You’re having problems in your marriage. Do you wait for things to improve or do you seek help from a relationship therapist?
Signs You Need A Relationship Therapist
If you and your partner are very discouraged about your relationship, it is very likely you need a relationship therapist to help you resolve these issues. If the following list rings true for you, you definitely need professional help:
- Fighting more often
- Fights seem stuck on the same issues over and over again
- Thoughts of getting out of the relationship
- Questioning whether you still love your partner
- Feelings of anger, despair or depression
If you feel frustrated, and feel like you can’t change things by yourself or with your partner, it may be time to really assess your relationship. Here are some additional reasons why you may need a therapist.
Choosing A Relationship Therapist
Once you’ve decided to see a relationship therapist, how do you go about choosing one? You can certainly Google to find a list, and you can ask a trusted friend who may have seen a professional relationship therapist. They all seem like they could help, but how do you find the one who is right for you?
Finding the right person is important. He or she needs to be someone who will appeal to both you and your partner. Seeing a therapist is a big decision, and you want to find the right person—someone you can trust with your most important relationship in life.
Criteria For Choosing A Relationship Therapist
The therapist needs to be likeable and easy to talk to, but most of all, he or she needs to be competent. For most couples, relationship counseling is a last resort—and it needs to work to save your family. That’s why it is so important to make an informed decision.
First, you want to see someone who is licensed:
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
- Licensed Psychologist (LP)
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
Just know that licensing requirements do vary by state.
Second, be sure your therapist has experience working with couples; there are many therapists who are trained on individual therapy techniques and try to use them on couples, and they simply don’t work. This usually results in one of the partners being labeled as the one with “the problem”.
Instead, the therapist must work on the couple as a “whole system”. A trained couples therapist knows that you are reacting to each others’ words, thoughts and actions, and will handle the therapy sessions that way to determine what exactly is creating the conflict in your relationship.
Interview Your Therapist
It is perfectly acceptable for you to interview marriage counselors to find the right person. In our view, the relationship therapist is there to guide you through emotionally painful experiences that many couples go through on the course to saving or improving their marriage. The therapist should guide you through hurt feelings and other emotions like paranoia, anger and depression.
When these emotions are inevitably triggered during the sessions, the therapist does damage control by using training and skill to effectively treat these emotional reactions. Just remember that a good counselor will calm both of you down and reassure you that you can work through emotional reactions—they do not represent an impasse in the relationship.
A good therapist will encourage couples. After all, discouraging feelings are definitely a part of your troubles–and they feed on each other. When one partner is discouraged, the other one quickly follows. Perhaps you feel that time is wasted working on the relationship, but if you’re looking to hire a therapist, it means you haven’t given up.
One of the main jobs of a therapist is to find creative solutions to your problems when you cannot. Perhaps you are too close to the situation, or too many emotions are interfering with solving your marital problems. There is no one-size-fits-all solution either; too often, the solutions that will work for you are unique to the circumstances in your relationship.
A professional therapist is trained on many strategies, and the strategies he or she recommends to you should make sense to you. The suggested strategies should make you feel that your problems will soon be resolved.
In summary, your counselor should:
- Help you with painful emotional reactions
- Motivate you to work on your relationship
- Encourage you through the process
- Suggest strategies
- Help you develop your own strategies
Reading this has hopefully helped you decide whether you need a professional relationship therapist. Perhaps you’re reading it because you’ve just experienced another hurtful issue with your partner. Just remember—if you could handle your own emotions and your partner’s, and come up with your own strategy and solutions, you don’t really need a therapist, right?
But most couples cannot work through these issues by themselves, and you’ve likely hit a relationship roadblock. We encourage you to find a professional therapist to help you as a couple. These problems are too important to let linger. Something has to change, so put your trust in a professional today.