Pointers to Find a Good Marital Therapist
When it comes to marriage therapy, the sooner you start, the better the outcome. Like we often say, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. The ideal time to consult a therapist is when your relationship patterns are yet new and your dynamics as spouses 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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For example, you can ask your primary care doctor, pediatrician or OBGYN to recommend a number of couples therapists they may know. Those online therapist finders are also a great option. Or search on the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy website.
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2. Interview prospects.
Most therapists will tell you that they work with couples, but that doesn’t mean they are indeed qualified for such a job. That’s why you have to know what the focus of their practice is. You want a clinician whose training and education is in the particular area of interpersonal relationships and couples dynamics. A licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), a social worker (MSW or LCSW) or a psychologist (Ph.D or Psy.D) are three good choices. During the interview with your potential therapist, here are three questions you shouldn’t forget to ask:
> 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 should be 30 percent at least.)
> Are they going to accept your insurance? (If not, inquire how much weekly out-of-pocket costs you need to pay.)
3. Shop around to compare different therapists.
Meeting a few therapists before choosing one is totally acceptable. How can you tell who’s the best? Listen to your gut. You and your spouse should feel understood and validated. Most certainly, it’s also important that both of you trust the therapist. If you or your spouse feels uncomfortable – for example, when the therapist wants to see more of one of you alone or when you are allowed to have secrets – make your concern known.
Bear in mind that therapy is a process. And sometimes, one or both of you will be dissatisfied with it. Again, tell your therapist and your spouse.
Lastly, don’t be surprised if your problems aren’t fixed after the first few sessions. But within the first two to four sessions, you should be able to see some progress somehow. If not, perhaps you and your spouse just have to work harder, or you may have to find a new therapist.