One of the best connections a man can have is with his partner. But what do you do when that relationship feels like it isn’t working the way it used to?
Well, if you’re considering couples therapy – kudos to you. You’ve realised there are some issues where it’s best to get help (just as you might call a dentist for a sore tooth, or a plumber for a burst pipe). Having made that choice, you want to ensure your time and money are well spent. So, we’ve put together three tips to help you make the right choice first time.
1. Do we just choose someone who says they do couples therapy?
Don’t be fooled by a well-meaning therapist who lists couples along with ten other things they ‘do’. Look instead for training in a couples therapy method; e.g. Gottman Method Couples Therapy, Emotion-Focussed Couples Therapy, or Prepare/Enrich Relationship Counselling – these methods all require therapists to learn and demonstrate the skills needed for couples therapy.
2. Do we need a psychologist or, say, a person with a doctorate?
It is more important that your therapist be competent in a couples therapy method, rather than whether they are a social worker, counsellor, or psychologist. Training trumps profession.
3. Can we work out if they are a good fit for us before booking?
Before parting with a cent, it’s OK to speak with your potential therapist – most will make a free phone call. Ask anything that may be a concern. How they respond will help you form an opinion about whether you want to share your deepest vulnerabilities with them.
Things to ask:
You are looking for a response that includes what method they use and whether they have stayed up to date with recent training or supervision.
- “Would you say you are a bloke-friendly therapist? I feel worried that you may take sides or that I might go unheard.”
A good couples therapist will respond with empathy to this question, and say they are able to hold both sets of needs in mind without taking sides.
Does what they say sound like what you want in a relationship? If not, it’s OK to try another therapist.
- “Do you work for the relationship to go ahead no matter what?”
A good therapist will give a balanced response – they will say that they are happy to help people stay together as long as both partners are safe and want to be in the relationship.
What are the details on cost, usual duration and structure?
Using these tips, you’ll be in a great position to choose a couples therapist who can actually help you protect and build the connection you want.
About the author
Nahum Kozak is Senior Psychologist and Co-Founder of Lighthouse Relationships; an organisation which focuses on supporting couples through counselling and relationship education. See more at www.lighthouserelationships.com.au