How to evaluate marriage counselors
Marriage counseling is a noble profession. Marriage professionals who truly understand marriage can help you realize your dreams of marital happiness. Unfortunately there are at least as many professionals who do not know what they are doing as those who are knowledgeable. The following can help your selection process.
- Set up a meeting session to evaluate a possible counselor-this is your life, remain in control! Regardless of how you came across a counselor it is imperative you know what you are getting into and what is supposed to happen. There is a reason and purpose for counseling. Counseling is to learn from another how to make your marriage a continual joy filled experience. You want to learn what you are doing wrong and what you need to do to accomplish your marital vision. Counseling is money well spent only if you are getting what you pay for. Well intentioned but ineffective counselors can do more harm than good. Your success is dependent on your effort; but only if your effort is properly guided.
- Ask the counselor what their process is in as many ways as you need to understand it. Think about what they tell you after the session-if they cannot clearly spell out a process they probably don't actually have one. Practically all marriages fail simply because the couple does not know the "rules" of marriage. Your counselor should have a defined process of education that they help you understand and follow. If they don't have one you need to assume they cannot be helpful.
- Understand each step of the process they discuss. Ask questions-don't be intimidated, this is practical, not esoteric-you need to understand the process in order to succeed. Ask the following
- What do you believe marriage is-define it...you need to wholeheartedly agree with their definition
- What do you believe is the purpose of marriage...the answer has to be simple to be achievable
- What is the science that underlies your process... understanding and agreeing with what you hear is absolutely critical
- What are the steps we will take towards the goal of a joy filled marriage...don't settle!
- What benefits come with each step and how much time does each step take...definable benefits are a must
- What does the end look like...you want to get on with your lives
- What were we doing wrong...the answer should be an easy one to understand. It is almost always that you took each other for granted and treat each other poorly
If there is vagueness it is because they do not understand that marital behavior is scientifically explainable or fixable. You need to find someone who owns it so they can teach you.
My own process is not the only game in town, but it does make perfect sense; that is the criteria. Any process should be understandable. All the dots need to connect. The path to marital joy is scientific and happens because you are thinking and behaving in a way that works.
Don't sign up for therapy. If you need therapy you can get it on your own without dragging your spouse through your personal issues.
Avoid anyone who suggests "getting it all out on the table"...what has brought down your marriage is misbehavior and inconsiderate expectations of each other. Only loving behavior will beget loving behavior. You need to learn the science of marriage in a way that works for you. If someone pressures you to make a second appointment, in any way or for any reason, it is generally a bad sign. Call when you are ready to begin.
If someone tells you that you need therapy to have a good marriage they are probably wrong, unless you have serious issues like anger, depression, addictions or some other personal challenge. If that is the case you need to get personal help.
Think of marriage as a computer or some other mechanical thing that you need to understand in order to get the most out of it. It isn't your fault you got married without reading the manual and now you need to be tutored; not fixed.
"Lessons For a Happy Marriage" is a book you can download for free. Many people can have success simply by reading and employing what they find in this marriage manual.