Marriage Counsellors

Unsurprisingly, marriage counsellors are not made equal. They often come from diverse backgrounds, have different levels of experience and use methods that are unique to their way of practice. What is surprising though…and this might actually come as a shock to you…is that many marriage counsellors do not have any formal training or qualification in relationship guidance! US-based surveys suggest that nearly 80% of counsellors in private practice who provide couples therapy, have never taken a couples therapy course, or sat any sort of examination relating to relationship advice.

If you want to be sure that you are getting value for your relationship, by giving it the best possible chance to survive and improve, then you want to be sure that the marriage counsellors you choose can demonstrate the necessary skills required. But how do you know what skill are required? Here is a run down of questions to ask a marriage counsellor before you sign up.

How many years have you been a counsellor?

This is perhaps the most obvious question, and yet the most irrelevant. How long a counsellor has been practicing, whether it be 5-years, 10-years or 15-years really makes little difference in the overall scheme of things. What is more important is the type of experience marriage counsellors have, their methods and their success rate.

What are your counselling qualifications (e.g. academic degree)?

Formal training in the theory of relationship counselling is very important. Your marriage is an investment, so just as with all other types of investment, you want to be sure that you are going to receive a good return on it in the final outcome. Not only should you seek out marriage counsellors who are familiar with the “how” of relationship management, but they should also be knowledgeable as to the “why”. It is recommended that you choose a marriage counsellor who has a minimum of a Ph.D. qualification in psychology and is also licensed to practice as both a marriage counsellor/therapist AND as a family therapist.

Do you help clients avoid some of the emotional hazards of marital adjustment?

Understanding your marriage counsellor’s approach to your situation, including what they do and do not offer as part of their service, is an important element in your decision-making process. Some marriage counsellors will take their clients through the process in a way they best know how, and let the chips fall where they may. This can work well for some relationships, especially if clients are less emotionally stressed. For others though, a more holistic approach is needed where raw emotions are controlled and solutions provided to avoid emotional hazards.

Do you help motivate your clients to complete the program successfully?

Motivation is often the difference between success and failure in marriage counselling. In many relationships that receive counselling, one partner is generally more enthusiastic about the process than the other. This can lead to tensions in which motivation as a couple to see therapy through to a successful conclusion is low or very low. It is in situations like these that both partners need a “comfort zone” – a safety net that they can fall back against when loss of motivation does not have to signal the end of the relationship. A marriage counsellor should be that safety net, where in times that motivation is absent, they will pull out all the stops to get you motivated, and to make sure that you see the program through to the final session.

Do you suggest strategies to solve your clients’ marital problems?

Couples seek marriage counsel as a way to discover solutions to difficulties encountered in their relationship. Often, the solutions are already inside of them, and just need to be bought to the forefront of their minds. Marriage counsellors who suggest strategies to make this happen are generally more successful at what they do, thus giving you the best chance of being able to resolve your marital problems.

Good luck!



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