Finding the Right Couples Therapist: How to Choose the Right Match for Your Needs
Relationships can be tough, but finding the right couples therapist shouldn’t have to be.
Couples therapy can be a game-changer for couples struggling with communication issues, trust, infidelity, or any number of relationship challenges.
However, choosing the right therapist can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with the stress of relationship issues.
Fortunately, there are several key factors to consider when selecting a couples therapist to help you find the perfect match for your needs. From qualifications and experience to communication style and personality, there are many things to consider.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the most important considerations to remember when searching for the right couples therapist. Whether you’re just starting your search or looking to switch therapists, this guide will help you find the support you need to build a stronger, healthier relationship.
Why finding the right couples therapist is important
Before we dive into what to look for in a couples therapist, it’s important to understand why finding the right therapist is so crucial.
A couples therapist is not just someone you talk to about your problems – they are a trained professional who can help you navigate the complex issues that arise in relationships. A good therapist can help you identify patterns in your relationship, teach you communication skills, and provide a neutral space for you and your partner to work through your issues.
A bad therapist can make things worse.
Now is not to bargain shop, or choose someone just based on convenience.
If you and your partner don’t feel heard or understood by your therapist, or if they don’t have the right experience or training to help you, you may feel more frustrated and hopeless. That’s why it’s essential to take the time to find a therapist who is the right fit for your needs.
What to look for in a couples therapist
So, what should you look for when searching for a couples therapist? Here are some important factors to consider:
Credentials and Qualifications to look for in a couples therapist
One of the first things to look for in a couples therapist is their qualifications and credentials. You want to make sure that your therapist is licensed to practice in your state and has the proper training and experience to work with couples.
Look for a therapist who has specialized couples therapy advanced training beyond the standard graduate degree in psychology or counseling.
You’ll also want to consider their experience working with couples. Find out how long they have been practicing and how many couples they have worked with. A therapist with extensive experience working with couples is more likely to have encountered a wide range of issues and be better equipped to help you and your partner.
Different types of couples therapy and which one may be right for you
Another important consideration is the type of couples therapy the therapist specializes in. There are several types of evidence-based couples therapy, including Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), and the Gottman Method. Each approach has its own strengths and weaknesses.
In our offices we have had the most success with the Gottman Method due to it’s structured assessment, focus on strengths and practical strategies that start working right away.
The Gottman Method focuses on helping couples build a strong foundation of friendship and intimacy, and research show it is effective for couples dealing with a range of issues.
As you are talking to potential therapists, don’t be afraid to ask them about their approach and how many years of mentorship they received in their advanced training.
Questions to ask a potential couples therapist
When you’re considering a potential couples therapist, there are several questions you should ask to help you determine if they are the right fit. Here are a few to get you started:
- What is your experience working with couples?
- What kind of consultation do you receive on a regular basis? (individual or group supervision is recommended for all couples therapists, not just early career clinicians)
- What type of couples therapy do you specialize in?
- How do you approach working with couples?
- What is your success rate with couples?
- What should we expect from our therapy sessions?
- How long do you typically work with couples?
Asking these questions can help you understand the therapist’s experience and approach and whether they will fit your needs well. Listen not only to the answers but the tone and style that they use as they interact with you.
As much as choosing a therapist requires research, there is also a gut feeling you can pay attention to when asking yourself:
Is this couples therapist someone we’ll feel comfortable talking to?
Red flags to watch out for when choosing a couples therapist
While there are many great couples therapists out there, unfortunately, there are also some bad ones. Here are some red flags to watch out for when choosing a couples therapist:
- They don’t have the proper qualifications or credentials.
- They are not regularly consulting with a team or supervisor
- They don’t have experience working with couples.
- They don’t have a clear approach to working with couples.
- They are not neutral or objective.
- They don’t listen or seem to understand your concerns.
- They push a specific agenda or approach rather than tailoring their approach to your needs.
If you encounter any of these red flags, it’s best to look for a different therapist who is a better fit.
How to prepare for your first couples therapy session
Once you’ve found a couples therapist who seems like a good fit, preparing for your first session is important.
Here are some tips to help you get ready:
- Make sure you and your partner are on the same page about your goals for therapy.
- Write down any questions or concerns you want to bring up with your therapist.
- Be open and honest with your therapist about your relationship and any issues you’re struggling with.
- Be prepared to listen to your partner’s perspective and be open to feedback from your therapist.
Remember, the first session is just the beginning – it may take several sessions before you start to see progress.
What to expect during couples therapy sessions
There are two options for couples therapists structure their sessions
Intensive Couples Therapy (Also Called Marathon Sessions)
Intensive couples therapy sessions are ideal for couples who want to take a few days off work and prioritize their relationship. If you don’t live close to a highly trained couples therapist, you might consider scheduling a getaway to carve out the time and space you need.
We have current availability for intensive couples therapy using the Gottman Method. Click HERE to learn more.
Traditional Couples Therapy
Tradition ouples therapy sessions typically last 50 or 80 minutes and are held on a regular basis, usually once a week or every other week. During the session, you and your partner will work with the therapist to identify patterns in your relationship and explore ways to improve your communication and connection.
Your therapist may give you homework assignments to work on between sessions, such as practicing active listening or having a date night. It’s important to take these assignments seriously and prioritize them in your relationship.
The importance of communication in couples therapy
One of the key aspects of couples therapy is learning how to communicate effectively with your partner. This means not only expressing your own needs and concerns but also listening actively to your partner and trying to understand their perspective.
Your therapist will work with you and your partner to identify communication patterns that may be causing problems in your relationship and teach you conflict management strategies for improving your communication. These may include using “I” statements instead of “you” statements, taking breaks during heated discussions, and practicing active listening.
How to know if couples therapy is working
It can be difficult to know if couples therapy is working, especially in the early stages. However, there are some signs to look out for that can indicate progress:
– You and your partner are communicating more effectively.
– You feel more connected to your partner.
– You can talk about conflicts and differences more easily.
– You feel more optimistic about the future of your relationship.
Keep in mind that progress may be slow, and setbacks are normal. It’s important to be patient and continue to work with your therapist to make progress.
Finding the right couples therapist can be daunting, but it’s worth the effort.
We are here to help!
- If you live in the Philadelphia area, you can meet in person at our beautiful offices in Bryn Mawr.
- If you live anywhere in Pennsylvania, you can receive telehealth couples therapy.
- If you are out of town, you can come in for an Intensive Session
Our intake coordinator is available to talk to you about your specific situation, answer any questions you have, and then schedule a discovery call with a couples therapist who might be a good fit. You then have a free 15 minute consultation with your potential specialist. If it doesn’t feel like a good fit, you may request a different provider.
A good therapist can help you and your partner improve your communication, strengthen your connection, and work through the challenges that arise in any relationship. Remember, therapy is a journey, and it may take time and effort to see progress, but with the right therapist, you can build a stronger, healthier relationship.