Finding the Right Therapist for You


If you are reading this, you probably know the distress brought on by relationship difficulties. These difficulties are felt in every area of our lives. Divorce rates indicate the growing necessity of effective, high quality couple therapy. Knowing how to find the right couple’s therapist near you can be difficult. A relatively small number of therapists you might contact have undergone proper training in the art of couple therapy. Applying techniques learned for individual therapy to the complexities of a couple’s dynamics can fall far short of what a relationship needs.

Starting couple’s therapy is a significant step towards improving your relationship. So, finding the right therapist for you and your partner is crucial. You might think of this discovery process as the first phase of therapy: the evaluation phase. You want confidence that the therapist’s expertise aligns with your specific needs. Below, I’ve shared a list of what experience has taught me are some of the most important questions to consider asking a therapist you’re considering working with.

Here is a checklist of questions you might ask a potential couple therapist to find out if they’re right for you:

Evaluating Experience and Consultation

Experience and Professional Engagement
“Approximately what percentage of your recent practice is dedicated to working with couples?” And, “do you have a regular consultation process wherein you discuss your work?” These questions aims to assess the therapist’s dedication to couples therapy

Feedback and Evaluation Process
“How do you provide feedback and evaluate progress in therapy?” This question allows couples to understand how the therapist assesses progress and navigates therapeutic milestones. A transparent feedback mechanism is vital for ensuring that therapy remains aligned with the couple’s goals and for making necessary adjustments to the therapeutic approach.

Understanding Therapeutic Approaches

Theoretical Orientation
“What theoretical perspective guides your work with couples?” It is essential that the therapist operates from a solid theoretical foundation, such as Attachment Theory, which is at the heart of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT). The approach a therapist takes should be grounded in solid theory. Also, there should be a structured methodology to effectively address relationship distress.

Assessing Specialized Training

Training and Qualifications
“What specific training in couples therapy have you undertaken?” Exploring their specialized training provides insight into their qualifications and dedication, facilitating the process of finding the right therapist for you. Prospective therapists should be able to describe application of a method of therapy relative to their training. An EFT Couple Therapist can describe their process in a detailed fashion.

“Do you have specific training regarding difficulties related to sexuality?” This is an important question for couples struggling with problems relating to sexuality to ask.

What Will Therapy Look Like?

This might be the most important question about what to expect from therapy: “What are the Contraindications to Couple Therapy?” A prospective therapist should be able to describes situations or conditions where the type of couple’s therapy they do might not be the best choice or should be approached with caution. Common contraindications follow: Severe mental illness and substance use disorders that interfere with participation. Misaligned agendas for therapy. Ongoing affairs that threaten a partner’s sense of security. Also, a risk of violence that prohibits vulnerability. In some cases, addressing the contraindicating issue (such as through individual therapy, addiction treatment, or safety planning) can make couple therapy like EFT a viable option later on.

Expectations for Therapy Duration and Frequency
“What are your expectations for the duration and frequency of therapy sessions?” This question helps set realistic expectations for the therapy process, including how long it might take to see improvements and how often sessions will occur. Therapy is a significant investment. It’s crucial for planning and commitment to the therapeutic journey that you know what to expect.

Strategies for Enhancing Connection Outside Therapy
“What strategies do you recommend for couples to enhance their connection outside of therapy sessions?” A therapist who offers practical tools and exercises for couples to work on between sessions demonstrates a proactive approach to therapy. This can help accelerate progress by encouraging partners to actively engage in their relationship improvement outside the therapeutic setting.

Communication Skills in Therapy

Enhancing Communication Skills
“How do you work to enhance communication skills in your therapy sessions?” Ideally, the therapist’s approach should highlight the importance of trust that a partner is available and responsive. By contrast, a focus on mere communication techniques can interfere with the depth of understanding in the relationship. “I statements” and similar “communication tips” don’t come online readily when intense emotion gets stirred.

Individual Sessions and Therapy Dynamics

Approach to Individual Sessions
“Do you conduct individual sessions with partners?” Generally, therapy should involve both partners, with individual sessions reserved for specific assessment purposes. This approach reflects the therapist’s commitment to treating the relationship as the central client.

Maintaining Impartiality

Ensuring Impartiality
“How do you maintain impartiality in your sessions?” Asking this question probes the therapist’s strategy for navigating complex couple dynamics, ensuring they view the relationship as an interconnected system. I think it’s so important to feel confident about a prospective therapist’s answer to this question. This is because the experience of therapist bias toward one partner is a primary reason clients cite for therapy “failing.”

Emphasizing the Emotional Bond

Focus on Emotional Connection vs. Behavioral Contracts
“How important is the emotional bond versus behavioral contracts in your approach to couple dynamics?” Herein, a therapist who emphasizes strengthening the emotional connection addresses the core issues of relationship distress effectively. Dr. Sue Johnson’s insight, “about the bond, not a bargain,” poignantly captures the essence of couple therapy.

Summary: Finding the Right Therapist for You

Selecting the right couple therapist is a nuanced process that requires careful consideration and detailed questions. These inquiries are designed to provide deep insights into a therapist’s approach, philosophy, and their suitability for navigating the complexities of your relationship. We invite your questions and offer a no-cost, confidential consultation, aiding you in the journey of finding the right therapist for you and your partner. This thoughtful approach ensures that you embark on therapy with a professional who can truly support and guide you through the challenges and opportunities of strengthening your relationship.

Cornelius Sheehan, LCSW is an experienced couple's therapist in Reno, NV and writes about helping you find the right therapist and get the most out of therapy.

Should we do Premarital Counseling?

Should we do Premarital Counseling? engaged couple in reno nv

Your relationship holds wonderful promise for a lifelong responsive connection. Yet, you find yourselves trapped in frequent, seemingly trivial arguments. This trend can be both worrisome and somewhat frightening, casting a shadow over the bright hope that defines you as a couple. But remember, you are not alone. The right premarital counseling can offer a lifeline. Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT) stands as a valuable, short-term investment for your future, and we offer this type of premarital counseling in Reno, NV.

Established by Dr. Sue Johnson, EFT operates firmly on the foundations of attachment theory. This theory suggests that humans naturally seek to establish potent emotional bonds with others. EFT interprets relationship distress as a reaction to perceived threats to these essential connections.

In essence, when couples clash over various issues – whether finances, jealousy, or intimacy – these conflicts often originate from a protest against a perceived disconnect. This happens when we feel our partner is not available or attuned to our fundamental needs for support and closeness, resulting in distress and potentially leading to feelings of anxiety, numbness, or estrangement.

EFT strives to pinpoint and break the negative interaction cycles that prevent true connection. It aids in establishing a fresh cycle of interaction where both partners are seen as available and responsive. This renewed, stable attachment fosters not only effective communication but also cultivates adaptability in problem-solving, even during conflicts. Call us to learn more about EFT premarital counseling in Reno.