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What to Look for in a Good Marriage Counselor

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Are you and your partner facing challenges in your marriage? Seeking the guidance of a professional marriage counselor can be a transformative step towards resolving conflicts and strengthening your relationship. However, not all marriage counselors are created equal, and finding the right one for you and your spouse is crucial. In this blog, we will explore the key qualities and attributes to look for in a good marriage counselor. From effective communication skills and empathy to specialized expertise and a neutral approach, we will provide valuable insights to help you make an informed decision and embark on a journey towards healing and growth.

What is a Marriage Counselor?

Marriage therapists or counselors help couples in all stages of marriage, from newlyweds to those who have been married for many years. They help couples communicate better, understand each other's needs, and resolve conflict. Marriage counselors can help couples plan for their future and strengthen their relationship, and they can also provide guidance on how to deal with specific marital issues such as infidelity or financial problems.

In order to become licensed as a marriage counselor, a person must first complete educational requirements such as master's degree in counseling, psychology, or social work. Many states have requirements that include specialized training in couples therapy in order to ensure that licensed marriage counselors have the skills to work effectively with couples. Marriage counselors typically have at least several years of specialized relationship counseling experience.

Marriage counselors typically see couples for one-hour therapy sessions, although some counselors may see couples for longer sessions. Outside of sessions, counselors may also give couples homework assignments to help them practice what they've learned during counseling.

Characteristics of a Good Marriage Counselor

A good marriage counselor should be someone who is systemic in thinking which creates an impartial and objective stance. They should also be a good listener, and able to understand both sides of every issue. Most importantly, they should be able to give clear, concise feedback that can help couples resolve their differences. They should also be respectful of each person’s individual needs and feelings, and be comfortable working with couples of all backgrounds. Here are the other characteristics you must look for in a prospective marriage counselor:

couple in therapy

Professionally trained with qualifications

A competent marriage counselor should be professionally trained and qualified in order to be effective. They should also be able to create a safe and supportive environment for couples to communicate openly and honestly. Marriage counselors will also have to have a good understanding of human psychology and be able to offer insights and guidance on resolving conflict.

Almost all marriage counselors will have a professional therapy license of some kind, showing that they've earned a masters degree in a mental health discipline and also completed a set number of hours of supervised therapy training and practice. This license could be one of several options, such as Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC), or Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). Which particular license doesn't matter so much as ensuring that your counselor is licensed.

You may think that an LMFT would have more marriage counseling training than another type of therapist, but this isn't necessarily true. Counselors often actually get their most valuable specialized training and experience after getting their license, through direct work experience and continuing education. So if you really want to know whether your counselor has solid marriage counseling experience, ask about how many years they've been working with couples. And look for someone who's continued to pursue advanced training in approaches to marriage counseling by attending workshops and seminars or getting specialized certifications.

Has a Concrete Goal

When considering a prospective marriage counselor, it is essential that they have a concrete goal in mind for your marriage. (Of course, your counselor won't come up with these goals alone--but they will support you to articulate your own relationship goals, and work to help you reach them). While some counseling sessions may be more open-ended, others may focus on specific goals such as communicating effectively or resolving conflict. A good counselor will tailor their approach to fit your needs and help you achieve the outcomes you desire.

Achieving a concrete goal for your marriage can seem daunting, but through the counseling process, it is achievable. If you are struggling to communicate with your spouse or resolve conflicts, consider seeking out the help of a marriage counselor. With their guidance and support, you can overcome these challenges and create a stronger, more connected relationship so you can reach the goals of therapy.

Calm and Collected

It can be difficult to remain calm during arguments, but a good marriage counselor will know how how to remain calm, present, and in control as a guide throughout the therapy process, even if things are getting heated. Marriage counselors are trained to handle conflict in a healthy way. They can help you and your spouse communicate better and understand each other’s needs when dealing with difficult or tense topics.

Knows How to Build Relationships

A good counselor knows how to build strong, healthy relationships with their clients. They understand that communication is key, and they work hard to ensure that both partners feel heard and understood. They also know how to handle conflict, and can help couples work through disagreements in a constructive way.

