How to pick a therapist? - Talk About Marriage
Experiences in Counseling Have you been through professional marriage or relationship counseling? Are you considering it? This section is for topics related to seeing a therapist.

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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-09-2012, 07:33 PM Thread Starter
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How to pick a therapist?

So my wife and I have decided to see a psychologist but not a couples counselor together. She is under the impression that she needs to figure out her own issues first before we can move onto ours, so she suggested we both see a psychologist individually...it can be the same one but doesnt need to be. Here are my questions....

Do I need to find a psychologist or a counselor/therapist?

How do I find one in my area and make sure they are legit?

We eventually want to work on our marriage issues, but I feel her issues are more psychological/medication related, so are there counselors that specialize in ALL of it or are they targeted towards general issues? I just want to make sure we both see the right one that can help us work out our individual problems, then eventually bring us in together and work on our marriage together....where do I start?

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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-10-2012, 10:13 PM
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Re: How to pick a therapist?

A psychologist has a Ph.D., a counselor/therapist may either have a Ph.D. or a Master's degree. As long as they are licensed, then both have been through fairly significant training and are qualified to help you.

Not sure where you live, but you can search the providers on your insurance or a site like Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness + Find a Therapist, where they have a Find a Therapist section. There you can search for the kind of help you are looking for, and PT confirms that the providers listed are licensed to practice before they allow them to advertise on the site.

If your wife is needing medication related treatment, then that will have to involve a psychiatrist -which is an M.D. specializing in mental health issues. As far as dealing with other things, on the PT site, and also on your insurance website, the therapists listed should give some details into what areas they specialize in -marriage counseling, individual, what specific issues they focus on (depression, grief, relationship, etc.). If you can't find this information, then when you call around to providers, ask what they specialize in or tell them what you are needing help with.

One thing to consider is whether you and your wife want to use the same therapist. You could both meet with the same one individually and then come together in couples counseling, or you could see your own individual counselors, and then find a marriage counselor to go to as a couple. It depends on the couple which way they prefer.

Hope that helps. Good luck to the two of you.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-11-2012, 09:20 AM Thread Starter
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Re: How to pick a therapist?

Its difficult because I see many things here, and dont know if there is a one stop shop or if I should see different people along the way. For example....

She is on zoloft which I feel is not right for her, so she does need someone to adjust and find for her the right medication, so that leads me to a psychiatrist.

She has deep psychological issues, from childhood, from our relationship, etc. that I feel are what are hindering our growth as a couple, so she has some things she needs to work out on her own first, which leads me to a psychologist.

Then we have the big over arching picture, which is our marriage. Of course I want her to be healthy individually and on the right medication, but this is ALL to make our marriage work, which makes me lean towards a marriage counselor.

See where my confusion lies? I dont know the right person, or combo of persons for her/us to see, and what order to see them in. I feel we only have one shot at this so it needs to be done correctly.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-14-2012, 07:44 AM
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Re: How to pick a therapist?

Frankly, if your wife is satisfied with either a psychologist or therapist she sees herself, it is helpful for you to see someone by yourself, too. A good therapist, psychologist or otherwise (as previously noted can be found using the PsychologyToday listing in your area), will help you with you, not just talk about your wife. It takes a gifted & rare professional to see each of you alone without inadvertently taking emotional sides.

But, while this is happening, we at our clinic favor that you would both see a trained couples therapist simultaneously, rather than after the individual therapy may be concluded. To find someone in that area, the discipline they are in (e.g., psychology, mental health counseling, pastoral counseling, clinical social work) is actually less meaningful than whether they are trained and experienced in couples work. Some of the better ones have clinical membership in AAMFT.
For that I would suggest that you ask another person you trust for a name--ask your doctor, a close friend, or maybe someone you know has gone to couples counseling. AAMFT also provides a therapist directory of its members by geography, much like Psychology Today's clearinghouse website for therapists in general.

Seeing and individual and a couples counselor each week, or biweekly, will help you reach the issues with more intensity, clarity, and with less skew as to the relationship. While your wife apparently has some of her own struggles, it usually requires both partners to change aspects of themselves or their behaviors to adjust a marriage.


Olsen & Stephens--"Couples' Survival Workbook"
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