It’s midnight, you’re tired, you’ve been fighting with your partner or what feels like months. You can’t sleep, and you decide “ENOUGH! We’re doing couples therapy”. You start googling “couple’s therapist” or scrolling Psychology Today to find a provider. Who do you pick? What do the acronyms mean? What will I have to pay? How does this all work???
Finding a therapist can feel like its own battle. I’m here to help you navigate the process of finding a couple’s therapist, and knowing, after the first meeting, that they’re the right fit for you.
Step One: Budget
This is important because you need to know how you’re going to pay for therapy, so you don’t feel the pressure to cancel or deprioritize it. Questions you and your partner should ask each other are:
- Who is responsible for the cost? Will we split it?
- Will we self-pay or use insurance? If so, who’s insurance do we go through?
- What is our copay?
- What is the maximum amount we can afford for weekly sessions?
Step Two: Schedule
There are a lot of therapists out there, and many will have different or limited schedules. If you have a certain time that your available (because of work, kids, etc.) then get together before hand and decide what your availability is, so you can match up with your provider. *I encourage you to be creative here, I’ve seen many clients in their car on a lunch break.
Step Three: Search for Options
You can search for a therapist on different websites, like Psychology Today or Therapist.com. There is also a search tool for most insurances that lets you see your “In Network Providers”. There you’ll find therapists that take your insurance. You can even look on social media. I’ve had clients find me from a TikTok video or Reel I made. You can really get to know a person by looking at their social media presence.
Important Acronyms: License/Professional Info
- LMFT – Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
- LPC/LPCC – Licensed Professional Counselor/Clinical Counselor
- LCSW – Licensed Clinical Social Worker
- CST – Certified Sex Therapist
Important Acronyms: Clinical Terms Common in Couples Therapy:
- CBT – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- EFT – Emotionally Focused Therapy
- DBT – Dialectical Behavior Therapy
- IFS – Internal Family Systems Model
- SFBT – Solution Focused Brief Therapy
Other Therapy Models for Couples
- Gottman Method
- Narrative Family Therapy
- Imago Relationship Therapy
Step Four: Consultation
If the therapist offers, I recommend scheduling with them for a free consultation. If they don’t offer it, ask for it, they may say yes! They may even offer a consultation over the phone or virtually. This consult lets you meet the therapist, ask questions about payment, schedule, and the therapy process. You will also quickly get an idea if they’re right for your situation.
Step Five: Trust Yourself
It can be hard to know if someone is right for you, but in the process of therapy and being vulnerable, trust your gut. Check in with yourself and your partner about how you feel around this person. Honor when something feels off and make space for it to be okay that you didn’t fit. Every therapist I have worked with has an understanding that not every client and therapist connection will work. It is completely normal and appropriate to say, “This isn’t it”.
You and your partner deserve to work with a qualified therapist that is nurturing but will also be direct and get you into the hard areas of couple’s work. Here are some red flags to look out for when working with a new therapist:
- They talk about their own experience or problems.
- They keep secrets (Every couples therapist should have a no secrets policy).
- They avoid conflict and stick to the surface level issues.
- They don’t make space to understand both partners/take sides.
- They don’t maintain safety or boundaries in session (Your sessions aren’t a place for harm or shame) .
- They see one of you for individual therapy and don’t disclose that to the other partner.
- They cancel last minute often or show up late.
- They get defensive when you give feedback or push back on therapy challenges.
The biggest red flag is when you don’t feel safe enough to be vulnerable in session or open up with them. 90% of the healing is done within the relationship between client and therapist. If you can’t “go there” then it may be a sign that they aren’t right for you to engage in couples work.
If you’re in New Mexico and looking for a couples therapist I’m scheduling new clients today! Reach out – and if we aren’t the right fit I’ll connect you with some other great couples therapists.