A Comprehensive Guide to the Critical Questions to Ask a Marriage Counselor
Before starting marriage counseling, your mind may be racing with questions. You may wonder if the therapist can save your marriage. You may wonder what to expect during each session. You may even wonder whether or not a divorce is the right option for you. With so many questions in mind, it can be hard to narrow your list of questions down to a select few, and it can be overwhelming to determine what you should ask the therapist right away. Before hiring a therapist, you should put together a short list of questions, and the following guide can help you decide which questions to ask a marriage counselor to ensure you find the right professional for your needs.
1) Do You Accept My Insurance or Offer Services on a Sliding Scale?
Unfortunately, the cost of marriage counseling or therapy can be expensive, and the easiest way to offset these expenses is by using your insurance. Before scheduling a session with any mental health professional, ask if your insurance is covered. You may also want to call your insurer and ask for a list of mental health care providers within your network. If your insurance company doesn’t cover the cost of marriage therapy, ask if the therapist is willing to offer you services on a sliding scale. Nearly two-thirds of all marriage and family therapists offer services on a sliding scale. Even if they don’t advertise they have a sliding scale, you may want to ask anyway. An affirmative answer could save you a lot of money.
2) Have You Worked with Couples Like Us Before?
The more experience a therapist has with your type of relationship, the better equipped he or she will be to help you. If you or your partner has a drug or alcohol addiction or an anger management problem, be sure that you pick a therapist who has experience with those particular issues. If you have personality disorders like borderline personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder, make sure your therapist has experience with those disorders. After ensuring your therapist is experienced with your problems, ask which type of therapeutic practices have worked with people like you. If possible, ask if the therapist has any statistics on how successful previous methods were with couples that share your issues.
3) Which Type of Therapy Do You Use
There are numerous types of therapy, and the type that will work the best for you depends upon your unique personality and any mental health issues you may have. One of the most important questions you’ll ask is about the type of marriage therapy your therapist uses. Many couples have had great success with Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). After trying EFT, 90 percent of couples report they feel better. Another type of therapy that is also effective is called Solution-Focused Brief Therapy or SFBT. SFBT focuses on things that are working in your relationship. It looks at the tools you’re using during times of success, and it helps you to apply those tools to situations that aren’t working.
4) What Type of Mental Health Professional Are You?
There are many different types of therapists, and they all have different training and different backgrounds. One of your questions should be about what type of training and experience your therapist has. Psychologists are professionals who have earned a doctoral degree in psychology. They treat their patients using a wide range of therapeutic approaches. Psychiatrists are mental health professionals who are also medical doctors or doctors of osteopathy, and they can prescribe medicine. Licensed family and marriage therapists are professionals who have been specially trained to work with families and couples. Working with a family and marriage therapist may be cheaper than working with psychiatrists or psychologists, and research indicates that many consumers find no difference at all when working with these professionals.
Related Article: 7 Tips to Finding a Great Marriage Counselor
5) What Should We Expect from Therapy
Going into therapy blind can be scary for many couples, and the more you know about what’s coming, the better prepared you may feel. Before starting work with any therapist, you should talk about what to expect. Is the therapist just going to let the two of you talk? Does the therapist have any tools to help you move away from blame and towards constructive communication skills? Will each person have a chance to talk during the marriage therapy sessions? Will the marriage counselor ever ask to see the two of you separately? Does the marriage counselor use any types of Eastern medicine such as mindfulness training or yoga during their sessions? Just understanding how each session will progress can be greatly reassuring for many couples.
Learn more on how to avoid divorce in our Marriage Counseling Guide.
Interesting that you did not mention the most famous researcher in couples therapy, John Gottman and the Gottman method, Seems to be a very conspicuous oversight.
Hi Dan, thanks for your comment. We actually feature the Gottmans in one of our articles on the Best Marriage Retreats in the US
Your comment is noted and we will keep this in mind when we refresh this article.