When you walk into any bookstore and peruse the relationship section, you will find hundreds of books on how to have a better relationship. You may start flipping through a few – perhaps enticed by their cover or, in response to-the latest “expert” that was featured on a popular talk show.
There is a lot of advice out there. Experts who seemingly know what it takes to navigate around the perplexing world of couplehood. The problem is that most of this advice is not based on anything but the authors own ideas or experience in their field. That would be the equivalent to a physician practicing entirely anecdotal medicine. That would be unacceptable in our country. We expect our healers to practice evidenced-based medicine. It should be the same when it comes to our mental health and especially to relationship therapy.
There are therapists out there that are practicing evidenced-based relationship therapy. You just have to do your research in identifying them. When looking for a therapist, make certain they have a specialty in couples therapy and their state license is current, but in additional to those very important elements, ask them what model they use when helping couples. Ask them what their success rate is. If they are a Certified Gottman Therapist or practice Emotionally-Focused Couples Therapy, that’s a good place to start. These two types of therapy and the theory that support each model are based on research. You can be assured by the therapists training and an interview with them, if they are competent and practice evidenced-based couples therapy. Of course, you have to feel comfortable with the therapist – a therapist may have all the credentials in the world and practice evidenced-based couples therapy, but if you don’t feel like they “get” you or your story, it’s ok to look around. The best scenario is one in which you feel comfortable AND the therapist is competent in the latest empirically-supported research on couples.
Shelly Hummel, LMFT
Founder of The Align Center for Couples in Wake Forest NC