For effective couples therapy, it’s important to know that your therapist has specific advanced training in couples therapy, and that he or she sees a lot of couples in their practice. Couples therapy is a very different skill from individual therapy, so it’s essential that you make sure you will get what you want from the sessions by working with an expert. Unfortunately, many people go to “couples therapy” and have unsuccessful experiences, in part because the therapist was not specifically trained in couples therapy.
Here at InnerWell, our couples therapists have extensive training in Emotionally Focused Therapy, the most effective couples therapy approach available today (research show 75-80% of couples experiencing significant improvement), and also in Brief Discernment Counseling, an innovative short-term process for helping couples on the brink find clarity in their next steps. We have additional advanced professional training in numerous specific issues and approaches relevant to couples, including sexuality, affairs, differentiation, communication, managing life transitions, step-parenting and more.
Taking the First Step
Many people start the process by calling one or more therapists, learning about their approach and credentials, and getting a sense of how it is to talk with them on the phone. That can help you determine if you would like to take the next step by meeting in person to see if it feels like a potentially good match. Other times, you can get a good sense of someone and get your questions answered through an email exchange and from their website. Sometimes it takes a few sessions to get comfortable with a new therapist, but it shouldn’t take much longer than that to have a sense if it’s a good fit.
It is important that you find someone with whom you and your partner feel comfortable and understood. Other qualities you might look for is someone who is compassionate, someone with whom you feel you can open up and be honest with, someone who both accepts you for who you are and believes in the possibility for your continued growth and unfolding, and someone who can help you illuminate and untangle the bigger picture of the specific problems you face.
Some screening questions you might ask a potential couples therapist:
- What sort of specialty training do you have in couples therapy? (It’s okay to ask people to be specific!)
- What percentage of your practice is couples, compared to individuals? (Look for someone whose practice is at least 50% couples.)
Our primary relationships are at the heart of our lives and the foundation for our children, when there are children involved. You deserve a highly skilled, compassionate therapist who specializes in the issues you’re dealing with, and who has a clear map to help couples find their way back to connection and strong, healthy relationships.