How to choose a Couple Therapist

With couples divorcing and splitting up at the highest rate modern time, quality couple therapy is a must. And, finding a qualified couple therapist is essential. Only 14% of therapists in the United States that state they do couple therapy have actually had training in how to do couple therapy. Most therapists claiming to be competent in working with couples are applying training they received in working with individuals to the couple dynamic and think that this will work; it doesn’t. Here is a quick list of things to ask a potential couple therapist during the interviewing process.

1) Have you actually had training in working with couples? If so, what where the classes/seminars titled? This will help you know if the therapist is being honest with you about their qualifications.

2) How many couples have you seen in your practice within the last 12 months?

3) What theoretical perspective do you conceptualize your couples with? There are two very well known theoretical perspectives designed specifically for working with couples. They are Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT) and IMAGO therapy. If the therapist does not incorporate a theory then they will have no idea where they are going with the couple and you will be wasting precious resources and time in their care.

4) Does the therapist work on communication skills? This is a tricky one. If the therapist answers “Yes” and does not qualify their answer, you may be in trouble. For example, research clearly states that working on teaching a couple how use “I” statements and other basic communication techniques does not work. Communication is about trust. If the couple does not trust their partner then the words coming out of their mouths will not be taken in and listened to.

5) Does the therapist split the couple up and work with them individually? If they do, then they are not a couple therapist; they are an individual therapist. Only in extreme cases should a couple be split up and worked with separately i.e.: domestic violence, unprocessed trauma, active substance abuse. Splitting a couple up for one (1) session for assessment purposes is ok as long as that is the reason for the division.

6) How does the therapist ensure that they do not take sides? This question will help understand how the therapist conceptualizes the couple’s dynamic. Do they see the couple as two people impacting the other and therefore causing a reaction that further impacts their partner? Couples are systems and just like interlocking gears, one can’t move without affecting the other.

7) Does the therapist see the couple as an “Emotional Bond” or a contract that needs to be renegotiated? Therapists that give their couples tasks to complete such as going on more dates or doing more chores around the house are missing the point. “It’s not about the trash!!!” It’s about the emotional bond between the couple and when that emotional bond is not strong enough, the couple will respond with distress. These tasks to do more chores or bring home more flowers try to get at strengthening that bond. However, without directly focusing on how that bond is weakened, the couple therapist will be wasting more time and missing the point completely.

For more information please visit my website at:

http://DrKauppTherapy.com

or at my blog:

http://sandiegocoupletherapistblog.blogspot.com/

Mark A. Kaupp, Psy.D., Marriage,

Family Therapist, License #MFC33213.

25 thoughts on “How to choose a Couple Therapist”

  1. A friend of mine has been having some relationship problems, and they were thinking about getting some help before things escalated. I really like that you say to see if they work on communication skills with you. He has told me that he wished they would communicate more, and this might be a good time to fix that.

  2. Thanks for the tip to ask your therapist if they have had actual training in working with couples. You also suggested asking your therapist how many couples they have seen within the last 12 months. I think it’s a good idea to choose a therapist that is local to you so that you don’t have to travel too far to make an appointment, especially if it’s an emergency one.

  3. I liked when you talked about how a couple therapist would work with both people at the same time. It makes sense that doing this can help them know how their patients act around each other and how to best help them. I can see how consulting with the BBB and with several offices can help you make sure you find someone you feel comfortable with.

  4. There really is a lot that you have to look for when choosing a good marriage counselor or couples therapist. However, I like that the article warns couples against counselors that slit them up when talking. After all, you ideally want to work out your issues together, not apart.

  5. You make a good point that your therapist should work with your family together in most cases rather than separately. I think it can help couples to be together when instruction and advice is given because it helps them both know what was learned and discussed. This could help provide a bit more opportunity for open communication between the couple (or family members) and, hopefully, build trust again, in my opinion.

  6. Thank you for talking about the importance of finding a family counselor that treats the couple as an “emotional bond.” It makes sense that a professional that sees couples like this would be more perceptive to their needs and be able to suggest proper treatments to strengthen their relationship. A friend of mine is going trough rough times with his wife and are planning on consulting with a family counselor so I wanted to do some research for them.

  7. I didn’t realize how important it is to choose a marriage counselor that has good communication skills to ensure they can help you trust your partner more. My sister has been having some issues in her marriage. Hopefully, this info can help her find a counselor that can help bring her closer to her husband.

