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How To Choose Your Marriage Therapist Wisely in New York City

When your marriage is going through a rocky time, and you have tried to navigate it on your own and there is no appreciable progress, maybe it’s time to consider getting professional help. However, there are so many marriage therapists in New York City. How do you navigate this and pick the right therapist for you? How do you even know what kind of a therapist is right for you? Therapy also is quite expensive unless you are lucky to find someone who takes your insurance who is also good.

Here is some advice on how to choose a Marriage Counselor in NYC:

Ask Friends

Some couples will ask their friends who have been in marriage counseling. If you go that route, make sure you ask specific questions, such as how did this help you, what happens in the sessions, why are they working with this particular therapist?

If you don’t want to ask friends because maybe you don’t want them to know you are having trouble, then you have some work to do. Online, you can find a lot of helpful information about a therapist.

Understand The Approaches to Therapy & Find The Right Match

Familiarize yourself with different approaches to couples therapy. There are a number of schools of thought. They are very different and work with different personality types.

Gottman Method

One popular method is the Gottman Method, developed by John Gottman who was a mathematician originally but had an interest in what makes a relationship work. The Gottman method is based on 7 principles of what works and 4 toxic components that ruin relationships. According to John Gottman, conflict is an expected part of every relationship as there are two different people. Therapy is about helping a couple learn and practice with the guidance of a therapist’s tools that help achieve a better relationship. A therapist can figure out stumbling blocks in moments of conflict and how to change your responses. It is important for you as a client that you feel your therapist understands your couple dynamic and that the tools he or she is implementing make sense for you.

An important book to take a look at is “Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work”, by John Gottman.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)

Another popular approach, which I use is Emotionally Focused Therapy or EFT. This model assumes that emotions guide all of our behaviors. In therapy, clients learn to make sense of what their emotions are telling them, identify goals, needs or concerns, that is, organizing them and understanding each issue clearly. Then, one examines the action tendencies to cope with them.

The goal of EFT is to create a secure attachment between partners. This is an experiential model, and a lot of actual change happens in the sessions. Partners, after becoming more aware of their emotions, and how these emotions show up in their relationship are able to communicate in language of emotion and vulnerability rather than from an angry, critical place which escalates conflict.

A good book to familiarize yourself about EFT is by Sue Johnson (the Founder of the concept of EFT), “Hold Me Tight”.

Imago Therapy

Another method is “Imago Therapy.” Imago comes from a Latin word “image” and refers to the “unconscious image of familiar love”. There, oftentimes, is a connection between problems in a romantic relationship and childhood experiences. Core issues of abandonment, criticism, and neglect will show up in adult relationships and will overshadow good parts of the relationship. Through Imago therapy, couples can learn to understand each other’s feelings, allowing them to heal.

To understand better this therapeutic modality, please refer to the book by Imago’s creator Harville Hendrix “Getting the Love you Want: A Guide for Couples”.

Some other things to look for in a Marriage Counselor:

  • Do they have direct experience with the issues you are facing, and if you are in crisis, are they the right fit?
  • What phase of your relationship are you in and do they have experience working with couples in that general stage recently?
  • Is the therapist going to be a good fit for all parties involved who are going to be in therapy?
  • Do you understand the counselor’s approach to therapy and are they the right one?
  • Do I like their communication style?
  • Am I willing to give them a chance to get to know me and our issues?
  • Have a I read their reviews and understand their Qualifications to make an informed decision?
  • How do they work (virtual vs. in person; one person at a time vs. couples, together etc.)?
  • How often do you meet?
  • Also ask yourself, am I ready and financially prepared to commit to this investment in my relationship?

Issues a Marriage Counselor can help you with:

You are arguing more and more frequently and the arguments escalate quickly.

You are obviously stuck in a negative cycle, where the same arguments happen and you are both reacting rather than understanding what you and your spouse are experiencing. It is important to be able to understand, with a help of a professional, what is actually going on underneath the reactivity. A good marriage therapist can help identify the stuck points and help you create a positive cycle.

You are struggling with trust issues.

This can be anything from a “little lie” to being caught in an inappropriate relationship with someone else. It is really important to deal with this as soon as possible.  Marriage counseling can be immensely helpful in creating a safer space to be honest and repair or begin to heal whatever the issues are as well as understand the underlying issues.

You are not on the same page about finances, parenting, in laws.

Most couples do not see eye to eye in at least one of these areas. Over time, these disagreements erode connection and loving feelings couples have for each other. A marriage counselor will help you find a way to talk about these issues in a way that will lead to understanding and empathy rather than anger and disconnect.

What You Really Want From Your Marriage Counselor:

What you want from a marriage counselor in New York City is someone who understands what your dynamic is, who is active in the sessions, who is impartial, and has clear methodologies they will use to help you improve your relationships.

I hope this has helped you when you are looking for the right Marriage Counselor in the New York area.

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