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Marriage Counseling

Couple Experiencing Marriage Counseling Together

Providing Relationship and Marriage Counseling

When someone is on the verge of making an important life decision they often seek the counsel of their faith leader, minister, or a clergy member. As an ordained minister, you may be asked to provide guidance on a variety of issues, including marriage counseling. If you don't have previous experience with marriage or relationship counseling, we have compiled some basic information to familiarize you with this task.

A Complicated Task

Due to the complex nature and interconnectivity of marriage problems, you should always use caution when assessing a situation. Always listen to what the client is telling you before making a full statement.

Even if your clients are not experiencing fundamental problems with their marriage, they may be seeking advice on how to strengthen it. Be prepared to offer tips for improving a good relationship, as well as salvaging a difficult one.

What Do Your Clients Want and Are You Qualified to Provide It?

When a couple seeks out marriage counseling, there are usually dealing with some serious issues. From infidelity, to financial troubles, or parenting disagreements, these problems are typically quite complicated. They may come to you initially looking for advice. If the dispute can be easily resolved, you may offer guidance to them. However, because of the delicate nature of such situations, it is likely that assistance from a trained and knowledgeable counselor will be necessary. Ideally this counselor will have dealt with the same situations in past counseling.

Seeking outside assistance does not signify a shortcoming. Even well-trained ministers have limitations. If you think the couple would benefit from seeing a professional, you might do a little research about professional counselors in the area to point them in the right direction.

Online Marriage Counseling

Online Counseling

If you live in a more rural area then locating a qualified counselor can be difficult. If this is the case, then you might contact a counselor that specializes in the field of family or general counseling to get recommendations for marriage counseling. If there are professionals that aren't listed in directories then these general counselors might be able to refer you to them.

Technological progress has been a game changer in the field of counseling. Thanks to the internet and applications like video chat, remote counseling is now a reality. This can be especially useful for clients that are in an area with limited counseling resources or people who have a fear of professional bias. For example, a gay couple might be treated differently by a local provider if that person doesn't support same-sex relationships. Remote counseling can also be helpful for interfaith couples who need specialized advice.

There are few things you will need to set up a remote counseling sessions. You will need a stable connection to the internet with a computer or tablet device connected. Make sure your video chat application is working correctly -- try testing it out beforehand. Although newer laptops and tablets have a built in camera, if you are on an older laptop or desktop you might need to attach a webcam to the computer. You can find these online or in your local electronics store.

Learning More About Relationship Counseling

Even if you have never been approached about marriage counseling, it's important to be prepared should the moment arise. Although the best way to prepare is obviously through formal education, there are many helpful resources available online. You might also consider ordering a book on the topic to become better informed.

Attending a counseling session yourself can also be very beneficial. In doing so, you will get an idea of how clients feel during a session. By exploring the counselor-client relationship from the client's perspective, you will also get a better idea of what approaches to use with your own clients in the future.

Logistics and Legalities

Regarding counseling, all clients are afforded certain rights:

Marriage counseling offers a better path
  • Privacy - The privacy of your clients is of the utmost importance. You should consider this when picking the location of your building or the room you will use. Some counselors have found white noise machines to be a useful tactic for shared spaces/buildings.
  • Time - To the best of your ability you should ensure that each session begins and ends on time and is uninterrupted. It is typical to schedule sessions in 30-60 minutes blocks.
  • Discretion - When it comes to therapy, and marriage counseling in particular, many people are hesitant to speak freely. You should do all that you can to ensure to the client that you can be trusted and will practice full discretion regarding their personal matters.
  • Professionalism - Your clients are coming to you with very intimate and personal issues. They must know that you can be trusted with this important information. Treat every situation with the professionalism your clients deserve.

A minister's license is usually the minimum requirement to practice clerical counseling, but you should still read up on the legal and professional guidelines for the state to ensure that you meet all relevant qualifications.

Helping Others

As a counseling minister you can be called on often to help the community you are serving. Even if you have received formal training, remember that everyone's abilities have limits. Recognizing these limits, while humbling, is very important to the health of your client. Don't be afraid to refer clients to other counselors. Even if you are indirectly involved in treatment, this service can have a tremendous positive impact.

Note: This page is intended to be an informative overview, and is NOT a substitute for formal training. We cannot vouch for individual ministers seeking to to perform marriage counseling, and we are unable to provide documentation authorizing ministers to act in such a capacity.