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Choosing a Marriage Counsellor

Choosing a Marriage Counsellor

Couples counselling, marital therapy, marriage counselling, relationship coaching.  We call it many things, but the bottom line is that when your relationship is in distress, you may need assistance and a skilled counsellor or therapist can help.  But how do you find someone to work with?  And how do you make sure that the person you have chosen, actually has the skills and experience to help.
A quick search for couple counsellors in Vancouver, BC, results in almost 200 therapists to choose from.  This number could easily overwhelm anyone who has finally made a decision to explore marriage therapy.  Then we decide, okay, I will just look at therapists who have offices that are convenient for me.  And still that number is at 100 or more!  How can you possibly choose from that number of counsellors?!  And how do you know that the one you have chosen to meet, can actually help?
Most couples wait for years before deciding it is finally time to get some help.  By then, they are well entrenched in negative patterns within their relationships and separation or divorce may be imminent.  This is not the time to be making one of the most important decisions of your marital life, and it is most definitely not the time to get this decision wrong.  Below are some ideas to guide the process which will hopefully make it a bit easier for you.
  • Almost every therapist says they do Couples Counselling.  Ask them what their training is in this area and to be specific about how they would approach your particular issues / challenges.
  • Make sure that the therapist you choose is biased towards helping you find ways to stay in your marriage, not just get you out!  While transitioning out of relationships is sometimes necessary, a skilled and experienced counsellor will know how to help you work through the hurt and pain that is often present in long term relationships.
  • If you choose a counsellor and are not feeling as though things are improving or heading in the right direction after two or three sessions, move on and find another therapist.
  • Good Relationship therapy is goal orientated.  Make sure that the therapist you choose helps you set and achieve goals.
  • Most of the work with your Marriage Therapist should be done with everyone in the room.  While it is often necessary to have a session or two with just one partner, it is not typically a significant part of the work
  • Skilled Marriage Counselling involves more than just being kind and asking how things feel.  If the therapist tends to simply witness the way you and your partner interact and does not interrupt and provide teaching and options for doing things differently, find another one.
  • While it is necessary to get a general sense of history when starting Couples Therapy, you should very quickly move into the ‘here and now’ of your world.  If the therapist is spending too much time on history and not enough on helping you build better today’s and tomorrow’s, they may not be the right person to help your relationship.
  • There are many ways to have a healthy, successful relationship.  While you seek out counselling to find relief from problematic patterns in your marriage, do not accept a ‘one size fits all’ approach to the work.  Your own values must drive the work and if a therapist asks you to leave those behind, ask for a referral to someone else.
  • If at all possible, talk to people close to you and ask who they know that has done really good couples counselling.  While this can be very scary, you really don’t just want to find a Marriage Therapist.  You want to find a great therapist!
At Jericho Counselling, our therapists use the proven approaches of John Gottman, Susan Johnson (Emotionally Focused Therapy), and Harville Hendrix (Imago).  We are trained in Family Systems and Attachment theory.  Our goal is to collaborate with our clients to help improve their relationships and marriages, in as few sessions as possible.


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