Like all couples, gay couples sometimes get into situations in their relationships where an objective third party is needed to sort them out. It’s hard to know what to look for in a gay-friendly therapist. If you choose a therapist who has no experience with same-sex couples, they may not have the understanding needed to truly be of help. We’re creating the gay couples guide to couples therapists to help you in your search for a gay-friendly couples counselor.
What to look for
Look for a therapist who has experience with counseling couples. Marriage and relationship counselors have additional training and experience that will allow them to give you tools and strategies for coping with problems and issues in your relationship. Check out their business page or website and see if they specialize in couples, or same-sex couples. If you don’t see anything listed, you can email or call and ask them if they are a gay-friendly therapy practice. If they say yes, ask them how many gay couples they’ve counseled or are currently seeing in their practice. One of the most important questions to ask is if they use any particular model for helping you with the relationship challenge. You want someone who has an attachment- based theory. This is the model that research has shown helps couples changing the nature of the relationship long term.
Interview the counselor
If the practice offers a free consultation or introductory phone call, take advantage of that to “interview “them as to their experience and ability to successfully counsel same sex couples. Talk about your expectations and goals for therapy as a couple and as individuals and ask pointed questions about how they would approach these issues. Couples Experts recommend that you see a counselor that specializes in couples counseling using the EFT (emotionally-focused therapy) model as it is the best in our opinion for getting to the source of the problem and helping couples to connect and rebuild their relationships. Another good methodology is The Gottman Method. Both of these have shown excellent results.
Ask your peers
Very often the best advertisement is word of mouth. While you might not be ready to disclose that you’re looking for a couples counselor (it IS a private decision), you can, if you feel comfortable, ask for a referral from someone you know. You might be surprised to learn that you’re not the only couple who’s ever sought help for their relationship from a couples counselor. Sometimes hearing someone else’s personal experience is a great way to decide on whether to use that counselor yourselves.
How does the staff treat you?
In visiting the therapy practice for the first time, take note of how the staff responds to you and your partner. Are they cool and polite or warm and inviting? This can be a real deal-breaker. Remember, these are the people that you are going to be seeing on a regular basis for some time to come and you want to feel comfortable and at ease. If you do not, then you probably want to continue looking for that place where you and your partner feel completely accepted and welcomed every time you come through the door. This goes for the counselor as well. If you feel any discomfort or inability to connect with the therapist, this may not be the place for you to go for help. Listen to your gut, it usually serves us well. You have to be able to have a level of comfort and trust with your therapist or there’s no point in going. It won’t take more than one or two visits for you to know if a relationship with the therapist is going to happen or not. If you don’t feel like you’re in the right place, you’re probably not. Reach out and discuss this with the counselor. All of us know we can’t connect with everyone. The counselor likely will be able to help you find someone that’s a good fit. They might be able to steer you to someone in the same practice you can relate to on a more comfortable level.
Take your time, be thorough and above all, find the person that you both feel comfortable with and can build a therapeutic relationship with to get to the source of your relationship issues. Gay-friendly couples counselors are out there. Don’t settle until you find the one that you and your partner both connect with.