Friday, April 30, 2010

Finding a relationship therapist

A few weeks ago I highlighted a few strategies for finding a sex therapist. When looking for a relationship therapist, a few adjustments to the strategies are important.

1) What is your Goal?
Before you start, to the best of your ability clarify your goal. While it might be hard to acknowledge, if you know you don’t want to stay in the relationship, be honest and up front for the sanity of everyone.

2) Provide a time commitment.
Many times the individuals in the relationship will start therapy during a rocky period. If either one of the individuals is unsure about the future of the relationship, I ask for a time commitment from both of them to discern and work on the relationship.

3) Finding Referrals
Ask your friends and current therapist for referrals for individual therapy. Not everyone has training in relationship therapy. Questions such as "Who did you see?" or "Who do you recommend?" are helpful.

4) Who is the client?
Remember that the RELATIONSHIP is the client, not the individuals. Most individual therapists will NOT do relationship therapy when working with one person of the relationship. There are appropriate exceptions, so this is not an absolute rule. Check with the therapist.

5) Put everything on the table.
During the intake session, put everything on the table. Whether it is sexual issues, insecurity, jealousy, communication, respect, or whatever, put it on the table. In my work, my 2nd and 3rd session are individual meetings with each individual of the relationship to provide an opportunity to put additional issues on the table that may be too difficult in the first session.

6) Share the secrets.
This is a bit different than #5 simply because there might be things you don’t think are related. If you engage in alternative sexual behaviors, or had a sexual contact outside the relationship, say so. In some cases, external family pressure or fertility issues might be a secret.

7) Be realistic.
I use a juggling metaphor in relationship therapy. When starting relationships therapy, there are three balls to juggle: Person A, Person B, and the Relationship. This means it is more difficult than individual therapy to create change in the relationship.

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