Couples counselling is a sensitive and intimate act. You’re asked to be vulnerable and share personal information with someone who was previously a stranger. Finding the right relationship counsellor helps ease much of this early tension. But with so many therapists out there, discovering the right one can seem overwhelming.
Taking the time to research, question, and evaluate a potential relationship counsellor before getting started helps alleviate your apprehension about couples counselling. Setting you up for successful sessions.
Here are six tips that will help you choose a relationship counsellor that’s the right fit, so you can get started achieving your relationship goals.
Look for a Relationship Counsellor With the Right Credentials
When selecting your relationship counsellor, one of the first things you should check is their educational background. Do they hold the right accreditations for relationship counselling and are they registered with any professional associations.
In British Columbia, the counselling profession is not yet regulated and anyone with any type of background can call themselves a counsellor. Counsellors are not required to register with any professional associations and are allowed to practice counselling, including couples counselling, without any formal education or training in the field. It goes without saying that it’s safer to search for an accredited relationship counsellor that has undergone training specific to the therapy you’re seeking.
Maybe you were introduced to a therapist by a friend who received excellent counselling for their work-related stress or found a famous therapist online who has helped many individuals battle a specific issue. These recommendations don’t necessarily mean that their results will transfer to your marriage counselling. You need to consider the types of counselling the person received and if that would apply to your relationship.
You will also want to ensure that the relationship counsellor you’re considering has specialized training in couples therapy. There are many types of therapists with a range of different backgrounds and education. Not every licensed therapist has specific training in couples counselling. Specialized training, like what’s required to become a relationship counsellor, typically requires advanced training and education.
Verify that the relationship counsellor you’re considering has received guided training and supervision from certified therapists within the methods or specializations they’ve received. Time spent under supervision helps ensure they learned to apply the techniques correctly and how to practically apply the methods in a real-world situation.
If the relationship counsellor you’re considering has any specialized licenses, diplomas, or other qualifications, that information should be easily accessible to you when researching the relationship counsellor. If you struggle to find proof of their studies or any red flags, you should move on and consider another counsellor.
Some of the more popular methods and professional training for relationship counsellors include:
- The Developmental Model of Couples Therapy
- The Gottman Method Couples Therapy
- Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT)
- Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy (PACT)
Search Reputable Directories
When searching for a licensed relationship counsellor, it’s only natural to use the methods we use for everything else – Google.
While this method can work, you need to apply stringent checks on anything you find that seems too good to be true. Particularly if you’re seeing results on sites that link to multiple other areas or services, such as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. These can be great places to find a good deal on a used guitar or bicycle but aren’t the best places to discover your relationship counsellor.
Thankfully, there are trusted, reputable directories that will only list a relationship counsellor that has gone through their system, received accreditation and been appropriately vetted. This gives you extra confidence that they have been through the system in question, are known by their peers, and have professional accountability.
- Psychology Today
- Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA)
Interview Them Before the First Session
Once you’ve located a relationship counsellor, you would like to consider seeing, it’s time to interview them for the position.
You will be spending time with this person over the coming weeks, months, and possibly even years. You must conduct due diligence before starting to ensure that you’re not wasting your time or theirs. You’ll want to work with a relationship counsellor that fits your personality as well as the personality of your relationship.
Any reputable relationship counsellor will be happy to openly discuss practical and philosophical matters with you before starting treatments. They understand that the success of the sessions hinges on how much trust you can place in them as a relationship counsellor and how vulnerable you can be with your partner during sessions. If you’re not a good fit, you won’t be able to go to the places required to strengthen your relationship.
Some of the questions you should ask your prospective relationship counsellor:
- Why did you choose couples counselling over another specialization?
- How do you define success as a relationship counsellor?
- How long can we expect to be in therapy?
- How much of your practice is devoted to working as a relationship counsellor?
- What is your background and training that qualifies you as a relationship counsellor?
- What does a typical session with you look like?
- Do you have any additional specializations in specific areas like trauma, depression, etc.?
- What is your opinion about divorce, and do you feel it’s right for a relationship counsellor to recommend it to a couple?
- As a relationship counsellor, what percentage of your couples have experienced success?
In addition to the questions suggested above, go through your goals and expectations with your partner before calling. Talk about what fears and hang-ups you have that worry you about working with a relationship counsellor. Share these questions with your potential relationship counsellor during the interview phase and feel out their answers to your concerns. It might just help you alleviate some of your fears before getting started, which will make the subsequent sessions start off easier.
Consider the Details
They say the devil’s in the details. This is as true with choosing a relationship counsellor as with anything else.
For example, you find a fantastic, trusted relationship counsellor with a long history of successful treatments. But this counsellor is located two hours away, and your work often runs late. Will you be able to continuously make the trek out to see this counselor? Do they offer telehealth services, so you could avoid the trip altogether, greatly improving the chances you keep up with your sessions.
Depending on your relationship needs or goals, you might be in a hurry to get started with a relationship counsellor. But don’t overlook the little details that can add up over time. Location, what time they’re available, and other little details will grow in importance the longer you work together.
Affordability & Budgeting Concerns
Will your insurance cover this relationship counsellor? There’s no point in starting something if the payments will become untenable over the long term. If you’re looking to start therapy with a private relationship counsellor, you’ll want to check with your insurance before you get started.
Similar to other commitments you make towards self-improvement, like signing up for a gym membership, buying clothes, or traveling, counselling requires an investment of your resources. You’re committing money and your valuable time to every session.
You are considering counselling because you sense deep down that something is “missing” in your life and relationship. Relationship counselling is a way to invest in your and your relationship’s future. If saving, repairing, or strengthening your relationship is the end goal, then therapy is a worthy investment. It gives you a real chance to grow and develop a life that leads to deeper connections and greater satisfaction.
Trust Your Instincts
If you find yourself talking freely and feeling open, heard, comfortable, and relaxed with the relationship counsellor during your interview session, you might have found your match. Success in couples counselling stems from your ability to be vulnerable and honest. A good relationship counsellor is invested and committed to your relationship’s success. They will also challenge you and encourage you to leave your comfort zone.
This can only happen when you trust your relationship counsellor. Some of this trust will build naturally over time. But, if something feels off or like it’s not a good match, don’t be afraid to trust your instincts and move on. We have a lifetime of experience measuring people and relationships and know deep down when something isn’t a good fit.
However, it’s important to note that many people feel apprehensive about seeing a relationship counsellor. Maybe this stems from their perceptions of what others have said, what they’ve seen on TV, or other factors. But it’s important to separate your natural anxiety over therapy in general from this specific relationship counsellor.
Good Luck in Finding Your Relationship Counsellor
The fact that you’re looking for a relationship counsellor shows your commitment to making a change. That is something to celebrate already!
Like when you were looking for your partner, choosing the right relationship counsellor takes time, patience, and a bit of diligence. But this time spent up front ensuring a good fit saves you time and money.
If you have any questions about how I work as a relationship counsellor or would like to schedule an introductory consultation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.
I am happy to talk to you and answer any questions you might have. I promise to extend the same courtesy to you. If I feel like one of my peers could better serve your needs, I will refer you to them without hesitation. My goal is to ensure you have the relationship counsellor to help your relationship thrive.