When choosing a couple’s therapist, most people do a quick google search “couples therapist” or “marriage therapist” in their area and book an appointment with the first therapist that seems to be accepting clients. However, finding a therapist that you can connect with and have a good rapport with can single handedly determine the outcome of your therapy. The therapeutic relationship is an extremely important factor in determining the success of therapy. That is why it is important to consider a few things before booking that first appointment. Before choosing a therapist, talk to your partner and consider which factors about the therapist would be important to both of you. Here is a list of things that are important to consider when choosing a therapist:
1. For many couples, their ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds are a significant part of their life. You may consider choosing a therapist of a similar background or choosing one that has multicultural training and experience working with a diverse client population.
2. Gender and age are important factors to consider as well. Some couples may prefer a female therapist and others may prefer a male therapist. If you’re a younger couple, you might find a younger therapist more relatable. Or the opposite may be true. I have worked with couples much older than myself for whom something else about me was more important than my age.
3. Once you narrow down 2-3 therapists based on the above considerations, read their profile. Many couples don’t do this step but it is an important one. Look through their educational background and their certifications. This will give you an idea of how they might approach therapy with you. For example, a therapist whose training and certifications are focused more on spirituality, they might bring more spiritual and religious elements of your relationship to the forefront. Choose your therapist wisely so you’re not wasting money and time and walking away from the experience disgruntled or disappointed. If you’re a couple struggling with sexual issues, it wouldn’t make sense to choose a therapist who’s training and experiences focus around substance use addictions.
Reading the therapist’s profile also gives you an idea of their style of working with their clients. Most therapists will have a blurb which can give you an idea of how they will approach therapy. Some therapists have a gentle and empathic approach, some have a practical/solution focused approach, some have a collaborative approach, some have a holistic approach, some have an emotion based approach while others have a cognitive approach, some have a spiritual approach, etc. When you read their profile, see which therapist’s style of talking and approach resonates more with you and connects more with how you are as a couple.
4. While therapy is a significant investment into your relationship, I would be lying if I said sessions are cheap. If you are in Canada and have private insurance, call your insurance company ahead of time to ask about what coverage they provide. If you are in the U.S., search through therapists that are within your insurance network. If you are paying out of pocket and can’t afford the rate per session, see if the therapist offers a sliding fee scale.
5. Once you decide on a therapist or two, contact them to set up a phone consultation. Most couples don’t realize this is an option or just skip this step. Don’t skip it! Most therapists offer a free 15 minute phone consultation. This is your chance to ask the therapist any questions you may have about them, their style, and their expertise. In doing so, you will be able to tell over the phone whether you can connect with the therapist or it’s best to find another one.
Finding the best fit can be the most difficult part of finding a therapist but the MOST important part. I can’t stress this enough: the therapeutic relationship you develop with your therapist plays a significant part in determining the success of therapy.
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