Makes The Client Feel Comfortable and Respected

A skilled counselor creates a warm and nonjudgmental environment where couples feel safe to express their emotions, concerns, and vulnerabilities. They actively listen to their clients, validate their experiences, and show empathy towards their struggles. By fostering a sense of trust and acceptance, the counselor enables couples to open up and engage in honest and productive conversations. This quality allows couples to feel heard, understood, and valued, paving the way for effective communication and meaningful progress in their journey towards a stronger and healthier relationship.

man smiling in therapy
Good Listener and Can Communicate Effectively

A good marriage counselor understands the importance of active listening, giving their undivided attention to each partner and creating a space where they can express themselves openly. They have excellent communication skills, both verbal and nonverbal, which enable them to convey empathy, understanding, and validation. Moreover, they can articulate their thoughts and insights clearly and concisely, ensuring that couples grasp their guidance and suggestions. By being attentive listeners and adept communicators, these counselors facilitate productive dialogue between partners, promote mutual understanding, and help couples navigate challenges and conflicts more effectively.

Benefits of Having a Marriage Counselor

When considering the benefits of having a marriage counselor, it's important to remember that marriage counseling is not a magic fix. It takes hard work from both partners to make a marriage successful. However, a good counselor can be a valuable asset, providing both guidance and support to build a healthier marriage. Here are some particular benefits:

Helps You Heal Old Issues

Marital therapy can help couples heal old issues that affect their relationship. With a skilled counselor, partners explore root causes of lingering relationship issues, such as past hurts, unresolved conflicts, or unmet needs. Creating a safe space, the counselor encourages open expression of feelings and concerns. Through addressing underlying issues and providing tools for communication and conflict resolution, marriage counseling fosters healing, forgiveness, and the chance to rebuild trust. This strengthens the relationship's foundation for a better future.

Helps You Avoid Future Problems

A good marriage counselor can help you avoid future problems in your relationship. They can help you identify the early warning signs of trouble, and teach you how to communicate well with your partner in order to stop future conflict as it's starting, before it becomes a big issue.

Helps You Understand You and Your Partner Better

A marriage counselor can help you understand your partner by providing a neutral and objective perspective on your relationship dynamics. A counselor will help you and your partner gain insight into each other's thoughts, emotions, and underlying needs. This deepened understanding can lead to better communication, increased compassion, and the ability to navigate conflicts with greater sensitivity and understanding.

Create a Safe Haven for Open Discussion

One of the most important benefits of marriage counseling is the creation of a haven for open discussion. Almost all couples have sensitive topics that they want to bring up but are nervous do so. A skilled counselor will facilitate a supportive and nonjudgmental space that can help you feel free to express your thoughts, feelings, and concerns, and finally have any important conversations you've been avoiding.

Resolves Conflicts and Issues

Marriage counseling can provide an effective road map for resolving conflicts and issues within a relationship. A skilled counselor provides couples with the tools and techniques necessary to communicate effectively and navigate conflicts in a constructive and respectful manner. By fostering open dialogue and encouraging active listening, the counselor can help couples identify and address the underlying causes of their issues. This process promotes greater understanding, strengthens emotional connections, and enables couples to work together towards resolution and the restoration of a healthier relationship.

Do We Need a Marriage Counselor Even if We’re Happy?

It's not just unhappy marriages that need counseling - happy ones do too. Even in the happiest relationships, there can be underlying issues or areas for improvement that could be addressed with professional guidance. A marriage counselor can provide valuable tools and insights to enhance communication, deepen emotional connection, and prevent potential problems down the road. Think of it as an investment in your relationship's long-term happiness and growth, rather than waiting for issues to arise.

couple on couch in therapy

Many couples wait until they’re in a crisis before they seek counseling, but that’s not always the best approach. If you’re already unhappy, it can be difficult to find the energy and motivation to work on your marriage. And by the time you reach the point where you can't ignore issues any longer, serious damage may already be done.

It’s much better to seek counseling when you’re just starting to feel disconnected from your spouse. This way, you can address the issues before they cause serious problems. Even if you’re happy with your marriage, it’s still worth meeting with a counselor to make sure you’re on the right track.

Getting Started with Marriage Counseling

If you're considering marriage counseling, it's important to find a counselor who is a good fit for you and your spouse. Look for someone who is trained in marriage counseling, has experience working with couples, and offers a style of counseling that you are comfortable with. It's also important to find someone who you can trust and feel safe talking to about sensitive topics.

At Evolve Therapy, all our therapists specialize in working with couples and helping them build strong, healthy relationships. We are all trained and experienced in Emotionally Focused Therapy, an evidence-based approach to couples therapy that is proven to consistently help build stronger relationships. If you're ready to take the next step to get started, we'd be more than happy to help you find a marriage counselor on our team who will be the best fit for you and your goals for therapy. Reach out today to start on the path to rebuilding or strengthening the love, connection, and harmony in your relationship.

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