What to Look for in a Marriage Counselor

Woman and Man on love seatEven the best efforts of couples to work out their marriage problems on their own many times fail miserably.  It can be due to their lack of objectivity or that the problem has escalated beyond the couple’s ability. Sometimes you need the support and motivation that only a Christian marriage counselor can provide.

The purpose of a marriage counselor, from our perspective, is to guide you emotionally, motivationally, and creatively. All of this must be applied from a Spiritual perspective. Without operating from the Spirit of Christ in you, you are doomed to failure no matter how intelligent and workable a program may appear to be.

Emotionally, your marriage counselor will make you aware of the predictable, yet overwhelmingly painful experiences that many couples go through as they try to adjust to each other’s emotional reactions. Hurt feelings are the most common, but depression, anger, panic, paranoia and many others seem to pop up without warning. These emotions distract couples from their goal of creating Spiritual and romantic love, and often sabotage the entire effort.

A good marriage counselor helps couples avoid many of these emotional landmines and he is there for damage control when they’re triggered. He does this by understanding the enormous stress couples are under as they are facing one of their greatest crises. When one or both spouses become emotionally upset, he has the skill to diagnose and treat the emotional reactions effectively. A good counselor knows how to calm the couple down and assure them that their emotional reactions are not a sign of hopeless incompatibility.

Motivationally, your counselor will alert you of the feeling of discouragement that most couples experience. They often feel that any effort to improve their marriage is a waste of time. Over the years, one of our greatest contributions to couples has been encouragement when things looked bleak. Our clients knew that at least their counselor believed that their effort would be successful. Eventually, each spouse would come to believe it too.

Discouragement is contagious. When one spouse is discouraged, the other quickly follows. Encouragement, on the other hand, is often met with skepticism by the other spouse. So it’s easy to be discouraged, and difficult to be encouraged, when you are trying to solve marital problems. A marriage counselor should be there to provide needed encouragement when there’s none other in sight.

Creatively, your counselor will indicate to you the typical inability of couples in marital crisis to create solutions to their problems. Many marital problems require solutions that are unique to certain circumstances. A good marriage counselor is a good strategy resource. While you can, and should, also think of ways to solve your marital problems, a marriage counselor should know how to solve problems like yours. That’s why you came to him in the first place.

This strategy should make sense to you. In fact, your counselor’s strategy should encourage you in the belief that your problems will be over soon. SingleVISION Ministries can document a high rate of success in finding solutions to marriage problems.  Many of our clients had either given up and hired a divorce lawyer before coming for counseling or were already divorced and we were privileged to re-marry them. That was truly a resurrection type of experience.

If you can handle your emotional reactions, provide your own motivation and can think of appropriate strategies, you don’t need a marriage counselor.  In fact, we suggest that you try solving your problem on your own until you hit a roadblock. But if your efforts hit a snag, find a qualified Christian marriage counselor to help you. Marital problems are too dangerous to ignore, and their solutions are too important to overlook.  Call us at 512-454-9779

How to Make Your First Appointment

The phone book is probably one of the most common places to discover where to find marriage counselors. Your physician or minister may also be able make suggestions. But the most reliable sources of referral are people who have already seen a counselor that has successfully guided them to romantic love. Since couples are usually tight-lipped about their marital problems, that kind of referral is usually difficult to obtain. That is one reason we have shown anonymous Client Comments on this site. Perhaps what they report will be encouraging to you.

Begin by calling one counselor at a time, asking the receptionist to let you speak to the counselor you are considering by telephone. There should be no charge for this preliminary interview. You should ask the counselor some of the following questions:

  • Are you a Christian?
  • Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God and relevant for today?
  • How many years have you been a counselor?
  • What is your academic degree?
  • Do you take an active role of communication during each counseling session?
  • Do you use the Scriptures to support your methods and strategies?

You may wish to add other relevant questions. You may also try to let the counselor know what type of marital problem you have. Your issues may be beyond his expertise. More information exchanged between you and your counselor is usually better than less information when making this decision.

Most couples who see us are in a state of crisis. They don’t go to the trouble and expense of marriage counseling for marriage “enrichment.”   They are facing marital disaster!  With that in mind, time is of the essence. You cannot wait weeks for your first appointment. In fact, you should probably be seen the same day you call.  Call us at 512-454-9779

What Is the Cost?

Cost varies widely among marriage counselors. But before we talk about cost, we strongly advise you against counselors that cannot see you soon and often. That rules out most Health MaintenanceOrganizations which are free or low cost because their overworked counselors are usually weeks away from taking new couples, and they tend to schedule follow-up appointments weeks apart. Furthermore, their counselors are not likely to talk to you on the telephone prior to an appointment.

Insurance generally will not pay for marriage counseling unless the counselor finds you or your spouse suffering from a mental disorder. Marriage counseling is covered as treatment for the disorder, but not usually otherwise. If you see a counselor who uses your insurance, you can be almost certain that you’ve been diagnosed to have a mental disorder. It’ll be on your record for years to come and may prevent you from obtaining certain jobs or qualifying for certain types of insurance. Furthermore, if you really do not have a mental disorder, but it’s been diagnosed just to collect insurance, your insurance company may challenge the diagnosis leaving you responsible for the bill. If you’re offered counseling for what your insurance pays with no other cost to you, its illegal. Call your insurance company or your state’s insurance commissioner to report the attempt to commit insurance fraud.

It’s safe to assume that you may need to pay for therapy out of your pocket. So how much do marriage counselors charge?  Rates vary from about $75 to $200 per hour.  The average is about $100.  Since most marriage counselors see couples one session a week for the first three months, you can expect to pay about $1200 in that period of time if it’s at about $100/hr.

To help put the cost of marriage counseling in perspective, there’s nothing you can buy for $1200 that will give you the same quality of life that a healthy marriage provides. If you and your spouse love each other and meet each other’s important emotional needs, you’ll be able to do without many other things and still be happier in the end.  Besides, we have found that people seem to earn more and save more after their marital problems are solved. The money you spend to resolve your marital problems is money well spent.

SingleVISION Ministries has never turned a Christian away because they didn’t have the money for counseling. Our sessions are at least twice as long as other counselors and sometimes three times as long with no added costs to the client. We ask for a $125 donation per session, not per hour.

Unfortunately you will not be able to find many qualified Christian counselors who will be that generous with their services, but if you can repair your marriage through Christian counseling, it will be worth it even at twice our recommended donation rate.

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