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What Makes a Good Couple Therapist?

Updated: Dec 13, 2022

On the fence about choosing couples counselling in Sydney? If so, it’s time to define your priorities. Here’s how to go about your search for an excellent couples therapist.

Related Qualifications

While it goes without saying, seeing a qualified online couples therapist is worth your while. Many counsellors or therapists have a background in psychology, social work or marriage and family therapy, though is not a given. In fact, counsellors in Australia are not subject to legal regulation.

Professional therapists may have a personal connection to psychology or mental health that extends beyond their title. For instance, many counsellors are committed to helping clients because of their experience with marital counselling or transformative care. Ask your therapist about their specific training and personal motivations where appropriate.

Effective Approach

Not only should your therapist fit your needs, but you should also like their modality. For example, does your therapist incorporate specific approaches like PACT therapy? Do they specialise in something relevant to your relationship like co-parenting, infertility or premarital counselling? If you haven’t already, research a few therapists in your area including treatment methods to narrow your search.

It's impossible to know everything about a therapist before having a session, so finding the right one may take some time. Know that it’s perfectly normal to book one or two sessions with a counsellor before discovering they’re not a good fit. Your main priority as a client is to find the care you need.

Good Listener

As obvious as this sounds, your therapist should have great listening skills. Counsellors spend much of their day listening to clients and asking questions where appropriate. With that in mind, your ideal counsellor should be engaged and attentive during the session.

Building trust with your counsellor goes hand in hand with listening skills. Clients are expected to reveal sensitive information about themselves and their relationships to someone outside their circle. Being comfortable with your provider is often the first step so try to find a suitable fit.

Strong Boundaries

Therapists are often pleasant by nature, though you shouldn’t confuse them as friends. In fact, a good therapist should establish healthy boundaries with clients and uphold them throughout treatment. Counsellors should focus their attention on your relationship and avoid sharing theirs with clients. They should also be respectful of time by beginning and ending the session as scheduled.

Clients are also expected to give therapists the same courtesy when it comes to boundaries. You may be tempted to contact your counsellor outside of office hours, though it’s not a reasonable request. If you do have concerns for your counsellor, keep a small journal to keep track for your next appointment.

Clear Communication

Finding a counsellor with clear communication goes a long way toward effective treatment. Not only should they provide praise and encouragement, but counsellors should also let you know if you’re falling short of your goals. You may reach a point where another approach or treatment plan becomes necessary; by then, they should refer you to another therapist.

Couple counsellors require clear communication to keep clients on the same page. They should be able to effectively discuss relationship concerns in a clear, compassionate way with both partners. Counsellors help couples see eye to eye under trying circumstances, so getting this right is a must.

Honest Presentation

People tend to think of therapy as an enigma, though an honest therapist has nothing to hide. For example, most counsellors go into detail about their education, preferred modalities and session expectations. If you have any questions not answered on the website, most therapists will fill you in during the first session.

Getting to know your counsellor also involves posing the right questions as a client. Here are a few to get started:

  • Are you licensed/certified?

  • How many years have you been practising?

  • How much experience do you have with _____ issue?

  • Which approach(es) do you use?

  • Do you offer telehealth appointments?

  • How long do couples usually need to start seeing results?

  • Which services do you offer? (Sessions, couples counselling retreats, etc.)

Recommended Services

Sometimes the best way to find a great couple therapist is by asking for recommendations. Talk to friends, family, co-workers or other community members to see whether they know of a trusted provider. Word of mouth is an excellent strategy whether for couples counselling or other forms of therapy.

If you’re looking for a couple therapist in your area, check out the following resources and registries below:

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for couples therapy in Sydney, there are a few things to keep in mind. Try to find a qualified counsellor with experience in your area of concern. Ask them any questions you may have, including their treatment modality. Last but not least, check in with yourself about how you feel. Therapy is a very personal decision, so trust your intuition when choosing a provider. We wish you all the best


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