Choosing a Couples Therapist

When you envision couples therapy, what comes to mind? What do you imagine the couples therapist doing?

Perhaps it's something like this:

The couples therapist tries to identify clear goals, understand where each partner is coming from, and draw out emotions, such as anger and sadness. Perhaps the couples therapist tries to get the partners to describe positive things about each other and prescribe problem solving solutions.

Couples therapy can be an extremely challenging, fraught arena, filled with high conflict, anger, and blaming. If you are anxious about beginning couples therapy with your partner, that anxiety is totally valid. You need someone dependable to both allow you and your partner to explore and get things out and hold the relationship together in a safe space.

There are many therapists who claim to do relational counseling, so how do you know who to rely on to fight for your relationship?

Couples therapy isn't just about capturing what your needs are and finding ways to communicate and listen better, nor is it just about encouraging you and your partner to be nicer to each other.

Couples therapy involves a recognition of and the ability to break down and rewrite interaction patterns, such as the criticism-defend pattern that Stephanie Wallace and I (Jeremiah Gibson) talk about in Episode 2 of Under the Covers. It requires somebody who can challenge you and safely bring you through anxiety-provoking conversations, such as sexuality. Couples therapy evaluates the lessons that you've learned from your lessons by watching their relationships, and choosing what you want to replicate and eliminate. A quality couples therapist balances between improvising with the couple and taking control of the session when needed.

If you're looking for marriage counseling or couples therapy, please ask about the credentials of your therapist. I would argue that a quality couples therapist needs at minimum of two graduate classes or a minimum of 60 CEUs specifically in couples therapy AND a minimum of fifty hours of supervision specifically around couples therapy before you even consider using them. (These estimates were taken from the requirements to become a certified sex therapist.)

The protection of your relationship and the demands of couples therapy itself are far too important to request anything less. Unfortunately, there are many counselors and therapists that advertise themselves as couples therapists who don't come close to meeting these credentials.

Our couples therapists have years of training in couples therapy. Most of us are licensed specifically to practice marriage and family therapy (LMFT), and our license requires us to have much more than the minimum requirements that I suggested above, which means that we have a significant understanding of how relationship dynamics operate and how to help you create positive, long-lasting new interactions. Two of our therapists are certified sex therapists, while two other therapists are in the process of becoming certified. One of our clinicians (Florina Apolinar Claudio) has done doctoral work in relationship counseling, while all of us have received quality supervision in couples therapy.

If you're looking for a couples therapist, we recognize that cost can play a major role in your decision process. Most licensed marriage and family therapists in our area (including our group) do not accept insurance around couples therapy, which can be frustrating if you're looking for an economical option. We encourage you to give our LMFT couples therapists one or two sessions rather than choosing a couples therapist who accepts insurance but may not have the proper qualifications to advertise themselves as a couples therapist, especially if you've been through ineffective individual/couples sessions before. We hope that our quality of services and our combined experience and knowledge about relationships will diminish any hesitations about the price of couples therapy, particularly once you begin to notice changes in the quality of communication between you and your partner. 

For more information, give us a call at 617-750-0183, and we would love to learn more about how we can support your relationship in the best way possible. Feel free also to schedule an appointment online through the Book Online feature.