9 Rare Traits Of A Great Marriage Counselor

A great marriage therapist can get out of the way and be there at the same time.

Last updated on Jun 22, 2023

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Are you and your spouse currently seeing a marriage counselor or therapist?

Truth be told, couples counseling and therapy aren't for the faint of heart.

Not only are you investing countless hours talking about challenges in your relationship, but there's also no guarantee that the person guiding you through the process is going to solve your problems.

RELATED: Why All Couples Should Consider Marriage Counseling, According To Experts


What an effective marriage counselor does for you

A good marriage therapist is skilled at helping people overcome the differences that naturally occur when two people live under the same roof. They need to know what makes a marriage tick.

Most good therapists have been well-trained in working with couples, and are constantly learning, and keeping up on the latest trends to help couples get better.

What separates a good therapist from a great one are the intangible traits that are hard to measure — they just have them.

The main thing is that they understand that it’s all about you and the work you put into it.


Their job is to listen and use their skills to keep you on the right track and adapt their approach to ensure it works best for you, instead of applying the same formula for every client.

So, how do you find this great person to get your marriage back on track?

RELATED: Top 4 Complaints I Hear From Men In Couples Counseling

Here are nine rare traits of a great marriage therapist:

1. They maintain a sense of calmness in the chaos

When you first enter a coaching session, you have an established position on why the marriage isn’t working.

You’re going to defend it, and you’re going to be emotional about it. The same goes for your partner.

A great therapist will establish a sense of calmness, so you can get to the root of the issues.


2. They create a team atmosphere very early in the relationship

Set a team mindset early on in the therapist-client relationship. Thinking this way helps you put 100 percent into your sessions, which is important to moving forward.

If one person pulls their weight more than the other during these sessions, it will be clearly noticeable.

Also, using team dynamic language helps some men understand the concepts, especially if they are used to working on teams, either in sports or at work.

3. They have the ability to extract the underlying issues

When couples start meeting with a therapist, it’s usually over a specific issue — a sexless marriage, money issues, or infidelity.


Those sessions are usually heated discussions the therapist will have to deal with before they get to the real issues.

A therapist should have patience as well as the ability to extract the underlying challenges in order for the couple to work on it.

4. They can restate one partner’s position so the other understands

One of the major challenges for couples is their ability to communicate. Miscommunications usually happen because one partner has trouble understanding the other, or someone misinterprets what was said.

A great marriage therapist can communicate in such a way that helps both partners hear — and also understand — the message being said.


Your therapist should give you the right tools and exercises to start to do this on your own, which is just as important.

5. They challenge either partner if necessary

Usually, one partner is reluctant to go to a marriage counselor because they feel the conversations will be one-sided.

They get attacked at home, so why would they spend money to get attacked some more?

A therapist must be willing to challenge both partners for their role in the deterioration of their marriage, even if it seems one-sided. This will help even the playing field on both sides and get the more reluctant partner to open up.

RELATED: 8 Types Of Marriage Counseling (And Which One Works Best For You & Your Partner)


6. They provide exercises to expand the conversation

Learning doesn’t just occur in the classroom, and marriage therapy is no different. In order to apply some of the things you will learn in your session, homework is crucial to moving forward.

7. They pivot when it comes naturally without forcing it

Since relationships are fluid, things can occur from session to session that can be damaging if not addressed.

When a counselor is present in the conversation, they can pivot without forcing their agenda.

8. They help their clients dig deeper

The underlying issues that are just below the surface usually involve a lot of pain.


Some partners will do a lot to keep from addressing their hurt using deflecting tactics to sabotage important discussions. By not understanding and addressing the pain, couples are hard-pressed to move forward.

9. They are direct and cut through the noise

You don’t want your therapist to go through the motions just to keep you on the hook. If they see that no progress is being made, the two of you need to assess your marriage — or else.

Life is too short to keep going through the motions.

After it’s all said and done, a good marriage therapist involves a skilled individual working with two people voicing their complaints and helping them change some aspect of their behavior for the good of the team.


A great therapist can do all of those things, and you don’t even realize they are doing it. By the time you’re done, your marriage is on its way to recovery.

RELATED: 5 Critical Questions To Answer About Your Relationship Before Going To Couples Counseling

Keith Dent is a certified relationship coach and author of In The Paint: How to Win the Game of Love.