ENTER RELATIONSHIP COUNSELING AT YOUR OWN RISK?

;Working together with help Working together with help

 

(In this article, to avoid confusion, I am using the word “counselor” for counselor and/or therapist.  I am using the word “she” making no implication that the  subject should be female, but to   avoid redundancy and confusion.)

Is your relationship or marriage not in as good a shape as it once was, or as you’d like it to be?   Have you been thinking about pursuing relationship/marriage counseling?  If you are, there are a few pieces of information you’ll do well to consider before making your selection of a relationship counselor.

Counselors are just people.  They have their own people-problems and issues just like everyone else in the world.  When you decide which counselor you want to use, the smart client interviews the counselor before making a major life decision to seek counseling from that particular professional.   Granted, doing this may cost you and your partner an extra visit fee, but believe me, it’s worth it.   If this seems expensive to you, you will each need to ask yourselves two questions,

  1. “Just how much is my relationship worth to me”, and
  2. “Just how long do I want my relationship to last?”  

If you were investing in a new car, my guess is that you would do some serious research and looking around for the perfect car for you.   By the same token, whenever a couple seeks counseling together, they are making one of the most major investments in their future that they will perhaps, ever make. 

Upon entering any form of counseling, there are some extremely important points of which you should be aware.  You both have some serious work ahead of you before you make that phone call to schedule that first appointment.

  • Ask yourself whether or not you know any “couple” who has sought relationship counseling.  Next, ask yourself (and them) whether or not their experience with their counselor culminated in them reaching their personal goals for their relationship.   counseling clipart1<a Also ask them whether or not they personally feel as though their counseling experience benefitted their relationship in a positive and constructive way.
  • If the couple to which I refer answers “yes” to all of the above questions, you are on the right track.  You should consider asking them for their therapist’s name and phone number.
  • Once you know the counselor’s name, look up the counselor’s licensing board to find out whether or not he/she has had any complaints filed against her.  (i.e. If she is a social worker, “Google” the Board of Social Workers; if she is a counselor or other type of therapist, “Google” The Board of Behavior Health and Therapy; if a psychologist, “Google” the Board of Psychology, and so on.)  Licensing boards make this information public so that the public can become aware of the competence (or lack thereof) of the therapist they are considering.

Once you schedule an appointment with the counselor of your choice, attend that first session.  But!  Go to that session prepared!  Take along with you a list of questions you will ask her in this session.  That list should include the following questions, and any other concerns you may have:

  1. Do you determine our counseling goals or do you let us determine them?  (It is YOUR relationship, therefore, it is imperative that you and your partner’s goals for the relationship are respected.)
  2. May we see and share in our counseling plan?  (The methods the counselor uses to help you and your partner achieve your goals, should be conducive to bringing the two of you closer to each other.)
  3. Have other clients who have come to you for relationship help been satisfied with your guidance?  (Look for honesty in her response to this question.  Reality is that whether or not a couple is satisfied with counseling depends largely upon the two peole who are IN the relationship and whether or not they did the work she assigned to them.) 
  4. Will you be seeing us individually or together as a couple?  (The counselor will need to meet with you and your partner both ways – together and separately.  Exactly how many sessions, will depend on the issues you’ve brought to her.  She will usually begin seeing each of you individually so that she can assess and analyze the seriousness of your relationship problems and the best method for assisting you both in resolving your relationsip problems.)

I always find it very interesting that people get-together in a relationship or marriage believing that because they are in-love, everything will just be coming-up-roses!  In fairy tales, this makes sense.  In reality, you have each come from very different and unique family backgrounds.  In each of your families, there were different communication patterns utilized, different problem-solving skills utilized, different issues and manner of resolving them; or like many people, perhaps one of you were brought-up in a dysfunctional family where none of these  skills were developed at all.  Whichever the case for the two of you, chances are that your partner’s family’s way of dealing with everyday kinds of issues was very different from yours!  Like it or not, everyone is a product of their environment (family environment) upon having grown-up and left home!  If you are to deal in reality, you will realize that combining two different backgrounds is seldom an easy task.  Thus, the therapist’s work is cut-out-for-her and so is YOURS!

Understand that when any couple undergoes counseling/therapy together,

  1. They are each making a major commitment to themselves and to each other to do all of the work recommended by the therapist;
  2. Both are making an enormously positive investment in their respective futures;
  3. If doing the work assigned them by the counselor, both people are laying themselves out, wide-open on the table (their emotions, dreams, thoughts, wishes, fears, problems) in front of each other and the counselor.  Therefore, each person is allowing themselves to be totally vulnerable.  THIS IS THE REASON THAT YOU MUST EXERCISE EXTREME CAUTION IN WHOM YOU SELECT TO GUIDE YOU THROUGH THE COUNSELING PROCESS!

Too many times, couples have simply chosen a name out of their telephone directory, and then entrusted their most precious possession, their relationship, to a professional who did not serve them well.  Going into something so serious in any kind of lacqidasicle manner has cost some individuals their relationship! 

Never lose sight of the fact that it is the two of YOU who must live with the outcome of your counseling, and no one else!  Then,  and only then, proceed with caution.

____________________________________

JC is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor who has assisted countless couples over the years, with resolving issues stemming from and surrounding their mood altering substance use related issues.

(Copyright 2014 by JC Fredlund) Copyright 2014 by JC Fredlund (JC Eberhart, Past Pen Name): ©JC Fredlund and JC Fredlund’s Artistry Blog, 1974 – 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to JC Fredlund and the link to http://www.JCFredlund.wordpress.com blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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