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Couples Counseling: 3 Tips for finding the best therapist

Were you aware it typically takes 6 years for people to finally seek out couples therapy? Yes, this is the facts. Most couples get caught up in a negative cycle; it’s exhausting, they want it to stop, therapy is suggested, and then it is quickly forgotten about when interactions improve. Couples get caught up in the daily grind, they think they can read another book or try a new approach. They make active efforts with little to no progress. The more the years go by, the more problems arise, and the more wounds inflicted. Does this sound familiar? 

Seeking counseling is a hefty task, especially for couples living in Spokane. The counseling resources are limited, the expertise of therapists is lacking, and many places have a waiting list. Finding the best-fit therapist for couples counseling requires work. You are like everyone else not really knowing the most critical things for finding the best fit therapist, so read on!  Most people don’t know what to look for and book a therapist simply because it is in their insurance network or the therapist answered the phone. This article is to help you understand why it is critical to find the best fit therapist for your needs, and what to look for.

Let’s call out the obvious – couples counseling is not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. Psychotherapists come with various backgrounds, education, trainings, and licensures. They have different personalities, strategies for handling conflict, and life experiences to draw from. Not only is there a difference in the educational side, but they all come with different treatment strategies and “schools of thought” (we call this theoretical orientation). All therapists can say they have training in couples counseling, but what does that really mean? 

Therapists with a Master’s Degree and above, all learn how to work with couples in school. They have a foundation but don’t get an in-depth roadmap of how to work with couples and the unique issues that arise. That is where their internships and associate positions help them learn the skills necessary.  At Spokane Counseling Hub, we have done extensive training in couples counseling, so much so that the owner, Jennine Estes Powell, is an expert in working with High-Conflict Couples and trains therapists worldwide on how to specifically work with couples in distress. 

Here is what you should look out for when searching for the best-fit therapist:

#1: Education and Training Matters the MOST 

You don’t want to simply put a bandaid on your relationship by using “I” statements and avoid getting to the root of the issues. When searching for the right fit therapist for your relationship needs, education and in-depth training matter the most. Do they simply show they have some couples counseling trainings, or do they really know what they are talking about? 

Since you’re on the hunt for the perfect couples counselor in Spokane, it’s crucial to find one with expertise in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFCT or EFT). Yeah, yeah…we are a bit biased in writing this article. Not because we are trying to convince you to use our therapists, but because history shows it works. Jennine Estes Powell, the owner of Spokane Counseling Hub, first started her therapy journey with a hodgepodge of different theoretical models. She could never hit goals with couples. However, once she began training in EFT, she started hitting goals with couples immediately, and it lasted long-term. EFCT has a roadmap for therapists to help get couples out of the nasty communication ping-pong match that never goes anywhere and creates a positive communication pattern long-term. It is research-based (we love research) and it allows couples to experience corrective emotional experiences in the relationship. 

If you are walking into couples counseling with a history of an affair or a big wound, your therapist should have extensive training on how to handle the ruptures. Fun fact – past issues have not fully repaired fuel current fights, even though both partners “got over it” and “it’s in the past.” Our therapists go through the training Attachment Injury Repair Model (AIRM). 

#2: Schedules and Time Availability Matter

Understanding your specific needs, as well as your partner’s needs around scheduling is key. It can sometimes feel like you are using scotch tape to hold your calendar together. Getting the kids to a soccer game, running errands, and attending social events can be an art form for all involved. Then toss in one more item! More tape will be needed to hold everything together. The scheduling of couples therapy really needs strategic.

Believe it or not, the couple’s therapy won’t be all about the positives and great successes in life. We do love celebrating successes, but you’ll be looking at the items that cause the division in the relationship and actively working on ways to prevent and resolve them. You’ll want to make sure you have time before the session to remind one another you are working on improving the relationship and come in as a united front. You’ll also want some time afterward. Don’t rush off to sit in a meeting and shelf your raw emotions. Instead, schedule your appointment during a time that allows you both to connect and debrief after if needed. 

Finding the best time that won’t stretch you too thin or cause more fights will be important to keep in mind. For some people, evenings and weekends are the best times because they can’t seem to get out of work. fitting in a doctor appointment or counseling session during work hours can be tough. Especially when we return to work and get buried in the never-ending emails (sigh, we understand that pain!). For others, mornings or lunchtimes are best. Talk to your partner and find a consistent time that works. 

#3: Insurance or cash-pay, be prepared financially

Money matters. How couples talk about it, manage it, and spend it can be a divider in the relationship. Some psychotherapists take insurance and some do not. This might be one of your sticking points to starting couples therapy. What you may not know about insurance; the insurance companies decide on what the therapists will make per hour and how many sessions you get authorized. It requires the therapist to spend time on billing and tracking down payments, as well as sending over required paperwork.Some insurances pay for couples therapy, and some do not cover it. If you decide to go with a cash-paying provider, you can ask them for a superbill. This is a glorified receipt with codes needed for your insurance. Call your insurance to see if they will reimburse you. You can also ask if the provider offers lower fees or sliding scales. 

A pro-tip: Be prepared to pay cash for the highly skilled therapists. Many therapy practices do not take insurance because the depths of their training and education are worth more than what the insurance can pay. This is especially around highly trained therapists working with relationships, they don’t usually take insurance due to their expertise. 

Now that you read our article about what to look for in a therapist, give yourself a pat on the back. You are doing your homework and researching what is out there. You are fighting for your mental health and for your relationship. Now, make sure you don’t just go with the first therapist who pops up on Google when you type, “best couples counselor near me.” You have to do the work and now you are fully equipped on what to look for in a counselor. 

Better yet, if you feel connected to us, you can schedule an appointment with one of our therapists online. Simply click here, check out the therapists, and find the best time slot that fits your needs. We look forward to working with you!