7 Must-Have Qualities to Look for in a Marriage Counselor

Vivian Bricker

Contributing Writer
Published May 08, 2024
7 Must-Have Qualities to Look for in a Marriage Counselor

Marriage counseling has been rising in popularity over the course of the past few years because more couples are recognizing how much it can help with their marriages. We often think counseling is only for those who are struggling in their marriage, are facing infidelity, or have gone through a traumatic experience together. While there are many couples who seek out counseling after a major event such as these, there are many couples who seek out marriage counseling proactively.

This will help ensure any problems that arise will be handed in a calm, collective, and loving manner. If your spouse has brought up seeking out help from a marriage counselor, do not be offended. The very fact of your spouse wanting to do therapy shows how much he or she is devoted to your marriage. Marriage counselors will be able to help you cultivate a stronger bond with your spouse as well as work through any pre-existing, current, or future issues.

If you and your spouse have agreed that marriage counseling is ideal, there are many things you need to look for in a marriage counselor. Not all marriage counselors are the same and some might not be a good match for you and your spouse. It is okay to try out a few counselors before finding the right fit. As someone who has seen multiple counselors, I can share that sometimes it is best to search around and find the counselor who you feel most comfortable with rather than settling for the first person you find on a search engine result.

As you search for a marriage counselor, look for these seven must-have qualities.

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1. They Are a Bible-Believing Christian

A non-negotiable when it comes to seeking out a marriage counselor is that they are a Bible-believing Christian. While many good marriage counselors are not Christians, it is best to have a Christian as your marriage counselor. If they are not a Christian, their values might not align with yours. With recent talk of ethical non-monogamy, many marriage counselors might steer you away from a biblical approach to your marriage.

Choose to stick with a Christian marriage counselor, and it will ensure you are being counseled in a way that honors God. Christian counselors will be able to include the Bible into your sessions as well as have time for prayer. God needs to be involved in your counseling sessions and this cannot be done apart from having a Christian counselor. The Lord is the One who brought you and your spouse together, and it is pleasing to Him when you want to include Him in your struggles, difficulties, and hardships.

All marriages need to be built upon the Lord. If they are not built upon the Lord, it will crumble. A Christian marriage counselor will be able to help guide your marriage in the way that God wants and provide a third-party, unbiased opinion on various troubles in your marriage. Counselors should never tell you what to do, but they should be able to guide you and allow you and your spouse to work through these problems together.

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Married couple in marriage counseling therapist

2. They Are Honest

It goes without saying, but your marriage counselor needs to be honest. If they are not honest with you, you will never get anywhere in your counseling. You need a marriage counselor who isn't afraid of being honest and telling you the truth. If you see raised tensions or passive-aggressiveness in their behavior, you need to be able to call them out on it in a kind and helpful way.

Whenever you have the slightest inkling that your marriage counselor is not being honest, it is time to find a new counselor who is honest. Honest marriage counselors are out there and they desire to build up marriages rather than tearing them down. Strive to find a marriage counselor who is honest and unafraid to discuss conflicts between you and your spouse.

Blunt honesty might be hurtful, but we are looking for a healthy balance. We need someone who is going to be honest with us in a constructive and healthy manner. There is no need for someone who tells us what we want to hear or for someone to be so blunt they hurt our feelings. Aim for someone who is honest and knows how to handle their honesty appropriately.

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couple talking in marriage counseling

3. They Don't Take Sides

Trained, professional marriage counselors do not take sides. In other words, they will not say the wife is always right, nor will they say the husband is always right. After seeing a counselor for a few sessions, you should be able to tell where they fall in this category. This is why trying out a few counselors before committing to one is vital.

Many marriage counselors are out there, yet you have to find the right one. Marriage counselors need to look at each person individually and assess the situation themselves. The purpose of marriage counseling is not to say someone is right and someone is wrong. The purpose of marriage counseling is to learn how to work through problems, build up your marriage, and bring God glory through it.

This cannot be done if the marriage counselor is always siding with one party. The moment you see them always taking your side or always taking your spouse's side, you need to bring it up. If they don't change their ways, it might be time to search for a new counselor. If this is the case for you, try to reach out to some friends and see if they have any suggestions for helpful marriage counselors.

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4. They Have Legitimate Credentials

Without a doubt, your marriage counselor must have credentials. What I mean by this is that they need to have actual training and hold a real degree in counseling and/or marriage counseling. I mention this because there are many organizations that are allowing individuals without counseling degrees to do counseling with clients. I'm not sure how they are able to do this legally; however, it is good to be aware of these things.

As you are researching marriage counselors, make sure they have true credentials. Look at what school they went to. Was it a reputable school? Taking time to look into the deeper details will help you save time in the long run. Never hire a marriage counselor or any other counselor, for the matter, unless they have legitimate credentials. Only counselors with true credentials will be able to help you and your spouse.

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5. They Value Your Opinions

We would like to believe that all counselors would value our opinions, yet some can come across as quite rude. If a counselor ever disrespects your opinion, concerns, or thoughts, they are not a good match. Don't settle for a bad marriage counselor because it will only result in problems for your marriage. Look out for a marriage counselor who values your opinions and doesn't demonize them.

Counselors are supposed to listen and help you process your feelings. Moreover, they are supposed to be a safe place for you to go, where you don't feel judged. Valuing someone's opinions is out of respect. If a marriage counselor doesn't value their clients' opinions, then it would be time to leave the practice because they do not respect you. Don't waste your time with someone who doesn't respect you and your spouse.

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Christian Psychology

6. They Validate Your Feelings

Closely related to valuing your opinion, a good marriage counselor needs to validate your feelings. I have had a counselor in the past who invalidated my feelings, and it caused the ending of my counseling. After being hurt by the person who was supposed to be a safe place, I was unsure about counselors for a while.

If a counselor ever invalidates your feelings, it is not a good match. Marriage counselors who know what they are doing do not invalidate their clients feelings. If you feel you or your husband's feelings are being invalidated, it is time to step away from the practice. It is sad that many marriage counselors do this, yet it is not something you have to tolerate.

Choose to invest your time into someone who validates you and your spouse's feelings. Counseling is a place where we can be open and honest with our feelings. It is not supposed to be a place where we feel as though we have to hide them in order to not be invalidated and hurt. You should never feel hurt or ashamed while you are in counseling.

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7. They Feel Comfortable and Safe

Lastly, a hallmark of marriage counselors is that they feel comfortable and safe. As soon as you know a marriage counselor is safe and comfortable, you know you have found the right person. If they are safe and comfortable, it is most likely because they are a honest, credible Christian marriage counselor, who doesn't take sides, devalues your opinions, or invalidates your struggles. Once you have found a marriage counselor who checks all the boxes, you will feel comfortable and safe with them.

You will not be dreading your sessions anymore. Instead, you will look forward to your sessions, and so will your spouse. You might even notice improvements in your marriage and better communication in your relationship because your counselor is actually helping you.

As you are looking for a marriage counselor, don't be afraid to take your time and look into a few options before deciding on one person. Go to God in prayer and seek out His direction also. He will help guide you to the right marriage counselor.

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Vivian BrickerVivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.

Originally published Saturday, 11 May 2024.