Choosing a Qualified Marriage Counselor
What to Look For In Choosing a Qualified Marriage Counselor
- It is important for a marriage counselor to be a good listener. However, the listening must be converted into conveying insight and clarification. The marriage counselor must be able to delineate the contributions each spouse makes to the communication breakdown occurring in the sinking marriage. The couple in distress needs concrete direction and advice as to how to change their problematic modes of relating to one another.
- As children, everyone grows up witnessing how their parents treated one another in the context of their marriage. Such prolonged observation forms the template for our future relationships as we come to model what we saw. Whether there will be mutual respect and affection in our marriages depends on the quality of our early role models. A good therapist needs to explore the past with each spouse and have them question their unquestioned assumptions regarding what an acceptable spouse should be like. For instance, when a wife says, “My father was the strong silent type and my mother always could look up to him as a source of strength,” her criticisms of her husband’s emotional vulnerability becomes well understood.
- Marriage counseling is an opportunity to question gender role assignments and allow for the loosening up and trying on of more effective behaviors. When flexibility is introduced into the relationship, the couple can experiment with behaviors that, although new and strange, create the context for greater intimacy. As an aside, if there was abuse in the family of origin, bringing this to light will help to transform the victim mentality and defensiveness which the traumatized spouse subconsciously brings to the marital relationship.
To summarize, it is important to look for the following when pursuing quality marriage counseling:
- Your marriage counselor should provide direction, advice, and a concrete plan
- Your couples therapist should be exploring and confronting unhealthy behavior and communication patterns absorbed in your family of origin and the parental marital relationship.