3 Pointers for Finding an Effective Couples Therapist
When it comes to marital therapy, the earlier you start, the better. As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. The best time to see a couples therapist is when the patterns in your relationship are still fresh and your dynamics as a couple are not written in stone. According to some experts, it’s even helpful to see a therapist before marriage, as this is is the most convenient time to bring about healthy changes.
Whatever your situation is as a couple, finding a skilled therapist is key. These tips will help you in your search:
1. Ask for referrals.
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You can probably ask ask your primary care physician, OBGYN or pediatrician to recommend some couples therapists they may know are good. You can also use those online therapist finders. Or search on the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy website.
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2. Interview candidates.
Most therapists claim to work with couples, but that’s not an indication that they are qualified to do the job. That’s why you should to ask what their practice is focused on. You want a clinician whose training and education is in the particular area of interpersonal relationships and couples dynamics. This person may be a social worker (MSW or LCSW), a psychologist (Ph.D or Psy.D), or a licensed marriage and family therapist. When you interview your potential therapist, make sure y ou ask the three questions below:
> What percentage of their work has something to do with the kind of issues you’re trying to work through as a couple?
> How much of their work is involves couples (rather than individuals)? (This must at least be 30 percent.)
> Are they going to accept your insurance? (If not, inquire how much weekly out-of-pocket costs you need to pay.)
3. Shop around for comparison.
Meeting a few therapists before choosing one is totally acceptable. How can you tell which one is the best? Listen to your gut. You and your spouse should feel understood and validated. Certainly, it’s also important that you both trust the therapist. If your therapist is taking sides or wants to see you or your partner alone more frequently, or if there are other things about the therapist that are making you uncomfortable, speak up.
Take note, therapy is a process. And there are times when one or both of you will not be happy with it. Again, tell your therapist and your spouse.
Finally, bear in mind that your problems may not be resolved in the first few sessions. But in your first two to four sessions, you should be able to see signs of progress somehow. Otherwise, you and your spouse may just have to work harder, or it may be time to see another therapist.