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How to know if a marriage counselor is a relationship saver or a relationship ender before you ever do a first session with them

Marriage Counseling Insider secret for Saving Your Marriage: How to know if a marriage counselor is a relationship saver or a relationship ender before you ever do a first session with them

By Fred R. Talisman Licensed Marriage, Family Counselor

For over 20 years as a couples therapist, I‘ve specialized in saving relationships that were on the verge of ending even when only one person still wanted the relationship to work and even when they had no hope that it could be saved.

You’ve probably known of couples that went to couples counseling and wound up breaking up.

Even one session with the wrong couples therapist can finalize your breakup. The right one can be one of your biggest assets in saving your relationship.


When a relationship is in crisis, it’s in a very delicate state. Relationship counseling is not neutral. It can help make the relationship better. If done incorrectly, it can push the relationship over the edge.

All couple counselors have their biases.

Some marital counselors think that if a relationship isn’t working, a person should get out. They’ll tend to guide an individual or couple in that direction. I call them relationship enders.

Other marriage counselors, like myself, believe that, with rare exception, an individual and/or couple should do everything possible to learn and master the skills to make their relationship work and thus to save their relationship and keep their family together. And, we show you step by step how to save it. We’re relationship savers.

It’s my professional belief and experience that most romantic relationships that end, end unnecessarily and end with the couple still having love for each other.

It’s my experience, that for most relationships in crisis, that when an individual or couple gets the right kind of help and training and consistently practices those skills that they can actually not just stay together but can both individually thrive staying together.

What you should look for when you’re interviewing relationship counselors?

It would help you to understand, in general, how couples counseling is conducted.

There tends to be two different ways that couple counseling is done.

The way it’s often conducted, the relationship therapist will get the couple to talk about the marriage problems and their upset feelings. Each session they will have them talk about their feelings and problems and perhaps give them insights and understandings as to why they have those feelings and problems.

It’s a process that can go on for months and even longer.

That way of working takes a long time. Often, a person that’s ready to leave the relationship won’t stick around that long.

There’s a bigger problem with that way of working.

If a therapist gets a couple to talk about the relationship problems and to continue to rehash those problems and upsets each session, without giving them tools and solutions early on in the process, the couple and especially the person that’s on the verge of ending the relationship, will tend to get even more upset.

It’s a potentially destructive way of working and can wind up finalizing the breakup.

A competent, experienced relationship saving marriage counselor can usually get the bulk of the information they need to help you to save your relationship within that first session and can also, during that first session, give you an overview of how specifically they can help you to get the relationship back on track.

With the right counselor, if your partner is in any way open to giving you a last chance, your partner will often leave that first session with you with a feeling of guarded hopefulness. They are likely to see that with the counselor’s help, that if you two follow through with what you’re learning from the counselor that you really can make your relationship work.

When your partner has told you they want to break up, that first couple counseling session will either help you to get a last chance with your partner or, if that session is conducted incorrectly, it can finalize the breakup.

In my experience, that first session with a couple, when a person has already told their partner they want to break up, is a very delicate, critical time.

As a Relationship Saver, I find that it’s useful to assume that the leaving partner is one step away from leaving for good. If I’m wrong, no harm. If I’m right, then I will proceed with a caution that can help that couple to have a turning point.

In my experience, in most cases, that despite their insistence that the relationship is over for them, the leaving partner is willing to do that first session because they secretly hope there really is a way to save the relationship and they really do want to be able to justify to themselves giving their partner a last chance.

In my experience, most come to realize, by the end of the first session, that with my help, the relationship really can get better for them. They are now willing to give their partner a last chance and to have more sessions with me to learn how to make their relationship really work for both of them.

When you’re interviewing marital therapists first pay attention to how you feel when you talk to them.

Pay attention to how you feel when you talk to the therapist. If they talk down to you or they make you feel uncomfortable, they are probably wrong for you.

If you feel calmed or reassured when you talk to the counselor AND they meet your other criteria, that’s a good sign.

Other qualities to look for when you’re talking to a potential marital counselor: Do they have a positive attitude; are they confident in their abilities to help you save your relationship; are they friendly, encouraging and supportive?

What should you ask relationship therapists when you interview them and what should you look for in their approach to couples counseling?

Here’s an example of how to interview potential counselors to help save your relationship:

You(Y): Hi, my relationship is in trouble and I was wondering if you could help me. Do you have a couple of minutes so I can tell you, briefly, what’s going on and find out how you would work with us?

Th(therapist): sure, go ahead.

Y: You briefly tell them your presenting problem. (For example): My partner caught me cheating on them and they’ve said they’re fed up and they’re going to leave me. Can you help us?

