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How to Choose a Marriage Counselor

A good marital therapist can resolve relationship conflicts potentially avoiding the finality of a divorce. Get tips on how to choose the right type of counseling and what credentials to look for as you begin counseling.


  • Step 1: Discuss the treatment plan. Will the therapist focus on couples counseling or will each family member join a session? How many sessions are needed? Is the therapist experienced with your issues? Verify that you and the therapist have the same goal in mind and agree on what constitutes a healthy relationship.
  • Step 2: Take into account any spiritual concerns and find a counselor who subscribes to the same beliefs. A Catholic therapist, for example, will focus on the relationship as prescribed in the church's tenets. Now you can work on your relationship issues with confidence.
  • FACT: The first divorce on American soil was granted in 1639 by a Puritan court in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Puritans believed divorce to be a civil rather than a religious matter.
  • Step 3: Decide what you and your partner can afford to pay. Find out how much each therapy session costs. Will your health insurance cover it? Does the therapist offer a sliding scale? Where is the office located and what are the office hours? What is the vacation policy? Ask questions to know exactly what services you'll receive.
  • TIP: Get a referral for a reputable therapist from your primary care physician or other trusted source.
  • TIP: If you're in a physically abusive relationship, get away and seek immediate assistance.
  • Step 4: Look at the credentials of potential counselors. Couples counselors' degrees can vary from a Ph.D. to a licensed clinical social worker to a licensed professional counselor. Do you desire a higher academic degree or is your comfort level with the individual more important?
  • Step 5: Scrutinize your relationship. Do you simply want to strengthen your marriage and improve communication? Or is the relationship troubled by deeper issues such as infidelity, addictions or abuse? Counselors may specialize in certain relationship areas, so it's essential to know what you need and what outcome you envision.

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