Infidelity might seem like the crushing blow that signals the end of your marriage, but many couples actually recover from infidelity according to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and some even go on to become stronger and more intimate. Infidelity happens for a number of reasons ranging from a lack of attention to a sex addition, but regardless of the reasons finding the right marriage counselor is the key to moving on, either in your marriage or separately, after infidelity.
Before you figure out which marriage counselor is right for you, you need to figure out the purpose of your treatment. You need to decide if you want to rebuild your marriage, clarify whether you want to remain married or go your separate ways points out the AAMFT website. If you don’t know if you want to remain married or feel strong anger, you might need individual counseling in addition to marriage counseling.
Choosing a counselor with the proper credentials is important. Mitch Temple, Focus on the Family’s Marriage Program Director, outlines the credentials a marriage counselor should have in an article for Focus on the Family. Any counselor you see should have a license from the state licensing board for the state where he is practicing rather than just a professional or national counseling association. The counselor’s degree should also be from an accredited university.
It's also important to ensure the counselor you choose has experience in dealing specifically with infidelity. In addition to marriage counselors, Licensed Professional Counselors might also have training and experience in marital issues, but you’ll need to ask. When you talk to counselors you’re considering, ask them if they have specific experience working with couples in crisis and what sort of problems they have dealt with.
The counselor you choose should use a skills-based model in helping you and your spouse heal. Using a skills based model focuses more on what you need to learn to work together as a couple rather than focusing on your individual feelings and personal growth. It’s also important that your counselor uses a couples therapy format rather than an individual therapy focus. A couples therapy approach allows the counselor to see you and your spouse interacting together. This gives him a full picture of each person’s contributions to the problem according to an article for "Psychology Today" by author and psychologist Susan Heitler. A counselor who uses couples therapy will likely see you and your spouse together first, if possible, and then set up individual therapy sessions if needed.
Although some counseling is covered by insurance, marriage counseling usually is not. It’s important to find a counselor that works within your financial constraints. Talk to the counselors you’re considering to find out what arrangements you can make for payment.
Meet any counselors you’re considering for an initial session before making a final decision. It’s important that you feel comfortable with the marriage counselor. Ask the counselor what his plan of action is for your marriage. If you’re not completely comfortable with the counselor after meeting in person, consider meeting a few others.