I write in my bio that I have been through hell and back when it comes to my own relationship, so I think this gives me some authority on the problems in relationships and how to overcome them. I can also say that I understand the difficulties of getting help with a troubled relationship. It was really hard for me to find a good therapist.
When my spouse and I decided that we needed marriage counseling, I reached out to my mentor and asked for a referral to licensed clinical therapists. There wasn’t anyone within 2 hours of us that she would recommend. What we ended up doing was virtual sessions. This was years ago and way before the pandemic which has since made Telehealth popular. Since we were doing virtual sessions, it opened up the possibility to work with one of the best couples counseling therapist I now know.
My spouse and I had the opportunity to see my mentor’s best student and technology allowed us to meet online across the pond.
Since then, I have learned a few more things about how to find the best counselor and how to get the best from couples counseling. I often learn that my clients have already tried another therapist, and, in some instances, more than two before coming to me. It’s unimaginable that you cannot just pick up the phone and call a therapist with assurance you will get the therapy help you deserve.
In an article called “Bad Couples Therapy”, Bill Doherty wrote “a dirty little secret in the therapy field is that couples therapy is the hardest form of therapy, and most therapists aren’t good at it.” He goes on to write that 80 percent of couples therapists in private practice never took any course work, internships, or training in relationships, therapy, marriage counseling, or any subject within couples counseling. This is astonishing! Doherty says it’s like having your broken leg set by a doctor who skipped orthopedics in medical school. Who would be willing agree to that one? In this article, I want to share some things to consider if you want quality counseling help for your life.
Here’s what not to do if you want quality therapy help:
Don’t just find someone who is accepting clients and works with your insurance.
A lot of people aren’t aware that not all therapy is the same. There are some awesome individual therapists that aren’t specialized in offering couples counseling or marriage counseling and there are some great couples therapists or family therapists that don’t do a great job working with specific individual issues. One suggestion I would like to make is that you ask the therapist what percentage of their practice is couples counseling therapy. My own therapy practice is more than 75%. I specialize in couples counseling.
The other thing that is important to consider is what it means to use your insurance for services. What some therapists have found is that when they work with insurance it limits the help they can give. Insurance companies want a treatment plan that addresses a certain issue. Since they don’t specifically cover couples therapy for clients, a therapist has to use a diagnosis that is covered. If they use a label of depression, than the treatment plan has to have interventions targeted to treat this. But what if the “depression” is really disillusionment about the state of the relationship or sadness because the marriage is on the brink of ending?
Don’t coerce another to go to counseling when they said they were 100% done.
Another reason therapy might not work is if one partner has already made a decision that they are not willing to try anymore. It can be devastating when you think your relationship is over. If your partner says they are done, the worst thing would be to drag them to couples therapy by threats or coercion. Instead, a partner might try to work on themselves and see if they can demonstrate the change that their partner has been looking for. If the leaning-out partner isn’t sure if they are in love or isn’t sure that they want to try working on it, discernment therapy is another great option!
The goal of discernment therapy is to simply make a decision about the nature of your relationship. Will you stay status quo, separate, or commit to therapy? You can read more about it here. If you want to go to therapy and your partner is not willing find a couples therapist who helps partners work on the relationship solo, this option may be for you.
Another option, than dragging someone into therapy, is to find a therapist who can help you reevaluate the relationship, grieve the relationship, or get some clarity about the situation. Although it isn’t one person’s role to fix the relationship, if one partner goes to therapy it can help the relationship. If the relationship does end, you might look at growth areas for the next relationship or grieve the ending of a long relationship.
Don’t show up expecting your partner to do all the changing.
When a partner comes in and takes no responsibility for their contributions it sends a message to the other partner that they are not doing any work. It is kind of like showing up to a football game believing that the game’s outcome is solely up to the quarterback. Even if the quarterback is the most skilled player, he is going to need some help from the rest of the team. Couples therapy works best when partners show up looking to increase their knowledge about themselves and their partner. Therapy becomes a powerful tool to help you break ineffective patterns in life, and then, provides a way for couples to begin to develop a partnership and create a shared vision of the kind of life they want to build together.
Now that we have gone over some ways couples therapy won’t work, let’s shift gears and look at what you can do when looking for a skilled couple’s therapist.
Here are some key actions you can take:
· Make sure you ask questions about the therapist’s experience, training, and practice.
· Do your research. There are different types of therapy and counseling options. If you are going for a specific issue, like sex or trust issues, find someone who has training and experience on that particular issue.
· Don’t bargain shop. If you talk to a counseling therapist you connect with and they are more expensive, remember that this is one area you will definitely get what you pay for.
Finding a skilled, quality counselor is an important part of successful couples counseling. Yet, remember, it is only part of the equation. To see and feel the changes in your relationship, aim to increase your knowledge about yourself, your partner, and look to correct the patterns of interaction between the two of you. Remember, creating change will take time and tough work.
Make sure you have a trained and skilled guide to navigate the rough waters in your relationship.
I offer marriage counseling, discernment counseling, and couples boot camp intensives that can provide relationships with an overhaul and give people the relief they need in a concentrated burst. Learn more about my counseling therapy services here. I offer virtual appointments and in-person sessions for my clients at my Harrisburg location.