Choosing the Expert Your Relationship Deserves
What makes a therapist a relationship expert?
How can you make sure that you’re hiring the most qualified relationship expert to help you save your marriage?
We can all agree that not all therapists are relationship experts. Moreover, there are those who call themselves relationship experts who are not therapists.
Thus, it is important to be clear about who can offer adequate services to help you.
So, what happens first when your relationship is not going right and you start looking for help? Usually, you search for couples therapy in your area or online. Most likely, you select a therapist via a recommendation. Or, you move through a list provided by Google. In the last few years, I’ve seen more and more therapists offering couples therapy as part of their services.
On one hand, this is a wonderful thing! Why? Because marriage counseling has been proven to save relationships. More and more couples have experienced how marriage counseling can help their relationships.
Yet, the uptick in therapists offering couples therapy can be problematic. Why? That same therapist offering marriage counseling may be seeing clients with other issues. All without you even being aware. All the while, they may be doing so without actually specializing in any of the services they provide.
It’s vital to realize that couples therapy is in demand. As a result, some therapists include it to fill up their caseloads. Often, they do not even have the proper training or experience to actually help.
6 Important Things to Look for in A Relationship Expert
Relationship issues need a relationship expert as much as heart problems need a cardiologist. What makes a therapist a relationship expert is the combination of the following:
1. The type of couples therapy education
Therapists have academic formal education in the field of mental health. But, therapists who are Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) have the most education and training around couples’ work. They’re trained to look at relationships and handle a couple or a family in the therapy room. This is very different from individual therapy.
2. Postgrad training, specifically working with couples
Therapists who work with couples need specific education. This education and certifications in relationship therapy are essential. This is how formal specialization in a specific field occurs. Credentialed training includes learning, practicing, and supervision. This ensures that the therapist knows how to practice the approach in a competent way.
3. Experience in the field of marriage counseling
The more experienced the therapist, the better. The more experience with couples, the better. A licensed therapist that is new has about 2000 hours of experience in the field of therapy. This is usually gained in 2+ years. But, it’s important to know that most newly licensed therapists do not specialize in one area.
A therapist who is a relationship expert has thousands upon thousands of frontal hours with couples, over the years. For instance, our experts have 10+ years of experience with thousands of hours of couples therapy experience under their belt.
4. Approach to couples therapy
A relationship expert has an approach they will share with couples. Together, they will discuss how they see the relationship changing. Having an approach with which a relationship expert conceptualizes cases is essential. These approaches are much more beneficial as opposed to “going with the flow.”
What does this look like? Your relationship expert explains what they understand about your case. Then, they identify the patterns and offer a clear path of treatment. A general therapist would most likely resort to understanding as you go. They do not know how to handle or identify relationship issues from the outset.
5. Structure and tools
Structure and tools make couples therapy useful. Luckily, a lot of research has occurred in couples therapy. As a result, a few methods have come up with tools for assessment and creating lasting change. Some tools we use in our Florida-based practice are developed by The Gottman Institute.
Yet, I don’t believe it is enough to only know the tools or the methods. It is vital that your therapist has a structure or a roadmap they can use to guide you. It must have a beginning and an end. That roadmap offers assessments and practices they can use to teach you and that you can put in place. This is the difference between what I call Venting Sessions and Structured Sessions.
Venting sessions allow couples to, in short, complain about one another. You go on and on while the therapist attempts to referee. They may offer advice here and there. But, the session ends when the time is up; not when your problem reaches a resolution. As a result, you feel worse, as if you opened an emotional wound. You and your partner “bleed” all the way home, sometimes, for days after.
A therapist is a relationship expert when they not only offer you a safe space to vent, but a space to learn and change. Our relationship experts are all trained to allow some venting. But, our team also offers tools to discuss and resolve issues within the session. It is very rare for us to end a session with any open emotional wounds.
6. Success rate of their couples in therapy
Did you know therapists are bound by many laws to protect their clients and the quality of work they provide? This prevents us from making promises or advertising success rates. But, this does not prevent us from being able to assess ourselves and our work.
Relationship experts have a track record of success with couples. They have enough experience and self-evaluation tools to share an approximate level of success. Your expert might say “I’ve worked with hundreds of couples in the aftermath of infidelity in the past 10 years. I have been able to help most of them heal and regain trust”. In our practice, we also provide an estimate of the number of hours it may take to reach a couple’s goals.
So, how can you learn all this about a couples therapist?
First, review their website. See what they say their specialties are. Websites that show a long list of specialties may do so because they represent a group of therapists. In that case, you will have to look at their specialty pages. Or sort through their team members to understand more about their offerings and qualifications.
Second, call or schedule a consultation to find out more. Speak to at least three different therapists to find your relationship expert. Choose the best professional to help your relationship. Think of it as if you were choosing the best surgeon to operate on you or your family member.
Last but not least, make an appointment and use it to see whether your therapist is a relationship expert. Do so by paying attention to the above suggestions, primarily suggestions 4 and 5. This may take more than one session. But, you know you have an actual relationship expert therapist if you feel they help cultivate change, provide tools, and leave you feeling better than when you entered.
Your relationship deserves the best help it can get. With the info above, you can seek out and benefit from the tools a couples therapist can offer from our Florida-based therapy practice. Together, you can work to meet your needs with the support of couples therapy.
Do you and your partner need a guide? Please schedule a free consultation with a couples therapist from our team. We can determine exactly how to help you create a loving, trusting relationship. To start your therapy journey, please follow these simple steps:
Other Services Offered by Idit Sharoni’s Relationship Experts
Our team offers a variety of services to support the health of your relationship because our clinicians truly are relationship experts. Our Miami FL-based counseling practice is proud to offer a variety of couples therapy services including affair counseling, communication counseling, and online couples therapy for residents of Florida. Additionally, we offer some support around affair recovery to people who may live outside of Florida through our infidelity recovery program, or visit our relationship podcast. So, regardless of where you live, if you’re looking for more for helpful information to help you improve your relationship please check out those resources.