How to Choose a Couple's Counselor?!

Updated on January 07, 2008
G.F. asks from Rohnert Park, CA
15 answers

I have decided to finally start calling around to find a counselor for my husband and myself. I, however, have not ever gone this route before and have no referrals from family or friends ( no one knows about this ). What type of questons should I ask?! I once saw on Dr. Phil, that you want someone that has a track record of helping couple's stay together as opposed to recommending a divorce. Can I ask if the couselor is married and how long, or is that rendered private info. I want things to work out for my husband and myself. We love each other very much but he has a bad temper, and therefore our communication has been on the fritz for a while. Resentments are building up...

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So What Happened?

Wow! I am again struck by everyone's warmth and compassion! Despite the fact that I don't know any of you, your words of encouragment and support are so appreciated. Just to let you all know I called my work's "healthy lifestyle" program and now have a list of people to call in my area (Rohnert Park, CA). I have a better understanding of the process thanks to all of you. My plan is to call around and just ask a few questions over the phone and hopefully get a feel for the therapist. I will also checkout the websites a few of you recommended. Truly, thank you all for your help. Wish me luck! :0)

More Answers

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M.T.

answers from Sacramento on

G. ~

I was in the same boat about 2 months ago! I found on line this counsler, in Folsom. Greenwood Counsouling Center... Look it up online, great information on their stratigies. She also has a book, it is like $20.00 but really worth it. They are more expensive then I have ever paid, yes I have been in Therpy a few times!!! It is really working, I had some of the problems like you, with resentment. If you actually want the book, I will email it to you,so you dont need to buy it. This lady "Karen" she has been married for 25 years! Great person not to pick sides... I have had problems with that, the last counseler was siding with me 100% of the time, even I saw it.

Well I wish you the best and for sure email me back if you want the book.

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S.D.

answers from Los Angeles on

We like Suzanne Benko, MFT. She takes some insurane which really helps financially. Her website is www.suzannebenkomft.com. She really seems to take both people's perspective into account. Good luck!

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C.A.

answers from Sacramento on

My husband and I are in counseling. I went through his employee assistance program. The person on the phone was a licensed counselor, and I told them the issues we are having and they recommended someone based on that. Luckily, my husband's insurance is covering it %100. Good luck!

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J.L.

answers from San Diego on

Hi G.,

I'm completing my MFT and can give you the names of some good therapists. Rarely will therapists answer questions about themselves but you can ask their professional philosophy regarding staying together vs. divorce. Neenah Amaral is in (I believe) North County and Christine Osterloh is in Hillcrest. I recommend both. If they are unavailable they will both be able to give you additional names and give you some good direction. All the best to you and your family!

Jen

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M.H.

answers from Sacramento on

Hope things are better for you guys and that your husband has gotten help with his anger issues. To find a marriage therapist, it is best to start with what your health insurance covers. If you don't find what you need, go outside the insurance and pay full price. It is perfectly reasonable to ask about the therapist's own marriage status, but know that it does not necessarily indicate that person's competence. Also, marriage counseling is to discover whether the couple is ready to salveage their marriage and how to do that. Sometimes they discover it is not healthy or reasonable to do so, and divorce, and that doesn't mean the counseling was not successful. Hope that makes sense...and good luck.

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C.N.

answers from San Luis Obispo on

Dear G.,

Dr. Phil is right, of course, but it is so hard to get that information about a counselor. You can call the American Medical Association - I am not sure about that 'Association' part, but the telephone book will guide you. They can give you either the information about who to call about Counselors or give you three names of counselors in your area. They can't give any specific information though. I got a wonderful dentist that way.

Also, if you know a minister who can guide you to a counselor, or maybe you know someone who has been in counseling. Otherwise, you can just make an appointment and go for at least one appointment to see if you feel comfortable with him or her. I have been to a lot of different counselors during my lifetime and they have always helped me, some of them were fairly cold, but gave me the guidance that I needed at that point. But I really believe that you need to not settle for one that is so so. you and your husband need a really great one. So I don't know, just keep trying and asking.

You are so right about doing this now, men have a lot of serious issues and they are buried deeply. Our society is not kind to males, that is my opinion anyway. I have been paying attention to men and boys during my almost 76 years on this planet and have developed an empathy for them and their role in our world. You are doing the most loving thing that you could possibly do, and I admire you for doing it early before serious damage has been done to your relationships with each other.

The little girls will appreciate your effort as they grow up too. Dads are extremely important to girls, and of course, boys too. But, I am a girl and I understand that connection as being special with a Dad. Have you ever listen to a child say "Dad" ? It is pronounced in a special way by children from all cultures and races. I just keep my ears open to hear that just to check if I am making this up, and I continue to hear 'Dad' being said in a very special way by all children. You are saving their Dad, and your daughters will love and respect you for it the rest of their lives.
Good Luck, C. N.

