Counseling isn't "one size fits all," and every therapist may not be a good fit for you.
Searching for the best marriage counselor in San Diego is a very important part of your therapy process – before you can begin to make progress you need to find the right therapist. I believe you should find a therapist that will best fit your needs and your particular situation.
Pay Attention to Specific Training.
Finding the therapist who best fits your needs for marriage counseling in San Diego starts with their background and training. For example – if you or your partner has gone through a trauma that is impacting the relationship, make sure the counselor you choose is trained in working with trauma (like I am with EMDR).
Learn About Theoretical Orientation.
Did you know there are many different styles of counseling, different “schools of thought,” and different techniques? Believe it or not, there are many styles and theoretical orientations used in counseling. Some theories are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Emotionally Focused Therapy, Bowenian Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Psychodynamic, and Narrative. Educating yourself on the different theories will help you understand which therapist may be a better match for your situation and way of thinking. Some theories will work better for certain people, does the style of the counselor fit with your personality? This is very important!
Don’t take the “one size fits all” approach and search for the cheapest therapist in San Diego. Your marriage may be hanging on by a thread or severely hurt by a significant event. Time is of the essence and you should find a therapist that can really handle your situation. Find the BEST marriage counselor, not the cheapest. Remember, one size does not fit all and “affordable” or “low cost” doesn’t always equal a good fit. Invest in your marriage, and it will save you a lot of money and heartache from having to go through a variety of counselors, which can feel exhausting and may even leave you feeling defeated or hopeless. This is your life and your relationship, you want to invest in it. That being said, it doesn’t hurt to ask therapists if they have any low fee slots or sliding scale availability.
Talk to the Counselor.
Research shows that one of the biggest factors in progress with counseling is the therapist-client relationship. Sometimes a photo and website just isn’t enough to feel confident that you are making a good decision. The first impression always counts. You will need to watch how the therapist interacts with you, responds to your concerns, and connects with your situation. Make sure your gut instinct isn’t screaming “watch out, this doesn’t feel right.” Keep in mind you are discussing painful and uncomfortable issues, so it may take a few sessions to really know if you are comfortable with this therapist or not. Remember this is your space. If you have any questions or thoughts coming up in the session you want to express to your counselor, do it.
Look out for emotional attunement. Not only is it important to feel comfortable and understood by your therapist, but the therapist needs to be able to attune to you emotionally. Basically, what this means is they need to fully understand what you are feeling emotionally and why you are feeling the way you feel. You need to feel like your therapists “gets” you. Feeling attune with your therapist will help create and keep the space safe. The worst thing to do is feel misunderstood and fight to be understood in each session. That is a waste of time, emotions, and money.
It is critical to know that you and your therapist have the same goals in mind. There needs to be a roadmap for what you need. Therapy is not about venting to someone for an hour, but never making change or progress or feel like it’s going anywhere. When I am with my clients, we discuss the goals and then I share how we are going to get there – the
roadmap. Therapy won’t be successful if there are different goals and the roadmap isn’t clearly stated and agreed
Take a peek around your potential therapist’s online website and get a good feel for that therapist. Read their materials on their website, read their blogs, and learn more about the therapist. Simply because someone shows up on the first page of Google for marriage counseling in San Diego doesn’t mean that person is the best fit for you. A counselor should have a lot of information on her website that shows she is knowledgeable and well trained in the specific area of your relationship needs, which will also help you narrow down your search. You will learn a lot about a therapist and their specialty when you do your research.
Be Open Minded
Don’t forget, walking into a counseling office is very difficult and may stir up a bit of emotion for you. Look past your own anxiety and be open minded to what the therapist has to offer. Sometimes going in to counseling requires you to do some soul searching and take responsibility for your actions. San Diego has hundreds of great marriage counselors, so you get to take your time and find the best one that fits your specific needs.
HERE IS A LITTLE ABOUT JENNINE:
I am active in the counseling sessions and I try to get to the core of issues; I don’t want to just put a Band Aid on the situation. I work from an Emotionally Focused Therapy approach that emphasizes creating secure attachments in the relationship and improving the communication styles. My main focus is on relationships; from singlehood to newlyweds, from long term marital struggles to recently divorced individuals. Relationships impact us no matter what stage of life we are in, and I want to help you along the way.
Please take a tour of my website, read about how I became a therapist, review my relationship articles, check out my Relationships in the Raw website, and learn more about how I work as a counselor. I provide as much information about my services and my therapeutic approach on my website to help you determine if I would be a fit for your needs.
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653