  8. Thanks for the great tips to find the best marriage or couple counseling services. I didn’t think of visiting with a counselor separately, but it makes sense that it would be able to create an environment to dig deeper into the issues of the couple. I’ll be sure to tell my friend because she and her husband have been really struggling lately and I think marriage counseling would be a great solution.

  9. These are some really interesting points, especially the stuff you say about communication needing to be built around trust. Because of that, while it is important for a couples counselor to help you build communication, if you can’t trust them then you won’t get far. When you and your loved one go looking for a couples counselor you need to focus on choosing one that you can both trust and confide in and encourage you to do the same.

  10. I like how you say that you would want to find a therapist that works on their communication skills with you. It would be good to have someone who will help you and your partner communicate better. My brother is looking for a marriage therapist, so he’ll have to find someone who will help him improve his communication skills.

  11. My husband and I have been going through some problems since he’s been back in the states. He mentioned that we should probably go see someone together and I am all on board. I have never thought to ask if the therapist had experience working with people like us. I just assumed I would go with someone we liked.

  12. Thank you so much for mentioning how a good couples therapist should be able to work with both persons at the same time when trying to help them with their problems. It is important to remember that taking the time to understand this can help you find the best therapist to help you save your marriage. I can see how anyone looking into this would want to take the time to look around and compare several therapists in order to find one that has a good reputation and experience with the type of help you need.

  13. I agree that you would want to consider if a marriage therapist works on your communication skills. It would be good to find someone who will help you communicate better. My brother has been fighting with his wife a lot and is looking for a marriage counselor, so he’ll have to choose one that helps with his communication skills.

  14. I agree, communication is an absolute must when it comes to couples and the therapist they choose has to enforce that idea. The article makes a particularly good point about communication being centered around trust. The therapist has to instill the idea that the two people in the relationship trust each other enough to share anything with one another.

  15. My best friend is looking for a family counselor, and I’m trying to help her in the selection process. I appreciate our advice to find a counselor who will not take sides with one person from the marriage, since it is important that both are treated equally since both affect the other. This is great advice, and we’ll have to make sure that she talks to the therapist about this before she chooses one!

  16. Your advice to choose a therapist that will work on communication skills based on trust would be important. A great way to find this would be to look online at reviews and to visit them in person. Visiting the therapist in person should give you the chance to ask questions about their counseling services as well as test their communication skills and methods for yourself in order to see if you’re comfortable with them.

  17. I didn’t know that only 14 percent of therapists have training in couple therapy. I’m sure it’s better to find a therapist who has this experience if you need help with your marriage. This will help you get the most out of your sessions, in my opinion.

  18. I like that you recommended finding out the number of couples that the couple therapist that you’re interested in have seen in their practice within the last 12 months. Now that my husband and I have been having issues, I want to find a couple therapist that’s experienced in helping couples to resolve their issues. It will surely be ideal for us to find a couple therapist that’s actively helping a good number of couples. Thanks!

  19. There is a lot that you should be looking for when choosing a family counselor and I like how thorough the article is about it. In fact, you bring up a particularly important point about making sure that you choose one that helps you work on communication skills. That way you know how to properly communicate to each other even outside of the therapy clinic.

  20. I’ve been looking for a therapist for my brother. I’m glad you talked about asking a therapy service if they have experience with the help you need. I’m going to have to look for a good therapy option and see what we can find!

  21. My sister and her husband are having trouble with their marriage. It was discussed here that when choosing a therapist, it’s best to ask how many couples are dealing with. Moreover, it’s advisable to talk to professionals when considering couples therapy.

  22. I agree that you need someone who has been trained in working with couples. It would be good to consider their training in order to know that they are qualified. My husband and I are trying to work through some problems, so we’ll have to consider their training first.

  23. My sister and her husband have gone through a lot in the past few years and their relationship is suffering. They’re looking for a couples counselor, but want to make sure it’s somehow who’s qualified to help their relationship. I like this list of questions, I think it’s very important to ask a potential therapist if they are trained in working with couples.

  24. I like that you said you should ask the therapist how many couples they have seen in their practice in the last 12 months. This will help you see how popular they are and how much experience they have. If they have worked with more couples, they will have a better chance at understanding how to help you as a couple.

  25. Thanks for these tips for finding a couple therapist. I’m glad that you mentioned it could be good to find a therapist that could work on communication skills, especially since communication is about trust. It seems important to also ask a therapist for clarification on techniques they do to improve communication, especially to understand what methods they use.

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