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How to Get the Most from Marriage Counseling-From Barrington, Carpentersville and Lake in the Hills

May 18, 2008
Marriage counseling can provide a couple with a solution to some seemingly overwhelming problems and with lifelong benefits.

The first question often is:

1. If I go to counseling, how long do I have to go? Answer: If you are seriously committed to working through your problems, you should expect to go once a week for at least two to five months.

2. Want to locate a good counselor? Start by getting names from any friends who have been thru counseling.

No luck there? Get membership lists from the American Psychological Association, The National Association of Social Workers or the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists of those who practice in your area. All these associations have members who are highly trained in counseling.

If that does not work, then look in the yellow pages under counselors, psychologists, social workers or marriage and family therapists. It can be helpful to find out more about a name you have received by first, getting more information.

Some therapists will agree to a free short five-minute telephone call with a prospective client, while others may not.

If you cannot speak to the counselor prior to making an appointment, leave one or two of your most important questions with the receptionist or on the answering machine and ask her (or him) to call you back with the answers.

3. Another commonly asked question is: Should I consult my minister for counseling? My answer is usually the same: If you want advice based on the counseling and psychological sciences, consult a professional therapist or psychologist.

On the other hand, if you are looking for religious advice, consult your minister, priest or rabbi. This is important because often the advice will be different.

4. If you have narrowed your search down to several therapists but cannot yet decide who to consult, consider making an initial appointment with each.
Experienced professionals will usually cooperate because they know how important it is to have a good match between therapist and client.

Use this appointment to ask your questions and get a sense of the therapists style, personality, and areas of expertise.

Get an understanding of: Whether or not the therapist will always see you together or if you will sometimes be seen separately; the therapists general approach and style, realistic expectations of therapy, goals and the projected number of sessions it will take to achieve them.

6. Notice your intuitive feelings and gut reactions during your appointment. If you feel a rapport and connection with your therapist, you will have a better chance of making meaningful progress.

Client-therapist compatibility is important. A person with a sense of humor generally will not be able to relate well to a humorless therapist. In such cases, you may need to try another counselor with whom you are more compatible.

8. Schedule the first appointment at a time your spouse can attend. If one spouse meets with the therapist before the other, things may not get off to an even start.

Sometimes, the spouse who was unable to attend the initial consultation feels the therapist may be biased because the other spouse got to disclose his/her perspective first.

9. Keep the focus on learning as much as possible about yourself. This approach is less threatening than pointing fingers and making your spouse the bad guy.

After all, ultimately, the only person you can REALLY change is yourself. While you cannot control how your spouse uses the counseling, take advantage of this opportunity to improve yourself. Then you cannot lose!

10. Do the homework exercises your therapist may prescribe and practice and reinforce any positive changes you find yourself making. Remember, change does not occur just by talking; it requires action and actually doing things differently.

You learn by doing, identifying mistakes, correcting them and then re-doing. You are actually practicing new relationship skills. It takes time to replace old habits with new behaviors that have become established and second nature.

10. Write down questions and thoughts you have between counseling sessions and bring them up at your next visit for feedback. Then, before each appointment, review them and discuss the list of questions or comments with the counselor. This will help you not overlook important issues.
About the Author
Dr Shery is in Cary, IL, near Algonquin, Crystal Lake, Marengo and Lake-in-the-Hills. He's an expert psychologist. Call 1 847 516 0899 and make an appt orlearn more about counseling at: http://www.carypsychology.com
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