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How to Shop For the Right Couples Therapist

1. Consider what type of specialized training you want the therapist to have. Many therapists say they do “couples therapy” but have no training in doing this work.

  • If you want a specific model of therapy, find that database and search there. For instance, if you know you want Gottman style couples therapy- check out the online Gottman Referral Network. If you know you want a certified sex therapist, check out the American Association of Sexual Educators, Counselors, and Therapists  (AASECT) directory.

  • If you are looking more generally, try sites like PsychologyToday or TherapyDen.

2. Have a consultation call with the potential couples therapist to feel out if you might work well together.

  • Most therapists provide a free consultation phone call or video call, take them up on this

3. Come prepared with questions.

  • Are there specific qualifications you are looking for? Do you have specific scheduling needs? What are the most important qualities you are looking for in a therapist? What specialized training in couples therapy have they had? How much of their clinician work is dedicated to couples therapy?

4. Find a therapist who you don’t need to educate.

  • Are you polyamorous, LGBTQIA+, kinky, or part of any sexually creative group? Therapists cannot be experts on everything. However, it is important to have a couples therapist familiar with your world or have experience working with clients with your identities or interests.

5. Shop around!

  •  Research says that one of the most important parts of successful therapy is the therapeutic relationship. This means the couples therapist needs to feel like a good fit for both partners.

  • Don’t feel rushed into making the decision on the phone. Take time to debrief with your partner and talk through how you both felt about the therapist.

6. Some questions to ask yourself and your partner after the call:

  • Was the therapist interested, present, and engaging?

  • Did you feel listened to?

  • Did the therapist feel judgmental of you, your partner, or your circumstances?

  • Did you feel a connection or have a sense that they “got” you?

  • Do they fit within your budget? Do they meet your scheduling needs? If you need virtual work, do they do telehealth? If you need in-person work, do they work out of an office?

7. If it does not feel like a good fit, ask for referrals.

  • Couples therapists know other couples therapists. They should have a vast network of therapists they can refer you to.

  • Be specific if you are looking for specific qualities, it is okay to name them. The therapist you did the phone consultation with might know the perfect couples therapist to meet your needs.

8. If you begin services, keep checking in with your partner and yourself about whether it continues to feel like a good fit. If something does not feel like the right fit, tell the couples therapist your experience so changes can be made.

9. Couples therapy is hard work but the right couples therapist can make for a healthier, happier, and more vibrant relationship.

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