Couples Counselling

So you have decided to go to marriage therapy or couples counselling and now you are wondering how do you know who to choose?  

Here are 3 handy research based tips on how to choose the best counsellor for you.

Tip 1 – Someone you feel comfortable with

Research indicates that about a third of effectiveness in therapy is directly related to how comfortable you feel with your therapist.  Now obviously you haven’t met anyone yet you are just looking online but our comfort levels are determined by our younger brain which is both visual and intuitive – for this reason a picture is often handy as it can give you a feel for a person. 

Since you are coming as a couple it is important to find someone you are both comfortable with (or at least not aversive too).  If one person in the relationship is pretty skeptical about therapy I normally recommend choosing someone who they are most comfortable with.

If Steven feels right for you, you can book him here.

if you want to check out his team you can do that at www.relate.kiwi.nz

Tip 2 – Someone who knows what they are doing

The same research indicated the next third of effectiveness is related to the therapist’s actual competence.  With couples therapy and marriage counselling his is really important as Christensen’s research indicates that untrained couples therapist have about 50% success rate – which is the same as couples trying to figure things out by themselves (also about the same as the divorce rate). 

Expert or specialist marriage counsellors have success rates above 80%. Why such a difference?  It’s fairly simple, most training institutes include no training on how to work with couples or if they do it’s theoretical training on Systems Theory which was developed in the 1950’s.  Now personally I would not want to go see a doctor who was still solely relying on their training from the 1950’s. 

Gottman’s research done in the 1980’s and 1990’s allows therapists to watch couples interactions and look for behaviours that we know predicts divorce with over 90% accuracy.

So you are looking for someone trained in Gottman Method Therapy, Emotionally Focussed Therapy, Imago Relationship Therapy, Psychophysiological Approach to Couple’s Therapy (PACT), Humanistic Existential Approach to Relationship Therapy (HEART), Presence Oriented Relationship Therapy (PORT) or the Developmental Approach to Couples Therapy.  The first 3 are most well known the last 4 have strong integrative elements from the first 3.

Choosing someone without this training is simply a gamble, like getting a plumber to build your house – sure they are a tradie and they know houses.  What they don’t know are the specific strategies shortcut’s and pitfalls a builder does.  The more fragile your relationship the more a specialist is indicated.  Also at a practical level specialist marriage counsellors are normally passionate about the work which leads to the third tip.

Tip 3 – Choose someone who cares

The final third of effectiveness according to Eugene Gendlin is related to the belief that your counsellor or psychotherapist truly cares about you. Effective couples therapy requires you to be vulnerable with your partner and therapist and we simply don’t do this if we don’t feel cared for.  So once you have someone that you feel comfortable with and you know has some training your job in the first session is to get a sense of if they care.

If you feel like Steven might be the counsellor you want to try you can book him online here.

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