Going to marriage counseling for the first time? The following tips will help you get the most out of the marriage counseling experience.
1) Search for an Appropriate Marriage Counselor
Qualified therapists will have one or more of these distinctions:
- LMFT — Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
- LCSW — Licensed Clinical Social Worker
- LSW — Licensed Social Worker
- LPC — Licensed Professional Counselor
- LMHC — Licensed Mental Health Counselor
If you are looking for a marriage therapist, finding an LMFT or LMFTA is the specialty you are need. Other therapists may or may not be trained in relationship counseling, but Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists are guaranteed to be.
For more help, read our article on how to find a good marriage counselor.
2) Decide If Your Therapist Is a Good Fit
Ask yourself the following questions: Do I like my therapist? Am I confident this person can help me? Does my therapist have a plan for our sessions? Am I comfortable with my therapist? Is my therapist non-judgmental? Is my therapist professional? Is my therapist a good match for my personality and worldview?
This seems like a lot of questions, but being able to answer “yes” to each one lets you know you have found a good fit.
3) Have a Goal in Mind
When beginning therapy, your therapist will ask what goals you would like to set for the course of therapy. If you do not arrive with a goal in mind, your therapist will work with you to identify them, but it definitely helps to spend some time discussing it beforehand with your partner. With specific goals in mind, your therapist will know what you are hoping to change, and will tailor the therapy to help meet your needs.
4) Be Willing to Work
It is important to understand counseling is a combined effort. Your therapist cannot solve your problems for you. You must be willing to work as hard as your marriage therapist. This requires you to come prepared for each session, do your homework, and apply what you have learned outside of therapy. You will not get the results you desire without hard work.
5) Do Your Homework
Your therapist may suggest you read a book, take a quiz, try an experiment, or alter your behavior in some way. If both of you agree this homework assignment will help you get closer to reaching your goal, set aside time to get it done. Not only will the homework itself help, but you’ll also be establishing a habit of taking care of the relationship outside of the counseling hour.
6) Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Therapy is all about change. Change can be both emotionally and physically painful. For example, if you want to get in shape and start working out, your muscles will ache at first because they are not used to the activity and they are growing. It is a process that requires time and dedication. The same is true for marriage counseling. Making changes involves taking risks and a certain degree of discomfort. Change can be difficult but is wholly worth the effort.
7) Give Feedback
If something your therapist suggests isn’t working for you, say so. Each couple is different, so your therapist needs to know what works best for your particular relationship. At that point, your therapist can either alter their approach or refer you to someone who might be a better fit.