When you need a marriage counselor, there are some basic things you need to check out. The following is a list of questions to ask. These questions may be asked of the counselor being considered. Others may be asked about the counselor. It may appear that you are being too personal, but remember they will be even more personal. And besides, you are trusting God to use them in helping you to strengthen or repair your covenant marriage, so you want to make sure this is God’s representative to best assist you.
Who sponsors the counselor?
Do you have any particular sponsors? Are you funded by an agency or government grant? Are you sponsored by a church or denomination, or are you strictly in a private practice?
How long have you counseled in the community?
Length of tenure in a location doesn’t guarantee quality, but it is an indicator of the counselor’s “staying power.” Beware of anyone in his or her fourth location in the past three years.
What is the person’s reputation?
Do you have any references? Are you connected with any local association of counselors? What is their reputation among other professionals? What is their reputation among those making referrals? What is their reputation with clients? Asking questions like these can give you a feel for how the counselor functions.
What is the person’s training and specialization?
What type of training have you received? Do you hold any special certifications? Is your professional training in the area of counseling? If so, do they have a specialization? Certifications may include age groups (children, teens, couples, older adults) or issues (sexual abuse, eating disorders, etc.). Beware of anyone who claims to specialize in too much.
Are you licensed or certified?
How long have you been in practice? What locations? If they are licensed or certified, what agencies have licensed them? Be cautious. There are many “diploma mills” functioning today. Some of these are sponsored by religious entities. Do other professionals recognize the certification or license?
What does the counselor claim he or she can do?
What are the average lengths of sessions? Be careful of any claims that seem exaggerated or magical. Counseling requires hard work on the part of the client. Fee based?
What is your spiritual orientation?
Does the counselor have a spiritual orientation? If so, what role does it play in your counseling? Do you pray or use Scripture with your clients? If they call themselves a Christian counselor, what does it mean to you to be a “Christian?” What role does faith in God play in your counseling? What place does it have in your life? What statement of faith do you live by? What church or congregation do you attend and what is your role in this local body?