Whatever your reason is for seeking counseling, there are a few guidelines that will help you and your spouse select one that will be a good fit for you both.
- Take Your Time – Because the majority of people seek counseling out of a crisis or strong sense of urgency, taking time to find a counselor is usually not acceptable. The problem with this is that making a decision based on urgency can lead to less than desirable results. Don’t take too much time, or you might risk more damage to your relationship.
- Ask a Pastor, Friend, or Healthcare Professional for a Referral – Finding a good fit is going to be easier when you can get a trusted source to make a referral. Counseling is built on trust, and it’s helpful to know if a friend has had a good experience with someone.
- One Size Does Not Fit All – Research shows that the most important aspect of change in counseling is the relationship between the counselor and client. However, counselors have different ideas and theories that sometimes don’t work with certain people. Because of this, ask the counselor questions, such as:
- How long have you been practicing?
- What do you specialize in?
- Have you worked with (insert issue here) before?
- How do you approach Marriage Counseling (methodology, goals, etc)?
- What role does God/Religion/Spirituality play in your counseling?
- After your initial call or appointment, ask yourself how you felt about the time with the counselor. Did you feel heard? Who did more of the talking, you or the counselor? Did they share too much about themselves? Would you recommend this counselor to someone else?
- If Seeking Couples therapy, make Sure Both Partners Agree with Selecting the Counselor – Both husband and wife need a voice in selecting a counselor. If one partner has an existing relationship with the counselor, it’s usually best to find a completely different counselor for the marriage. An equal playing field is really important.
Once you’ve begun counseling together, here are a couple of guidelines to help both you and the counselor in the process.
- No secrets. If you meet with you counselor one-on-one, which is normal for family of origin issues, divulge everything you believe to be hindering where you want to be with your spouse. Your counselor will need to challenge you to share these with your spouse, no matter how difficult or consequential they might be.
- Tell the truth. If you’re uncomfortable with setting, choice of words, etc, speak up and tell the truth
- Trust the Process. Give the process at least 4-6 sessions before deciding about leaving/ending counseling. Don’t give up for good just because you had a poor experience with a counselor.
- Keep your head up. Your situation can sometimes get worse before it gets better. Don’t be discouraged. Your counselor does not have a magic pill, nor does any other counselor. Staying with the process is key in making significant life and relationship changes.
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