If you are considering a divorce or separation, it’s not an understatement to say that it will be a stressful time. Often, separating parties find it helpful in many ways to seek help from a therapist during this difficult life transition, both for their mental health and for guiding them through the major decisions of their divorce.
However, finding the right therapist can sometimes be easier said than done. Even for people who currently see a therapist, some may find that their mental health provider is not experienced in counseling on their specific situation. With that in mind, how can you find the right family therapist (or “divorce therapist”) to help you?
Ask family and friends for recommendations
Your support system is a great place to start. If a friend of yours found a certain counselor helpful, it’s likely that you may as well. If you know someone who has had a divorce, their recommendations may become especially helpful to you. In particular, find members of your network who have been to someone for couple’s counseling or marriage counseling and liked them. While all therapists should be qualified to guide you through a general divorce, there are many different styles of counseling, some of which may not work for you. A glowing recommendation from a friend or family member who sought counseling for their relationship will assure your therapist has experience with family and relationship issues, conflict resolution, and can look at all sides of an issue with an unbiased eye.
Check with your Human Resources Department
Depending on where you work, there may be employee assistance programs that can help you get started. Whether they can give you direct referrals or provide you with resources for locating therapists, it’s not uncommon to find a good fit for you through your company’s HR department. If you work for a small company without an HR department, your health insurance provider may also be able to get you connected.
Contact organizations that are connected to you, like your church or support group
The communities you’re already apart of very likely have recommendations for you, especially if they regularly focus on those going through hardship. While those in community leadership positions do frequently engage in some form of counseling with their community members, they are often not equipped to talk at length about the specific issues that may be impacting you in a separation or divorce as a therapist could. Talk to the leaders at your place of worship, support group, or other support organizations to see if they can point you in the right direction of someone who can help.
Choosing a Professional
Once you have some names, do your research. Look at the professional’s website. Inquire if they are accepting new patients. Ask about virtual visits. Call and schedule an appointment. When talking with a potential therapist, ask yourself: Do I feel comfortable talking to this person? What is their experience? Can I open up to this person? Can I relate to this person? Does their age or gender matter?
Communication is an essential key of therapy. You have got to be assured that you can tell this professional many things, perhaps things that are very private and painful. Be sure you feel at ease with the therapist.
Other factors to consider: their fees; their schedule and availability; their experience; and their credentials. Ask about them about their experience and professional associations.
Be sure you know the ABC’s of therapist credentials.
LCSW – Licensed Clinical Social Worker
LMFT – Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
LCDC – Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor
LPC – Licensed Professional Counselor
LMHC – Licensed Mental Health Counselor
MD – Doctor of Medicine
NCC – National Certified Counselor
MC – Marriage Counseling
If you and your spouse need marriage counseling, you may consider all the factors listed above. But, there are some fundamental differences to consider with couple’s therapy vs seeing an individual therapist for divorce. Much individual therapy is focused on one’s world view. In couples therapy the focus should be on the relationship’s issues and struggles. In marriage therapy, there is usually a lot of focus on communication between the parties.
The marriage counselor should be highly experienced in working with couples. According to experts, at least 30% of their work should be with couples. The counselor should be neutral and unbiased. If one spouse thinks the counselor is biased, that spouse is usually not going to have any success in the sessions. The counselor should be able to manage the conflict with the parties while they are in session. Thus, who makes a great therapist for you as a person-that person should not be your therapist for your and your spouse. Be sure to ask about how long the therapist recommends seeking help and treatment. There are usually no quick fixes. Both spouses need to be aware of the time commitment and understand what will be required.
Life can be hard, and marriage can be challenging. It is ok to seek help from trained, qualified professionals to help you through the difficult times. If you are seeking a referral in the NC Triangle, contact us via our contact form or by phone.