Th: I hope so. I can see you this Friday at 3pm.

Y: Can I ask you a couple of brief questions?

Th: sure.

Y; How long have you been in practice and what do you specialize in?”

(Usually, nothing takes the place of experience. A therapist that’s been in practice for 10 years or longer, and who specializes in saving romantic relationships, has a level of understanding based on their experience that newer less experienced therapists or one’s that don’t specialize in saving relationships don’t have access to. However, you will occasionally run across a newer, very competent therapist that can really help you out.)

Y: How specifically would you work with us?

(If you ask a marital counselor how they approach saving a relationship and they can’t tell you their process of how they go about doing that, they either are “unconsciously competent” in saving relationships or they probably aren’t relationship savers.)

When you’re trying to find a relationship saving couples counselor, what if the therapist you call won’t talk to you on the phone and their receptionist says you have to make and pay for an appointment to talk to them?

My bias is, that I wouldn’t recommend that you “blindly” pay for and do a session with a professional before you’ve had the opportunity to interview them by phone.

What if they won’t answer your questions on the phone and just say “oh, sure I can help you, just make an appointment.”

If they can’t or won’t answer your questions, you have no basis to make a decision to take the next step with them. You also don’t know if they’re a relationship saver or a relationship ender. It’s time to call the next relationship counselor on your list.

What can you do if you can’t find the right relationship saving marriage counselor?

If you can’t find the right couple counselor, or if you prefer to work with me, you can reach me at 310 429-3658 or you can email me .



Free Initial Save Your Relationship Consultation With Fred Talisman MFT

The best way to know if I can help you to save your relationship is to give me a call right now at 310 429-3658 or to email me at Once I briefly hear from you more specifically about your situation, I can be more accurate in answering the question weather or not I think I can help you to save your relationship. This consultation, by phone, will take about 10-15 minutes. There is no charge for that initial feedback from me. If you are more comfortable, you can email me your questions at


I wish you the best of luck.

Fred Talisman MFT

Licensed Marriage Counselor
Saving marriages for over 20 years
Author of: Save Your Relationship
A proven system to rescue your relationship and to keep your family together.
Cell: 310 429-3658


P.S. As part of the couples therapy I do, I sometimes recommend inspiring dvds for couples to watch together. I just watched a wonderful and touching dvd, “Snowmen.” It’s based on a true story.


Get the Free Save Your Relationship™ Mini E-Course Now!


In the E-Course
Fred will show you:

  • How to stop the fighting and arguing.
  • How to stop the verbal abuse.
  • How to talk things out in a more cooperative, peaceful and friendly way.

Fred Talisman MFT
Relationship Saving Marriage Counselor for Over 20 Years

Call/text Fred now:

My husband and I personify the saying, “Opposites attract,” and one Saturday three months ago we’d finally hit the wall; We were in that make it or break it moment. This was especially frustrating because for the ten months prior we’d been seeing a highly recommended psychologist who seemed to make our emotional situation worse. Every session went about the same: we’d air our discontents, yelling would commence, tears would fall, and the psychologist would “arbitrate”, but offer no tangible alternative ways of dealing with our conflict and emotions when he wasn’t there with us. Then he’d conclude that while we were both, “intelligent, kind, loving people, maybe you’re just not cut out to be together.” Nothing felt more awful than being told by a professional that our relationship was probably doomed. We knew we loved each other – and I knew there had to be some better way. In desperation on that particular Saturday I googled “how to save my marriage” and that took me to Fred’s website. Half an hour later we had him on the phone (on a Saturday, no less!). He asked us both one simple question, “Are you committed to saving your marriage?” Even though we were raw with anger, resentment, and hurt, we each said yes. And then he scheduled us a session for later that day. Ever since that first session Fred has been gently providing us with relationship skills we hadn’t been taught before. His approach is non-judgmental, and deliberately – remarkably – simple, and his techniques do work quickly if you are dedicated to following the steps he’s laid out for you. He provided us with time-tested ways to stop our fights before they start, and the techniques one needs to function more healthily in their relationship. Best of all he’s started to give us a way to better accept each other the way we are – rather than try to change one another. And he does this without psychoanalysis or psychobabble. It is a very refreshing approach to couples counseling; He’s not just a relationship saver, he’s a relationship builder. Thanks Fred!”
-Nichole and Jake Chambers

 “By the time I found Fred Talisman, Cindy was ready to break up with me. I was devastated. She is the person I love more than anyone. She is my soul mate. She felt that she could never trust me again and that she could never forgive me. Before I found Fred, I had tried other things and spoke to other people, but not only were their methods ineffective, some actually made things worse with her! I saw couples counseling with Fred as my last resort but she wouldn’t do it with me. I worked with Fred on my own while working with his home study course, ‘Save Your Relationship.’ I’m not geographically close to Fred’s office, so I worked with him by phone. To my amazement, working with Fred by phone was more valuable than any help I’ve gotten in person.

