Making the decision to get relationship therapy is important– maybe one of the most important decisions a couple can make. The majority of couples who seek counseling and stick with it, see significant changes such as more effective communication, a deeper bond, and more relationship satisfaction. That is, as long as they find the right therapist. We can’t emphasize enough how critical finding the most qualified and trained relationship therapist is to the success of your counseling. In fact, going to the wrong person can be detrimental for your relationship. For this reason, we don’t recommend using google to search for the “best relationship therapist in Arizona” for example.
One of the biggest problems is that any regular psychologist or counselor is trained in individual therapy which is very different. Relationships are complex. And dynamic. It takes special skill and training to help couples come together and work through issues and disagreements.
When it comes to finding the right couples therapist, there are certain questions to ask and qualifications to look for. To learn more about this, we talked to an experienced Scottsdale relationship therapist who gave us the following tips.
Look for Therapists with Training in Couples Therapy
We learned that basically any therapist who is not a “licensed family and marriage therapist” will lack specialized training and experience in couples therapy. Counselors who say they offer couples therapy are likely only trained in individual therapy, which is drastically different. So don’t necessarily focus on the “Dr.” in front of someone’s name — especially when you’re looking for a couples therapist.
Choose a Therapists That Aligns With Your Relationship Values
It’s important to look for therapists who align with the way your relationship works instead of wasting time educating them. For example, if you’re an LGBTQ+ couple, find a therapist who specializes or has experience in working with couples like you. If you’re in an open relationship, or polyamorus relationship, seeing a traditional couples therapist likely won’t work because they lack experience with those dynamics. It’s kind of like that expression “don’t ask a single person for relationship advice,” it’s important to pick someone who understands you and your perspective.
Interview Potential Relationship Therapists
During your first session, or perhaps over the phone, find out about their qualifications, training, specialties and beliefs. You want to find a therapist that is focused on helping you find solutions to your problems rather than helping you leave your relationship when things get hard. For example, ask about their opinion regarding at which point they consider divorce as a viable option. Their response will be telling.
More Questions to Consider Asking:
- How long have you been practicing couples therapy?
- What portion of your practice is couples therapy?
- Do you have advanced or specialized training?
- How long is one session?
- What should we expect?
- Are you single, married, or divorced?
Ask Your Friends or Family For Recommendations
You can search databases like: American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, or Psychology Today, but the best way to find a therapist is word-of-mouth. Satisfied customers say a lot about the kind of therapy you will get, plus you’ll have the opportunity to ask them about their experiences and get honest, real life feedback. And chances are if that therapist was successful for them, they will be successful for you too.
If you’ve been discouraged by previous relationship therapy, it’s likely that therapist wasn’t trained or experienced in the right techniques. Our advice is, don’t give up on therapy, give up on the wrong therapy.