5 Skills of Marriage Counselors

  • Relationship-Building Skills
  • Goal Set
  • Good Teacher and Leaders
  • Comfort, Respect and Ethics
  • Problem-Solving Abilities

For many couples, a good marriage counselor can mean the difference between staying married and getting divorced. However, many couples don’t know what to look for in a marriage counselor. At best, a situation like this is merely frustrating. At worst, it’s detrimental to a marriage that’s already in trouble. That being the case, couples who need marriage counseling should look for a counselor with the following traits.

1. Relationship-Building Skills

A good marriage counselor knows how to build relationships. Marriage counselors must build trust with their clients to do their jobs effectively. Many of the therapeutic aspects of counseling come from the relationship skills that the couple builds with the counselor and with each other.

According to North Central University, it’s important that a marriage counselor likes to interact with people and that he or she does so regularly. These relationship skills are built upon the foundation of good communication skills, empathy and the ability to solve conflicts.

2. Helps Couple Set Concrete Goals

Marriage counseling should help with goal setting. Psychology Today points out that a couple with a marriage in crisis doesn’t have the luxury of looking at their childhoods to solve their marriage problems. Their marriage counselor should possess the ability to help them set concrete goals.

These goals should also have markers that indicate whether or not the treatment is working. The couple should see progress within two or three sessions. If this isn’t the case, the couple should address this with the therapist right away.

3. Good Teachers and Leaders

Changing the course of a marriage that has gotten off track is no small feat. A marriage counselor who doesn’t possess both leadership and teaching skills won’t have much luck helping a couple turn their relationship around. A good counselor can convince the couple to work towards their goals. Solid leadership skills, plus the ability to teach and model what ideal relationship behaviors look like, set the average marriage counselor apart from the truly effective one.

4. Comfort, Respect and Ethics

The most effective counseling situations include healthy doses of comfort, respect and ethics. A therapist who can’t make his or her clients feel comfortable and respected and who doesn’t have a foundation in ethics won’t be effective. These qualities allow couples to let their guards down and be vulnerable with the counselor and with one another.

Marriage counselors must adhere to the code of ethics set forth by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). These ethics lay the foundation for counseling confidentiality. Ethical counselors understand the legal ramifications of their work as well.

Related Resource: Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs

5. Problem-Solving Abilities

A couple who is having challenges often can’t see the forest through the trees. This stands to reason. If they knew how to solve their marital problems, they probably would have already solved their marriage problems. The fact that they’re seeking the help of a counselor suggests that their problem-solving abilities, at least where their marriage is concerned, have gone awry. Their marriage therapist should have the ability to step in with some workable solutions. The couple will rely on the therapist’s problem-solving skills until they are better able to solve problems on their own.

Effective marriage therapists come in many different shapes and sizes, (so to speak). These professionals have been trained to help couples get to the root of their marriage problems and to solve them. Such a marriage counselor can be just what a marriage in trouble needed to get back on the road to health.