Recovering from infidelity in a marriage can be a tough road but for couples that are committed to strengthening their marriage, a marriage counselor can help. Many couples choose to seek help from a third party, normally a marriage counselor, who can help them work through the issues of trust, love, and anger that they have experienced.
While a marriage counselor can come from a variety of backgrounds, choosing the right one can have a significant impact on the quality of the counseling sessions. As you would with any other professional, you should spend a few minutes interviewing potential counselors to find out which one would work best with your situation. The following are ten criteria you should consider when choosing a marriage counselor:
What is their background and training? Each state has different rules about who can work as a counselor, so not all therapists are equal. You should look for someone who has a formal education in counseling, as well as a person who has some experience working with married couples. If your therapist is self-trained or has learned only from attending workshops, or if he or she is not licensed in your state, you should consider a different therapist.
How much experience do they have with married couples? While a younger therapist may have fewer years of experience, he or she should still be able to tell you how much of his or her time is spent counseling couples. Marriage counseling is a difficult area of therapy, and it takes someone who is committed to making marriages work to give you the care your marriage needs.
How many couples that a therapist sees are able to successfully work out their differences? Some therapists see themselves primarily as a way to ease the transition from married to divorced, and these counselors are not the best choice for a couple who wants to fix their relationship. While no therapist should be able to realistically quote a perfect record, they should be able to give you an honest answer that you can use to evaluate the therapists commitment to successful marriages.
How does the therapist feel about keeping a relationship together despite problems? Your therapist should be couples oriented, rather than singles oriented, and he or she should speak in that language. If the counselor you speak to talks more about helping each person figure out what they want, rather than talking about figuring out what is best for the marriage, you may want to seek a more marriage-oriented counselor.
Does your therapist have credentials and is he or she recognized by professional organizations? There are several professional organizations that accredit marriage therapists, primarily the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. While accreditation doesn’t guarantee a great match, it can give you some confidence in your choice.
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Does your therapist have experience with couples who are dealing with your situation? Describe your situation to your therapist, including other issues like children, work, medical issues, or other major problems that are part of your relationship. Having a marriage counselor who can relate to those issues or who has handled the same type of problems in the past may make him or her more effective.
Does your therapist hold the same values you do? Whether they are religious, cultural, or simply personal values, having a therapist who understands what is important to you will ensure that you can come to a solution that you are comfortable with. You may also want to ask about the therapist’s personal background to find out if he or she comes from a similar background as you and your spouse.
When is your therapist available? While most therapists work standard business hours, if your schedule won’t accommodate visits during the daytime, you should ask whether he or she sees clients at other times. A therapist who will work with you in terms of appointment times and schedules is more likely to be understanding about other specific issues that apply to your marriage.
Will the therapist also see you separately? It takes two people to make a marriage, but it also takes two people to make a troubled marriage. If you and your partner have problems of your own that you need to work through, seeing the therapist separately may help you determine what problems you need to address on your own. Seeing the same therapist separately and together can help your therapist develop a better understanding of you as individuals and as a couple.
Does your therapist make you feel comfortable? You should never feel that a marriage counselor is making judgments about your situation, and he or she should never make you feel embarrassed when you are discussing problems. He or she should make you feel at home, and your spouse should feel the same way.
Overcoming infidelity takes understanding and time, and a marriage counselor can give you and your spouse the space you need to evaluate your marriage and determine what it will take to create a stronger relationship. Choosing the right therapist can make the experience a more pleasant and successful one, which is why it makes sense to talk to several and make a careful choice. As you move forward in your relationship, a marriage counselor can be your guide and friend along the way.