The majority of long-term relationships hit a snag at some point or another, and the problems you could be facing may require professional attention. How does one go about finding a relationship counsellor both partners will agree to see? and spouse that can serve as a roadmap to finding the right relationship counsellor to work with you to save your union.
What are your primary issues?
Take the time to write down relationship issues, be specific but try to refrain from going on a tangent or getting caught up on small annoyances. List the issues that have you at one another’s throat and that could potentially end the relationship if they aren’t resolved. Your answers will help you determine if you need a relationship counsellor with a particular specialty such one who deals with primarily with infidelity, sexual dysfunction, abuse, family or child rearing or communication issues.
Are there specific preferences that you have?
Therapist preferences and requirements are two different things. An example of preference would be one of you preferring couple’s counseling in person rather than online, or maybe one would prefer to seek guidance from a spiritual leader like a childhood pastor. These types of factors would be considered flexible if you can agree to compromise. A crucial requirement would be that you and your partner are only willing to work with a female therapist if they’ve experienced a past trauma with a person of the opposite sex. Since you’ll need to divulge personal information during sessions, it’s important you both feel comfortable speaking with your therapist to make meaningful progress.
How do you plan to find your therapist?
Thankfully there are many ways one can scout for a potential relationship counsellor these days. You could consider reaching out to friends and family members for recommendations of counseling professionals. Searching online for a local therapist in your area is another avenue. Therapists can be found on a collective website with career profiles highlighting their areas of expertise, so it’s easier to determine if they meet the previously stated preferences for both you and your partner. Even more detailed portfolios will sometimes list the therapist’s monetary rates per session or per hour which helps you determine if that advisor is within your budget. Do your research; it’ll pay off literally and figuratively.
Will the initial contact be made together or separately?
Typically when a couple seeks counseling it’s because one person in the relationship feels it’s necessary while the other is hesitant to bring in a professional. This feeling leads to one being resistant to the therapy process and can cause a breakdown of the partnership before the real work even begins. If you feel your spouse would struggle with counseling, the best thing would be to have them initiate contact with the relationship counsellor you’ve chosen together. This small act will help them feel their input is equally valued from the very beginning and put their fears of being dubbed the “problem one” in the relationship. The best thing would be for you to make this call together no matter who leads the conversation so that you can both assess how you felt about the professional you spoke with. How did they make you feel, good or bad vibes? Was the call rushed, unprofessional, or sketchy in any way? First impressions are a big deal, pay attention to that initial interaction and what your gut is telling you.
Do you feel comfortable during the first appointment?
Every relationship counsellor has individual approaches when it comes to therapy, but the first meeting usually involves answering questions such as why you feel you need counseling, what your expectations are, and the outcome you’re hoping for. Since you’ll both be extremely nervous during that first appointment it’s advisable you take the answers to the first question asked on this checklist to draw from. Again, notice how you feel now that you’re actually in the room with your new therapist. Do you feel comfortable in their presence, that your concerns are heard even if they aren’t in agreement with you? After that first session, you or your partner may be able to see that they aren’t the therapist for you. The therapist may see that as well and point you in the right direction to have your needs met by a colleague of theirs. If all feels right with the first appointment, congrats on finding the right relationship counsellor and be sure to schedule your second session.
Admitting your relationship needs extra support can be hard, but taking the time ask yourself and partner the questions above before seeking help will give you a steady leg to lean on. These questions will also open the door to effectively communicating with one another before you even meet with the therapist, making the overall process more likely to succeed. Make the first step, then baby steps, and soon your relationship could be up and running even better than before all because you found the right one (again).