When you choose a Couple Therapist or a Marriage counselor, you have to do so wisely.
It’s like choosing a doctor, dentist or financial advisor: You know that you are putting your health, teeth or finances in that person’s hands. And although he or she is a professional, you must be sure that they will provide the help you need to get you out of trouble and achieve your goals.
When it comes to a marriage or couple counselor, you entrust your heart and the future of your family to this person. You need to make sure that you have chosen correctly and that you will get the best-possible help and results. The following tips will help you do so.
1) Interview the Counselor
Before you commit to working with a counselor, meet and speak with him or her. Tell them about your issues and observe their responses. Are they condescending? Do they, in any way, make you feel inferior? Or do they make you feel safe to share your story?
Now ask them how they work. Get an idea of their approach. Does it make sense to you? Do you agree with it?
What you want is a counselor who treats you with respect, who does not judge you, and who offers practical solutions to your problems.
1) Do they get results?
This is very important. You want a counselor who is competent and who gets results. Can they show you testimonials or reviews that prove their effectiveness? Do they offer practical advice that gets favorable outcomes for their clients? And if so, are those the outcomes you are looking for?
For instance, if you want to save your marriage, how many marriages have they saved? On the other hand, if the two of you want help to go your separate ways amicably, have they ever helped a couple do so?
Even if the counselor has passed the tests in #1 and #2 above and you have started working with them, be alert to the next three tips.
3) After Each Session
After each session, ask yourself, “Did we learn something that brings us closer together?” “Did we gain a new understanding or tools that help us communicate better?” “Do we feel better or more hopeful?”
While working on your relationship you may experience ups and down. After all, you are bringing your issues to the surface, so “stormy weather” is to be expected. However, most of the time, when you walk out of a counseling session, you should feel better and better equipped to deal with your issues.
And you should feel better, not worse, about each other.
4) Between Sessions
Observe how well your partner and you do in the days that follow your counseling session. Do you fight less? Are you having more good days than bad? Is your communication improving?
Yes, you may have an occasional bad week, because counseling could dredge up pain and disagreements.
However, if the counseling is effective, not just an opportunity for you to vent, you should see a steady improvement.
5) Are You Being Diagnosed?
Some counselors will diagnose one or both of you with “bi-polar disorder,” “depression,” “anxiety,” “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” (great love and admiration for oneself), etc. The love of shopping is called “Compulsive Buying Disorder.” Even drug addiction and alcoholism may be labeled “disorders.”
It is important to understand that by “disorder” is meant a “disease” or “illness.” In this case it means a “mental illness.”
Mental disorders are considered a health condition. However, you should know that there are no lab tests, X-rays, brain scans or chemical imbalance tests that verify them as a physical condition. Additionally, they are said to have no cure. The patient learns to cope with them and “manages” them with medication. These medications are mind-altering psychiatric drugs that are addictive and have serious side effects.
So before accepting any diagnosis, ask yourself, “Am I mentally ill?” “Are we insane, or do we have normal-people issues?” And, most importantly, “Will this diagnosis solve our challenges and save our relationship?”
If your counselor and you do not see eye to eye regarding this, and he or she insists on diagnosing you, they may not be the right counselor for you.
Do your own research and think for yourself. It’s your life, your body, your marriage.
I hope you find these tips helpful in picking the right counselor for you.
One final tip I have for you is this: Read and use my book, The Secrets of Happily Ever After. It is filled with practical tools, which I have used to save many relationships.