Marriage counseling usually involves the couple and a counselor who may be a psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor or member of the clergy. The training needed for counselor certification varies from state to state.
Sometimes the counselor may recommend additional sessions with each member of the couple privately or suggest that they attend group sessions with other couples.
Even though they are called “counseling” sessions, spouses do most of the talking. The counselor acts a referee, ensuring each spouse has a chance to air opinions, or can give suggestions on how conflict may be managed. The primary job of a marriage counselor is to help the couple identify the reasons for conflict and learn to manage their problems in healthier ways.
There are no set rules for marriage therapy because every couple and their problems are different, and each therapist has a different approach. Some counselors suggest role-playing; others merely listen. Both husband and wife must be honest during the counseling sessions. The couple and the counselor must have all the facts to understand each point of view and help the couple build a stronger marriage.
Marriage counseling is too important to chance finding a therapist by flipping through the phone book. If you know someone who has undergone therapy, ask if he or she recommends his or her counselor. Don’t worry; all information from counseling sessions is strictly confidential and will never get back to your friend’s ears. Medical offices and hospitals often have counselors on staff or a list of recommended therapists, as do churches and synagogues. Keep looking until you find a therapist whom you both trust, even if it takes a few tries.
The time frame is different for every couple; marriage counseling can last from months to years depending on the severity of the problems involved.