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Can Couples Counseling Help?

Finding the Right Counselor

"I encourage people to see someone who specializes in marriage counseling -- at least 30% of their practice,” Doherty says. “They have seen it all, and they will roll up their sleeves and help you."

Ask your friends, doctors, or clergy for names of counselors they know and recommend. Some hospitals and social service organizations have referral services. Local chapters of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, the National Association of Social Workers, or the American Psychological Association may be able to help, too.

Look for someone who has a background in couples therapy and advanced certification in couples work. Licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs) are likely to have more training as well.

Also look for a therapist who is caring and compassionate to both of you and doesn't take sides. A therapist should keep control of sessions and not allow you to interrupt each other, talk over each other, speak for each other, or have heated exchanges.

McNulty says a good therapist will encourage couples to decide early on whether he or she is a good fit for them, and will offer a referral if not.

Couples counseling is not always covered by health insurance, although it may be if one partner is being treated for a mental health condition such as depression.

If Your Partner Won't Go

If you want to try counseling and your partner doesn't, experts say don't give up.

"Tell them you are worried for the relationship, that you love them and want their help in making it succeed," Doherty says. "You don't have the conversation once. You have it over and over, and you don't take no for an answer."

If all else fails, try therapy alone, McNulty says. The counselor may have ideas about how to change your partner's mind.

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Reviewed on January 08, 2014

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