Is Marriage and Family Counseling right for me?

Is Marriage and Family Counseling right for me?

Marriage and Family Counseling may be of benefit to you if you or your family have experienced difficulties such as:

  • communication problems
  • infidelity
  • balancing the demands of home and work
  • misbehavior or school problems in a child
  • the loss of a family member
  • childhood traumas
  • conflicts in blended or remarriage families
  • step-parenting problems
  • family violence, or
  • substance abuse

You may also wish to see a family and couples counselor to enhance your family relationships by learning such skills as effective communication, conflict resolution, assertiveness, and time management.

Marriage and Family Counselors practice in a variety of settings, including independent practice, community mental health agencies, managed care organizations, hospitals, employee assistance programs, and houses of worship. They may provide any of the following services:

  • assessment and diagnosis
  • individual, couples, and family counseling
  • prevention programs and parent education programs
  • crisis management
  • multi-couple or multi-family groups

If you would like to contact a Marriage and Family Counselor:

1. Get a referral (advice on who to contact) from someone you trust.
2. Check out the counselor’s credentials. Marriage and Family Counselors have at least a master’s degree, receive supervised experience following graduation, are licensed or certified in 40 states, may be certified by such organizations as the National Academy of Certified Family Therapists and follow ethical codes.
3. Make sure the counselor has experience in working with the difficulties you are encountering.
4. Ask about payment options.
5. Consider interviewing more than one counselor to find a good fit for yourself and your family.

During your first visit, your counselor should discuss the following:

  • inform you about what to expect from counseling
  • inform you about their credentials and experience
  • discuss treatment methods
  • discuss fees and scheduling

Most importantly, you should feel as though the counslor is someone you can trust, someone who respects you. You should feel safe and be able to talk about what bothers you most. Feeling respected and safe may include receiving a prompt return phone call when you first contact the counselor. You should also feel that the counselor has time for you, is able to schedule appointments when you feel the need for them, and is on time for sessions. Sexual intimacy between counselor and client is never appropriate.

Your counselor should respond to your concerns in a caring and helpful way. This includes careful listening and working ttogether to set reasonable goals. You should feel hopeful about the counselor’s ideas about how to help you and your family.

Payment options include direct payment, reimbursement by an insurance company, or participation in a managed care plan. Ask your counselor about the advantages and disadvantages of each payment plan.

Additional information regarding how to find a counselor and ethical practices of counselors can be found on the American Counseling Association’s web site:


Reprinted with the kind permission of International Association of Marriage & Family Counselors.



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