Before Beginning Marriage Counseling, Ask This Question

There’s an essential question that you need to ask the marriage counselor you and your partner are considering using. The question itself may surprise you, as well as the answer your potential counselor gives.

This is an often-overlooked question that hardly anyone ever discusses. Therapists don’t include it in articles they write about how you can pick a good counselor, so you’re unlikely to read about it. I’ve never heard about the subject being discussed about the popular daytime television shows that delve into a lot of varied subjects.

However the response to this important question could save you time, money, and energy spent using the wrong therapist. It’s a good question for a deciding factor if you narrow your research for any counselor right down to two or three possibilities, and all look fairly equal in education, training, and experience.

What is the question I consider essential that could be the “deciding vote” in selecting a therapist for marriage counseling? Here you go. Ask the possibility counselor(s): “Have you ever took part in extensive personal therapy yourself?”

Then watch the therapist’s reaction and listen carefully to what she or he says. Also pay attention to the emotional tone in the response. Think about the following responses towards the suggested question. My remarks are in italics in the parenthesis:

1. “No, I’ve never had to visit counseling.”

(Never “had” to go? Do you imply that you’re “above” visiting counseling? That only individuals who aren’t as emotionally stable as you are “have” to go? How will you even understand what it’s like to visit a new office and tell a stranger the most intimate information about your lifetime?)

2. “Yes, I went once for many times when my father died.”

(That’s slightly better, but what about all that self-growth work counselors are always advocating other people do? Don’t you take your personal advice?)

3. “No.”

(That’s odd. Why the one-word answer? It’s a logical question to ask. Why would I entrust you with my vulnerability and something as important as my marriage if you have never visited counseling yourself? Why have you not been? Don’t you believe in what you are offering?)

4. “I took part in certain counseling after i took my courses for my degree.”

(You mean you role played with other students in some of your counseling classes–that doesn’t count. You weren’t inside a real counseling situation and were probably focused on what your classmates and professor considered your role-playing. That’s totally different from taking part in therapy to look closely at your own real issues.)

5. “Yes, I’ve. I’ve had several years of intensive personal counseling, and that i still see a counselor when things show up that I have to process. I understand how much courage and commitment it takes to confront personal issues, avoid blaming others, and be responsible for that quality of one’s life.”

(Yes, this is the one! He (or she) has gone through the counseling process himself. He will not be just referring to something he’s never experienced, and he doesn’t sound ashamed that he’s had counseling. Instead, he sounds proud of himself to make that choice. I love he “practices what he preaches” about counseling. He must believe that it helps in some way or he wouldn’t have spent a lot time and money getting counseling himself.)

Are you surprised to understand that many counselors have never took part in counseling as clients and also have never faced their very own individual or relationship issues? They might get their advanced degree and become licensed with out took part in personal growth counseling? It’s shocking to consider that could happen, however it does–quite often.

Imagine about it–would you want to go to a therapist who recommends counseling to others but has never taken her (or his) own advice? Who hasn’t handled her very own personal past and present problems that could impact the recommendations she makes for you? Who doesn’t actually know how vulnerable you feel as a client and just how much courage it requires to create an appointment, sit within the waiting room, and then talk openly to someone you’ve never seen before?

I can unequivocally say that you ought to stay away from counselors who haven’t done their own work in counseling–either in individual counseling, relationship or marriage counseling, or both. There is a stating that you cannot take others any further than you’ve been yourself.

That’s certainly true with regards to counseling. The counselor needs to be very acquainted with the terrain–not from only textbook knowledge but from personal experience, also. He (or she) must also have the ability to help you without getting your issues all tangled up in the own unresolved issues–something personal counseling helps a counselor to do better.

So prior to signing up with a wedding counselor, ask the key question–“Have you ever took part in extensive personal therapy yourself?”–and be sure that the counselor you select knows the advantages of personal counseling first-hand.

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