An important aspect of a lasting and loving relationship is knowing where to look if you feel like you could benefit from the support of a professional counselor. Professional couples counseling can be beneficial if you are facing challenges in your relationship, going through a period of transition, or if you want to work on strengthening your relationship and preparing for conflicts that may arise in the future.
Although counseling has become more accepted throughout recent years, it is still common to feel scared or embarrassed about seeing a counselor due to the stigma around seeking professional help. However, there is no need to feel embarrassed about taking this step. Reaching out for counseling takes a lot of courage and is something to be proud of!
Once you and your partner are ready to reach out for counseling, it can be hard to know where to go. How do you sort through the many options of counselors in our community? How do you know if a counselor is the right fit for you and your partner? Can we even afford counseling? These are all potential questions that may come up as you start looking for a counselor.
Here are a few steps you can take to identify potential counselors who may be a good fit for you:
First, ask for recommendations!
One of the best ways to find a counselor is by asking the people you know and trust who they recommend. If you don’t have any personal contacts with counselors, consider professionals you know who might be able to offer a good recommendation, such as your doctor, your child’s pediatrician, a faith community leader, or a teacher or counselor at your child’s school.
Second, if you’re unable to get any personal or professional recommendations, then you can search one or more of the online directories of counselors.
Some of the main directories that are available include:
- The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (http://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/Directories/Find_a_Therapist.asp)
- Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists)
- Counselor Find (http://www.nbcc.org/Search/CounselorFind).
These directories usually allow you to search for a counselor by location, payment options, and areas of expertise.
Many counselors also have websites for their practice or agency, so once you and your partner have identified some good prospects, take some time to search their online profiles to get a better sense of whether or not they are a good fit.
Third, consider if a potential counselor is a good fit for both you and your partner.
You’ll help set the stage for a successful counseling experience if you can locate a counselor who meets as many preferences as possible for both you and your partner.
Fourth, once you’ve identified one or more good possible fits, reach out to speak with the counselor.
Many counselors offer prospective clients a chance to talk by phone – and sometimes in person – to get to know them before making a decision about whether to enter into a professional counseling relationship with them. If you have a chance to do this, some possible questions you could ask are: (1) What kind of training have you received to work with couples?; (2) Can you describe your counseling approach to me?; (3) What experience do you have with the issue my partner and I are facing currently?; (4) What are your fees and payment options?; (5) How often will we come for counseling sessions, how long will sessions last, and do you have any limits or expectations about how long you’d work with a client?
Want to know more?
Check out one of our previous blog posts: “How to Find a Counselor to Help With Relationship and Family Challenges”
And, check out this great recap of our pointers on finding a couples counselor in this YouTube video: