three key areas that you may want to consider:
1. Choose A Couples Therapist Who’s Actually A Couples Therapist
Couples work is very different from individual work and requires a very different set of skills.
Although many therapists who work with individuals will also do couple work, most will have limited training or expertise in couple therapy, if any.
A good couples therapist will have specialist training in couples therapy, special interest and expertise in relationship issues, and extensive experience working with couples.
Choose someone who prefers to work with couples and who have made relationship work the main focus of their practice, doing it exclusively or primarily.
Once you start, one of the main things to look out for is the therapist’s strategy to help you.
There are a variety of helpful approaches to couples therapy out there, but one thing good couples therapists have in common is a clear strategy on how they plan to help you.
2. Choose A Couples Therapist You Both Like and Feel You Can Trust
It’s important that both partners feel comfortable and have a positive connection with the therapist.
From the start you’ll want to feel understood and validated and have a sense that the therapist is someone you can trust.
Once you start, there may be moments where one or both of you feel a little uncomfortable or doubtful about different aspects of the therapy.
This is a natural part of the process, and it’s important to feel that you can raise and discuss any feelings or concerns with your therapist.
A good couples therapist will not only give you permission but will also encourage you to raise any such concerns, so they can be cleared and not get in the way of the work.
3. Choose A Couples Therapist With A Compatible Value System And Work Style
Your therapist’s work goals and values need to be compatible with your own.
Their attitude to marriage and divorce, sex and sexuality, religion, culture, or any other matter important to you – and their approach to working in these areas – need to feel ‘right’ to you.
If you’re not sure, ask them any questions you may have. A good therapist will welcome and answer your questions, openly and clearly.
You also need to feel comfortable with your therapist’s work style and personality.
While some therapists are flexible and adaptable (and have the required experience) to work well with couples from a wide range of backgrounds, others are not.
Some couples can also adjust well to different styles, but choosing a therapist that’s the best, most comfortable fit for you, will help you get the most out of the process.
Find A Good Fit and Change Things For the Better
I hope this has helped you to figure out how to choose a good, right-for-you, couples therapist.
Can you relate to the points I raised? Which one is the most important to you?
If this is not your first time looking for a couples therapist, how did you choose your last one?
Were you clear about what you were looking for? Do you think you made a good choice?
Based on your personal experience, what you’d add to my list, if anything?
If you have a comment you’d like to share, feel free to send me a line. I’d love to hear your thoughts.