Thanks to Fred, she gave me a last chance. Fred gave me hope beyond hope. I was impressed with his depth of understanding and compassion. I saw the first improvements with her almost immediately after the first session I did with Fred. Cindy and I got married almost a year after the crisis that Fred got us through. Using the things that Fred taught me, my wife and I are now stronger than ever as a couple. Our relationship gets better everyday."

And that’s not all! She is now pregnant going on 20 weeks! I am so incredibly excited about what this little life will become. We are ecstatic. Everything is working really well. It’s amazing. I’m very grateful and thankful for all of Fred’s incredible help. The skills he taught me have also improved every other relationship in my life, including my friends, relatives, work mates and casual acquaintances. If everyone learned Fred’s skills and put them into practice, the world would be a much better place. I really can’t thank Fred enough and by the grace of God, I am on a much better track now with my wife. Fred not only showed me how to save my relationship. He also forever changed my life for the better. What I got from Fred is the most valuable help I have ever received.” What a difference he has made to our lives. Words do not say enough about how grateful I am. Thank you again Fred. I can’t thank Fred enough for all that he has done for us.”
-Dennis Hart

 “I called you because I really wanted to save my relationship. I feared that it was a lost cause and that we couldn’t get past the infidelity, the lack of trust and his fear of commitment. I want to thank you for the guidance, support, and help you have provided. I have learned so much about myself, relationships, and how to communicate to others from you. Everything you said makes sense and everything you taught me to do worked and continues to work. I realize I can use your skills not just to keep my relationship strong but for the rest of my life. You’ve given me invaluable life skills. I teach all my friends what I learned from you so they’re all getting the benefit of your help too. Thank you for showing me how to save my relationship. It’s in a really strong place and keeps getting better.”
-Marsha Robins

Can I help you save your relationship and help you to keep your family together? Probably. The best way to know if I can help you is for us to have a conversation. Call me now. I’m glad to spend some time talking to you. Once I hear about your situation I can tell you how I can help you. You can call or text me now at 310-429-3658, Or email me at
I serve the South Bay, Westside and San Fernando Valley communities. I do sessions in person, by FaceTime, by Skype video and by phone.

I'm really good at saving relationships. To get an idea if I can help you here’s some of the relationships I’ve saved in the words of my clients and what others have said about me as a relationship saving marriage counselor:

 “Before we came to Fred Talisman, my wife and I were on the verge of divorce. Issues had become so complex and intertwined that we couldn’t begin to sort through them. Also, the emotions associated with the issues were preventing us from being able to work them effectively. Trust had been breached as we “acted out” in various ways to relieve the stress. Fred provided both a supportive, safe container as well as the feedback necessary for us to separate the issues from our emotions and the issues from each other. He also taught us how to compartmentalize issues, breaking them down into simple negotiations. With his help, our marriage has transformed into a place where we can manage our relational and situational challenges in a way that brings us closer together, rather than pushing us apart. Thank you, Fred, for helping us save and positively transform our marriage!”
-David and Christina Litman

 “When he and I were in crisis last February, and looking like we were about to end our relationship, we agreed to get help as a last gasp attempt to possibly save “us.” I began the search for someone local, knowing that anyone we chose was a crap shoot at best. And I was feeling like if we are going to do this, I wanted to give us the best possible shot at a positive outcome. I found your info online, and I wish I could tell what it was that resonated with me, but something did and I convinced him to participate, at least to give it a try. Fred, it is hard to express in words the process, or how it worked (not trying to make it sound mystical here) but there is no doubt that it did. You brought clarity to so many issues and enabled us to rediscover the joy we had shared in each other in the past. We learned to laugh with each other again, and we have tools to keep any conflict from developing into something unnecessarily weighty. I believe we both feel that our communication skills and our depth of feelings for each other have been enhanced by the time spent with you. I wouldn’t hesitate to share your contact with anyone who confided in me that they were concerned about the future of their relationship–thanks to you, ours has a future and it is bright! Thanks for being the catalyst for this rebirth–YOU ROCK!”
-Mindy Paulson

 Fred was instrumental in helping my wife and I work through a very difficult chapter in our life. After helping us work through the immediate ‘crisis’, he went further and gave us the communication skills necessary to having a healthy relationship. These tools have transformed the way we interact and have allowed us to reach mutually beneficial agreements on items that had long been a source of conflict.”
-Stan Johnson


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