• How To Find A Good Marriage Counselor

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    “Marriage Counselor Near Me” – How To Find A Good Marriage Counselor

    When you search online using keywords like “marriage counseling near me” and “couples counseling Denver,” you may find…

    Counselors and agencies are trained in different modalities and frameworks.

    For example, you may see marriage counselors trained in Emotional Focused Therapy (EFT) and currently that’s one of the most popular.

    Other common modalities are:

    Gottman Method

    Relational Life Therapy (RLT)

    Pyschobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT)

    There are others. But I can speak briefly about all the above.

    But before I do, let me share the most important characteristic in finding a good marriage counselor.

    ➡️ Experience. ⬅️

    As a couples therapist, I know working with couples is so much different than meeting with someone individually. If someone is primarily an individual therapist and says, “Sure I can meet with you two,” but doesn’t have much experience, I would be cautious.

    For example, years ago my ex-wife and I’s first marriage counseling experience was with someone who had little experience meeting with couples, although I assume they were a great individual therapist, it was a s@it show…

    I won’t continue to delve into that now… If you want to know more about that experience, check out this episode, from my Podcast.

    Years of focused experience working with couples in addition to ongoing training and supervision is the most important thing to look for.

    This means the marriage counselor has seen a lot and knows the most common patterns and cycles couples spin into. And with this comes a framework (from their chosen modality described below), that helps them guide couples in disharmony back into connection.

    It also helps them stay calm if one or both partners happen to be emotionally triggered.

    So let’s talk about those frameworks and modalities.

    EFT is evidence-based, and its basic premise is that emotions and vulnerabilities are a way we connect and “feel-felt.” I agree with that concept 100%.

    The framework also helps couples understand the attachment dance underneath their negative cycles. (To know more about your attachment style, take the relationship quiz in the footer below)…

    The Gottman-method was developed through years of research and observation. As a result, it gives couples proven tools that helps them be a “master couple” and not a “disaster.” I use a lot of Gottman techniques in my own practice and I love the concept of the “Magic six hours.”

    RLT. I’ll be real, this one is near and dear to my heart. I’m certified in this method, and I love it. It helps couples learn how to be vulnerable and helps them understand their negative patterns called the “Stance, Stance, Dance.” RLT is also teaches couples relationship tools.

    However, it does differentiate from the Gottman-method not only in vernacular, but it focuses on family of origin and trauma to help clients know where their stances may have come from.

    Then it helps clients have a different relationship with those parts that were “adaptive then,” and could care less about relationship tools.

    In the RLT vernacular, the part of us that doesn’t want to use such tools is called our “adaptive child,” and the part that wants to use the tools and cares about the relationship is the “wise adult.”

    PACT like EFT, has a lot of focus on attachment and attachment styles. In the attachment quiz below, I use the founder’s terms called the “Island, Anchor, and Wave.”

    PACT also helps clients become aware of how they can trigger an interaction that may have started as calm and has moved to being emotionally charged.

    It also incorporates neuroscience for understanding that humans are wired to perceive threat, and when we do, it’s very difficult to be relational.

    Like RLT, PACT works with the different parts of the psyche. Whereas RLT identifies the “adaptive child and wise adult” parts of us, PACT calls this our brain’s “primitives and ambassadors.”

    If you haven’t guessed, we want to stay more in our wise adult and ambassador parts of us…

    I hope these methods help you understand frameworks couples counselors may have.

    I look at it like this:

    There are different paths up the mountain, but the view from the top is the same – a healthy relationship.

    You should also consider asking friends and family members who have experience going to couples therapy.

    But the most important thing for finding a good marriage counselor is to identify if they have significant experience working with couples and a framework or modality they are confident with.

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