Marriage counselling can be an invaluable resource for couples who are experiencing difficulties in their relationship. A skilled and effective marriage counsellor can help the couple work through their issues while improving communication and strengthening their overall relationship. Unfortunately, only some marriage counsellors are eligible for couples therapy. As a result, understanding the warning signs of a bad marriage counsellor is critical to finding the best therapist for your couple’s therapy journey. A few signs of a bad marriage counsellor are:

  • They lack the appropriate qualification

Practicing as a marriage counsellor requires specialized training and credentials, not only in counselling but also in couples therapy. Practicing without proper training is also considered unethical. So it is advisable to ask marriage therapists about their training and educational background before starting therapy with them.

  • Lack of Structure

Effective couple’s therapy requires a clear structure. This means your therapist must help you set the right goals for your relationship and should also have a plan for reaching them. A lack of structure might keep the couple stuck in therapy with no real progress or improvement. Thus, it is advisable to ask a marriage therapist about the structure of their sessions and their style of work before seeking therapy from them.

  • Takes Sides & acts as a middleman or passes on one’s message to other

Couple’s therapy should be a safe space for both partners to speak about their concerns about the relationship. If a therapist loses neutrality and frequently starts supporting one partner over the other, the therapy process might not be effective. A good counsellor will only facilitate better communication between the partners. 

  • Gives Advice

A good marriage counsellor respects the autonomy of the couple by helping them identify their issues and reach mutually agreeable solutions for them. A therapist giving unsolicited advice or telling couples what to do about their relationship may be considered unethical.

  • Makes Judgements

The role of the therapist in couples counseling is to provide both partners with a safe space so that they can open up about their relationship with freedom. Thus, a competent therapist is often empathetic and non-judgmental, while a therapist offering their own judgements is considered ineffective.   

  • Invalidates Emotions

Couples therapy is a space for empathy and acceptance of the emotions of both partners Thus, a therapist dismissing the emotions and concerns of one or both partners may be seen as a red flag in couples therapy. Invalidation may look like constantly interrupting partners while they speak or blaming one or both partners for issues in the relationship.

  • Shares Too Much Personal Information

Sometimes therapists talk about their personal lives to build trust and provide couples with a few insights or examples that might be useful to the process of therapy, but if the therapist constantly talks about themselves and takes the focus away from the couple, the therapy might not be effective.

  • Gets Defensive To Feedback

Feedback is an essential part of the therapy process, as it helps to evaluate if therapy is going in the right direction or needs changes. If the therapist refuses to acknowledge feedback or criticism and disrespects your opinions or feelings, it can be a red flag.

A good couple therapist is often flexible and tries to incorporate client feedback in therapy.


Marriage counselling is effective for 70% of couples who opt for it. However, the effectiveness of the therapy process also depends on the skills and competencies of the marriage counsellor. A structured and non-judgemental approach is generally helpful for effective marriage counselling. Recognizing these warning signs of a bad marriage counselor can help couples choose the right therapist for themselves.


  1. 25 Signs of a Bad Therapist & How to Leave Them. (n.d.). Choosing Therapy. Retrieved December 26, 2023, from
  2. Advice, M. (2023, March 26). 15 Signs of a Bad Marriage Counselor (& How to Find a Good One). Married Advice.
  3. What a Marriage Counselor Should Not Say. (n.d.). Well Marriage Center. Retrieved December 26, 2023, from

Dhruva Koranne

Dhruva Koranne has completed his Masters in Applied Psychology from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, BALM. He has been practicing as a counsellor since 2020 and works to create a safe space for clients where they can open up. In addition to this, Dhruva loves researching and studying about upcoming theories in the field of Psychology. Connect with him on Linkedin