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A.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

You can take a look at www.therapistfinder.org - it's the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapist's (CAMFT) listing of licensed MFT's in the state. They answer some frequently asked questions and then you can search in your area. It's always great to get a personal recommendation from someone you trust, but remember too that everyone is different and the most important thing is that you and your husband feel comfortable with the therapist.

As someone else said, a therapist won't give you much of their personal information - but you can certainly get a sense of who they are when you speak with them, and they should be clear about any professional information you ask for (how long they've been practising, if they work with a lot of couples etc). If you've never had counseling before, talk to a few people on the phone and see how you feel, then decide on someone to start. Give it a few sessions before deciding to change therapists. Therapy can be an uncomfortable process and it can take a while to build trust. Ideally, you should come out of your first session with a feeling of hope - that this person can help even though it may not be easy.

There is a specific type of couples therapy that worked wonders for my marriage and many people I know. It's called Imago Relationship Therapy. You can find more information and search for therapists at http://gettingtheloveyouwant.com.

You're very courageous to take this step! Good luck to you and your husband.

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M.D.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi,

My name is M.. I don't know where you live, but my husband and I went to a wonderful person who's philosophy is "let's get to it, so you can go on with your lives," and not "well this will takes at least 12 years..." Her name is Dr. Lisa Selin, and she is in Brentwood, Ca. She is a no-nonsense, just say it, person. I prefer that over someone who wants us to keep coming for the rest of our lives. She WANTS you to stay together...and talk. Kind of like Dr. Phil. Your going to have to get honest if you want to work with me and have this work...kind of thing.

Good luck.

M. Dawson
Married 8 years together 10
4 year old boy

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V.W.

answers from San Francisco on

My only recommendation is not to be afraid to change counselors if you are not happy with the one you picked. My marriage counseling ended up being anger management counseling for my husband and nothing to help "us" - in the end my ex refused to use any of the techniques the therapist was giving him and she finally had to tell him he needed to move out and go to a physiciatric ward for help... He never did...

I only wish I had spoken up - The therapist became so worried about him that the children and I were ignored in the therapy and we have paid the price for that ever since.

Go with your gut!

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T.K.

answers from Las Vegas on

I was in the same boat when my husband and I decided we needed counseling as well. I didn't know anyone who had went to marriage counseling before and I certainly didn't want to just go with someone in the phonebook. We decided to talk to our religious leader to see if he had sent any couples to therapists before and had good results. He was very helpful in recommending a few different ones that he knew were good at helping to keep families together.

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J.F.

answers from Los Angeles on

First of all, I'm sorry for the trouble between you and your husband. Second, I just had my first counseling session 2 weeks ago, for a little bit different reason, but none the same, its family counseling. I contacted my insurance company and they gave me a couple of people in my area and gave me the option to choose to I felt comfortable with. I got lucky the first time around, the Dr. I chose is really good. One thing you will need to know is, you have to be absolutely honest with him/her, if you keep the truth from them, they won't really be able to help. Anyway, I'm not sure what city you are in, but Dr. Janine Murray is in Riverside and her number is ###-###-####. Good Luck
J.

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E.W.

answers from San Francisco on

My husband and I are in counceling now and although I am not sure where you live, we are in Fremont and I would HIGHLY recommend her. She is very warm, honest, funny and helpfull. Her approach is to simply give us the tools that we need to stay together while guiding us. Message me if you would like her number.

Marriages are hard, especially where there are issues. Regardless, I hope that you guys do take this step! I know first hand how much it changes a relationship and why waste time being unhappy!!

Good luck!

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S.V.

answers from Los Angeles on

The only way to answer all of your questions is to ask them in person when speaking to either a therapist or hi/her receptionist. You need to get started ASAP. Don't think about what needs to be done, just do it. You can ask your medical doctor to recommned counseling either through your provider or outside your provider and you may specify male over female, married with children or not and they will try to accomidate you as much as possible. The purpose is to have a safe and comfortable environment for both to open up, accept fault and make a change. Good Luck.

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C.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi G.,
!st, let me say how sorry I am that you have to go through this. also I think its a great step that you guys are considering getting a marriage counselor.
I would be curious to hearing some of the responses you get on this topic. Also do you happen to live in the east bay? I will be shopping for one myself for my husband & I. If you get a great referral for a therapist, can you email me.
Thank you
KS
[email protected]____.com

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L.P.

answers from Sacramento on

I know you don't know me but I did answer your last request, and I must say " I am so proud of you". It may not mean anything but I thought about you in the last week and I was so hoping that you would follow thru and make an appt with someone. You obviously love your husband very much to go out on a limb and ask for help! Good Luck to you!!!! I will leave you with my two favorite quotes, I think they both apply....."Everyday is a new opportunity for a happy ending" and "When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on"...God Bless

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