How do you choose a counselor for your relationship?
You want to know a secret? Actually, it’s pretty much an open secret these days: most therapists don’t enjoy couples counseling. (See the recent New York Times article regarding this revelation below). This may not seem like a shock or a big deal, but the truth of the matter is it is significant, especially if you are searching for a couples or marriage counselor to help your relationship.
Most therapists are trained almost exclusively in one-on-one counseling. That’s where the majority of their supervision and experience has been. They’re trained to diagnose mental and emotional distress and begin a treatment plan for that individual. Counselors are your classic ‘good guys’ (and ‘gals’); the empathetic and accepting therapists who are especially concerned about creating a safe space for you. The problem is, the more passive “uh-huh, uh-huh, hmmm,” type of individual counseling just isn’t effective with couples – and certainly not helpful for a relationship.
This is why most counselors dread couples counseling. Relationships can be messy: the stakes are high and there can be volatility, secrets, triangles, and uncertainty. The following New York Times article describes couples counseling as “piloting a helicopter in the midst of a hurricane.” We don’t think it’s that bad, but for many counselors, couples therapy can be frightening because it’s a tremendous challenge to actually be of help when two strong individuals are colliding.
That’s why you need a ninja! :) Terry Real says it best in the following article when he talks about the best couple’s counselors: “You have to like action. To manage marital combat, a therapist needs to get in there, mix it up with the client, be a ninja. This is intimidating (for many counselors).”
The bottom line is: couples counseling is very different from individual counseling. When looking around, make sure the counselor you choose to assist your relationship has the majority of her or his experience with couples. Make sure their approach is an active one, one in which they get in there with you and aren’t intimidated. Make sure they won’t cause your relationship more harm than good. Make sure you find yourself a ninja!
Read here: the New York Times article entitled, “Does Couples Therapy Work?”
(Well Marriage Center offers both a safe space AND ninja counseling for your relationship. In fact, we specialize in marriage and couples counseling! Read about Our Approach and feel free to ask questions!)