Interviewing A Prospective Counsellor
Last week I suggested that “real men” aren’t afraid to get counselling when their marriage needs it. There was some discussion in the comments about how one finds a good counsellor and what kind of counsellors one should avoid.
Finding the right counsellor is critical. A bad counsellor can make things worse. However, it’s not just about good or bad, there’s also the issue of being a good fit. Personality and approach are factors here, and no counsellor is right for everyone. A counsellor who is a bad fit wastes your time at best and they could put you off counselling and doom your marriage to frustration and possibly divorce.
One issue is gender. Many folks assume counsellors favour the spouse who is the same gender as them. In truth, good counsellors don’t do this. The reality is a female counsellor may be harder on your wife, while a man may be harder on you.
Secular or Christian is a big issue. On the whole Christian counsellors don’t have as much training, which may be a problem. However some have substantial training, and some are naturally skilled regardless of their training. The potential problem with a secular counsellor is advice that conflicts with your beliefs. Some secular counsellors will work with you on your faith, some won’t. I’d avoid those who won’t. To some degree, this question depends on why you’re seeking help. Is it an area where the world and Christianity differ a great deal, or isn’t it?
How a counsellor feels about divorce is another concern. Are they against it always, even if there is abuse? Do they see a very few places where the Bible allows it? Or do they see it as a viable option to almost any marital difficulty?
Looking at the image for this post, there will be times when race is a factor. If the issue is steeped in cultural issues, or there is a cross-cultural problem, it will help a lot to work with someone who can empathise with those things. Along similar lines, there may be very rare cases where age is a factor for similar reasons.
Get Information Then Interview
If you have friends who’ve done counselling, start by asking them who they liked and why. Gather as much information as you can. Many counsellors have a website, and this can help you weed out those who are a bad fit and focus on those who seem like a good fit.
Then ask the prospective counsellor for an interview session. This allows you to ask questions, and find out what they believe, and learn how they operate. It also gives you a chance to interact and see if you and your wife feel comfortable with them. Counsellors know a good fit is important, and most will be more than happy to do this with you.
My suggestion is you agree with your wife ahead of time that you won’t book another session before you leave the interview. Sleep on it, then discuss it together and decide if you both feel good about the counsellor you visited. Don’t feel you have to go with them because of the time and money you have invested. It may take a couple of interviews to find the right person, but it’s worth it to make the effort.