Searching for a good marital therapist may sound intimidating, but not exactly. It can be as simple as asking for a referral from a friend, your doctor or even a priest. If you don’t think you want to do that, just go online and start searching. Of course, not everything you’ll find there is good for you, so stick to reputable sources all the time.
Below are tips to help you find the best therapist for you and your spouse:
Online directories are a good starting point, but like we said earlier, not everything out here is trustworthy. Two of the most trusted directories for those looking for a marriage counselor are the National Registry of Marriage-Friendly Therapists (NRMF) and the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT).
The Right Credentials
All therapists need a license, although the specific regulations may differ from one state to another. Generally speaking, a marital therapist must be a a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), a psychologist (Ph.D.or PsyD), a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC), or a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). Most importantly, remember that couples therapists are not automatically qualified as marriage therapists, because the dynamics of marriage are clearly unique from those of unmarried couples.
Interviewing the Therapist
On your first meeting with the therapist, don’t be scared to ask questions. This can be particularly important if you found them without a personal referral. Beyond the fees and availability issues, go deeper with your questions.
For instance, how long have they been practicing as a marriage therapist? What advanced training do they have, if any? How long is a typical session? Is there something in your marriage history that could rule you out for marriage counseling (for example, substance abuse)?
If the therapist’s marital status is important to you, it’s alright to ask. You may feel more at ease with someone who is actually married and has kids.
Trusting Your Gut
When gauging whether or not a counselor is good for you, trust your gut. Did you feel some kind of connection the first time you met? Did he make sense with the things he told you? Did it feel like he had a good grasp of what you’ve told him about your marriage so far? What does your spouse think of him? If any of you has doubts on the therapist’s abilities or is just plain uncomfortable with him, go look for another one.
Finally, remember that no matter how well-reviewed a therapist is, he can never ever fix your marriage for you. His role is only to help, and the fixing is your job as the couple.