Hi Dr. Dan,
I was wondering how to go about finding a good marriage counselor in my area (Media, PA). Are there websites for this purpose?
Thanks so much for your help.
Happy to help. My favorite websites for marital therapists are: The American Association of family therapists www.aamft.org or the American family therapy Academy www.afta.org . The people listed in these websites are all credentialed marital and family therapists. This is important because not all mental health professionals are trained in these therapies and many have only had a couple of courses in it. So it is important to ask any therapist if they have background and training dealing with the problems you bring to their office.
None of these websites, of course, can address whether the therapist is compassionate or technically skilled let alone whether there will be good chemistry between you. If you know anyone that has had marital counseling and has been happy with their therapist, that would be a great first step. If not, call the therapist's nearest you and see if they will chat with you on the phone for a couple of minutes. I think it's unreasonable to expect more than five minutes or so, but any good therapist should give you some of their time on the phone. If not, call the next number on your list.
Questions to ask? Like I said, background dealing with these problems is one. It's fair to ask how long therapy usually takes and whatever financial questions you might have. In addition to getting specific answers, see how it feels to be talking to that person. That will help inform your judgment. If you can afford to do so, schedule a consultation so that you can all see if the three of you can work together.
If so, set out a treatment plan. If there is marital conflict, finding a mutual goal, might be part of the therapy.
There is lots of research about the efficacy of the marital and family therapy. But in my experience, the single most important factor that affects the outcome is dedication to both the work and the relationship. I wish you both the best in this process