How to find the right couples therapist

It’s unfortunate, the frequency with which one of my client’s tells me they had a bad experience with a couples therapist. It takes a lot of courage to go to couples therapy and by the time most couples decide to go to therapy they are at a point of desperation, they just want the relationship to get better.

Finding a couples therapist that matches your needs takes a bit of work. First, if you were hoping to use your insurance for couples therapy, most insurance plans will not cover a couples therapy session. This is because in order to use your insurance the service has to be medically necessary. Insurance does not view your relationship as a medically necessary issue to cover. For this reason alone I suggest that people do not call their insurance companies for a list of referrals to therapists.

Before calling any therapist take a moment and think about what you hope to get from going to couples therapy. Do you want to learn how to work through conflict? Are you feeling emotionally disconnected from your partner? Is your relationship recovering from an affair or breach of trust? Get clear on your needs before calling.

Next, decide what type of therapist you are looking for. There are 2 main schools of couples therapy (there are plenty more but in general therapists tend to fall into one of these two) Gottman Couples Therapy and Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. The way I think about Gottman is that it is skills based and focuses on helping couples to improve communication, learn skills, build friendship, trust and respect. Emotionally focused couples therapy focuses on attachment wounds and helping couples to heal and connect with their partner. Both are great, both have their merits, its just a matter of which one is a better fit for your needs. Click here to read a blog I wrote on the differences between Gottman and Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy.

To find a therapist there are a lot of great search directories out there. One of my favorites is Therapy Den. One of the reasons that I like them is because they give back. They take a portion of the fees that therapist’s pay to be listed on their site and they donate it to organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the Trevor Project. One of the largest therapist directories out there is Psychology Today. This is a great site to use if you want to try and use your insurance as it lets you filter out your options by insurance companies. However you can also do this on Therapy Den. If you are interested in a Gottman trained therapist, the Gottman Referral Network will help you find a therapist that is trained in the Gottman Method.

When you’re ready, start calling or emailing therapists and set up a phone consultation. Most therapists will offer a free 15 minute phone consultation to discuss how they work and to answer any questions you might have. When I conduct my phone sessions I reserve a little bit of time to hear what is going on, why you are looking into therapy, I share with you my method (Gottman) and talk about what I see us working on together if you decided to book a session with me. I also save time to answer any questions you might have.

Some Questions To Ask During Your Initial Consultation

  1. Do you have special training in couples therapy? If so, what.

  2. Do you practice Gottman or Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy?

  3. What would we work on in therapy?

  4. I’ve heard that couples therapy can cause an increase in fighting, what should we expect in therapy and what should we do if we find ourselves fighting a lot?

  5. How can you help us?

When you do therapy with me, Gwendolyn Nelson-Terry, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I use Gottman Couples Therapy. I focus on helping couples to rebuild their friendship, enjoy their time together, and I help couples learn valuable communication skills to help them work through conflict in a productive way. If you are interested in Couples Therapy or Individual Relationship Therapy go to the homepage of this website and click on the button at the bottom of the page to schedule your initial consultation.