How to Choose a Premarital Counselor

Couples enter into premarital counseling to prepare for marriage, and to make sure their relationship is strong, healthy, and ready for a lifetime commitment. Premarital counseling also gives couples the opportunity to identify and work through weaknesses and challenges that might cause problems during a marriage. Licensed family and marriage counselors provide premarital counseling, as do many religious institutions. Some religions require it by a spiritual leader before a marriage can take place. Choose a premarital counselor who will help you prepare for marriage and give you the tools to address any problems that come up once you and your spouse are married.


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    Satisfy any religious obligations. If your church requires a pastor, or other spiritual leader to conduct your premarital counseling, make sure you choose someone who is qualified according to your religion. Talk to the church leader who will be performing your ceremony, and find out if you have options, or if you are assigned to someone specific.
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    Get a referral from work or your insurance carrier. Some workplaces have Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), who can refer an employee to a counselor. There are also insurance plans that cover counseling, so check with your insurer about mental and behavioral health benefits, and ask for a list of covered counselors.
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    Look for a specialist in premarital counseling. There are family and marital therapists who do a lot of work with couples who are not yet married. Research online in your local area, or contact the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) for a referral to a credentialed specialist.
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    Review background information. Check out the educational backgrounds of premarital counselors you are considering. You can choose someone with a master's degree, or if you prefer, find a counselor with a doctorate.
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    Select a premarital counselor with convenient office hours and locations. These logistics are important as you and your spouse try to fit regular counseling sessions into your schedules. Make sure the counselor has an office that is easy for both of you to get to, and hours that accommodate your work schedules.
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    Ask for an explanation of how treatment works. The premarital counselor should explain his or her treatment plan. You will want to know how often you will see the counselor, how long the sessions will last, and what to expect when you are there. Some counselors will do an initial assessment and then work towards goals. Others will dive right into current weaknesses and issues you are having as a couple. Make sure you are both comfortable with the expectations and direction of the counseling.
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    Make sure you can afford the counselor's fee. Ask the counselor to tell you how much you are charged for each session, if insurance is accepted, and how you are expected to pay.
    • Be realistic about your budget, and address any limitations. Usually new counselors or counselors working towards their graduate or post-graduate degrees will charge less than those who have been practicing for a long time.


  • Trust your instincts when choosing a premarital counselor. After researching counselors online, talking to people who recommend them, and speaking with them on the phone, you usually have a feeling about who might be a good fit for you and your future spouse. Respect your intuition and choose someone who makes you comfortable before you even have an in-person session.
  • Supplement your premarital counseling with other classes and workshops. Prepare yourself for marriage in as many ways as you can. Work on your relationship with your future spouse as much as you can. You have made an important decision together, and you want to feel as prepared as you possibly can.

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Categories: Married Life