It’s a challenging moment when you first decide to begin couples counseling. You’ve just done an extremely difficult thing by admitting you have some things to work on. You understand that outside help might be necessary. You understandably want to make sure that the person you’re allowing into the intimate inner folds of your relationship is going to do the best job possible. But of course, this is extremely subjective. What is “best” for you and your partner is not necessarily the “best” for someone else. So in today’s post, I’m going to explain how you can find the best possible marriage counseling for you.
But first, what is marriage counseling?
Before we begin talking about how to find the best marriage counseling in New Jersey, it’s important to manage expectations by talking about the role of a marriage therapist and how they can help you with your relationship.
So, marriage counseling takes many forms, depending on what you and your partner need. Generally, it helps people in romantic relationships function at a higher level. There is no threshold for how much or how little you should be suffering in order to attend. In fact, you should NOT wait until you’re on the brink of divorce or breakup to attend. Still, depending on your presenting problems, you might need a specific kind of help.
Here are some types of relationship counseling we provide at Mountainside Counseling Center in New Jersey:
- Premarital counseling— helps couples set a solid foundation for an upcoming commitment such as marriage
- Discernment Counseling— helps couples make the decision of whether they should remain together and work on their marriage, or move toward divorce or separation.
- Gottman Method— a versatile type of couples counseling that values healthy communication and integrates research-based interventions
- Relational Life Therapy— helps people gain the confidence to break free of traditional societal roles to create relationships that work for them
How to Find the Best Marriage Counseling in New Jersey
1. Go beyond Psychology Today as a database
Psychology Today is a fantastic resource for finding excellent therapists. They have a massive database of therapists throughout the entire country, and users can set filters for location, whether they accept particular insurances, specialties related to the problem, religious affiliations, or specialties related to cultures, etc.
However, Psychology Today is quite general, and not the only database out there by a long shot. There are databases that cater specifically to marriage and relationship therapists, which means users are only getting professionals who work with their presenting problems. Some of these databases include:
- National Registry of Marriage Friendly Therapists— this database only includes therapists who work with couples in the United States. Potential clients will still have to filter for their location, but they can rest assured that every professional listed is well-versed in relational issues.
- The Gottman Method Registry— This database lists mental health professionals who are certified in The Gottman Method, a widely recognized method of couples therapy that uses research-based interventions
You also shouldn’t be afraid to ask friends and family for recommendations. There is still a stigma around receiving mental health care, but if you feel comfortable asking someone you trust, you’re doing double the important work by taking care of yourself and busting the stigma.
2. Look for Relationship Training
If you’ve been seeing an individual therapist for a while and you like them, it might be tempting to ask them to be your couples counselor if the need arises as well. They already understand your needs and you’re already comfortable with them However, this is not advisable, as individual and couple counseling are two very different beasts.
Mental health professionals with letters such as LPC or LCSW can certainly become specialists in relational work, and there are a great many wonderful marriage therapists whose foundation is in other types of mental health work such as social work or individual therapy. Still, some couples prefer to know that relational work is the foundation of their training. That is what you’re getting with an MFT, or a marriage and family therapist.
A marriage and family therapist get extensive training in school about how one’s relationships affect their mental state. Additionally, the “client” in the room is the relationship itself for MFTs, not either party in the room. There are certification programs through such institutes as The Gottman or Doherty Relationship Institute which provide similar skills to all types of mental health professionals, so couples can look for those types of training in addition to simply the letters “MFT”
3. Consider the specific issues your relationship is facing.
As stated early on, different relationships will have different needs, and there are many types of marriage therapy that can accommodate them. For example, are you getting married soon? Premarital therapy is likely the right option for you. It is dedicated to helping couples set a solid foundation for their upcoming marriage. If you’re a couple on the brink of divorce, Discernment counseling might be right for you. Or, if you’re in a certain phase of life, such as mid-life where your children have moved out and you’re hoping to strengthen your emotional bond again, you might look for a therapist who specializes in this type of problem.
You also may want to consider how your internal world may play a role in your marriage as well, and look for a therapist who can accommodate those challenges. For example, if you struggle with a particular health concern such as chronic pain, you might want to look for a therapist who is well-versed in how that might affect your marriage.
4. Consider what your insurance will cover
Knowing what you can afford beforehand will save you a lot of headaches and phone calls. Often, your insurance company can provide you with a list of mental health professionals who are in-network.
You will also want to know if your plan includes out-of-network benefits because this will give you more flexibility in who you can use your insurance with. Often, even if a provider is not in-network with your insurance company, your out-of-network benefits will cover a portion of the cost.
At Mountainside Counseling Center, our insurance expert can do the hard work for you and let you know if you’re covered, how much you’ll receive, and what percentage of your deductible has been met.
5. Manage Expectations of Couples Therapy
Part of getting the best marriage counseling in New Jersey is understanding what marriage counseling is, particularly the boundaries of this complicated relationship. As stated up at the top of this article, you’re trusting a professional with some of the most intimate details of your life, and you want to know they’re being handled appropriately. So, how should a therapist engage with you?
For one thing, a therapist should never tell a client what to do, or “give advice.” You are the expert on your own life, and a therapist is simply a collaborator. If your therapist tells you what to do, and you are not comfortable telling them you don’t like what they’re saying, that’s a red flag. Another red flag might be if they don’t explain their modality to you. Therapy should be very goal-oriented. If you’re coming into sessions every week just to “vent” about what’s going on in your relationship, you might feel better in the moment, but your marital problems will persist.
Of course, since every client is different, therapists will make choices based on what they think serves that client best. And since therapists are only human, sometimes they choose incorrectly. As long as they make changes based on your expressed needs, you can still have a fantastic, helpful bond.
We can help your relationship thrive, in couples therapy online in New Jersey or in Mountainside, NJ.
If you’re seeking a trained and qualified professional for your couples’ therapy, NJ based therapists from Mountainside Counseling should be your top choice. See firsthand how you can build a stronger relationship with my targeted methods. Starting marriage counseling at my New Jersey mental health clinic is simple. You don’t have to live with conflict in your relationship forever. When you’re ready to begin, follow these steps:
- Click here to schedule your first appointment.
- Meet with a trained couples therapist in New Jersey who gets it.
- Get your relationship back on track with the right tools for communication and connection.
Other Therapy Services at Mountainside Counseling Center
Here in Mountainside, NJ, we know that you are not a one-dimensional human. That’s why we treat your mental health needs in a comprehensive, individualized way. In addition to online counseling, our therapists provide a range of mindfulness-based therapy services for individuals and couples. We can help you with anxiety treatment, therapy for depression, stress management, premarital counseling, discernment counseling, and therapy for teens. One of our specialties is serving individuals recovering from addiction, the partners of addicts, and the family members and loved ones who are supporting them. We also have more on our blog, regularly updated with relevant information for your life. We look forward to meeting you, soon.