Frequently Asked Questions
We want to be transparent about the operation of the National Registry of Marriage Friendly Therapists. Feel free to contact us with additional questions so that we can add to this list of Frequently Asked Questions.
How will Therapists get referrals through the Registry?
There are three ways. First, couples can go on-line and ask us to connect them with a therapist in their community; we will give them therapists’ contact information using a randomized process of listing therapists rather than using alphabetical order. Second, referral sources in the community may contact us for a list of registered therapists and then refer directly. Third, if therapists may choose to advertise that they are on the Registry (via methods such as business cards, professional announcements, or Yellow Pages advertising), couples may contact therapists directly because of their connection with the Registry.
How will therapists know if a specific referral comes from the Registry?
This is a bit complicated. If we make a direct referral through the website, we will let you know through email that we gave out your contact information. If a local referral source requests a list of therapists on the Registry, we will let you know who expressed interest so that you can be on the lookout for referrals from that source; however, you may not know for sure that a specific couple comes through a Registry referral source. Similarly, if you receive referrals because you publicize the fact that you are on the Registry, you also may not know for sure whether a specific couple came through the Registry. The bottom line: we expect the Registry to help your practice in a number of ways, some of them visible and some invisible.
The simple answer is that we believe in marriage as a value, a relationship, and a social institution. We do not want to water down the term by just saying “couple,” because couple can denote a transient bond, a serious but not permanent commitment, or a life long commitment. The Registry is intended mostly for couples with a life long commitment, which in our society generally means marriage.
Some colleagues, fearing that the Registry’s name will be seen as making a political statement against committed cohabiting couples or same sex couples, have urged us to use terms such as “enduring conjugal unions,” but we prefer not to invent a new term. Most people know what marriage means, even if there is societal debate about who should be permitted to marry. Our mission is not to engage in the culture war about marriage, but to help couples who consider themselves married to find competent therapists to support their marriage.
Then is the Registry only for married couples? Will you exclude others?
We will not screen out any couple who wants help for their relationship. Therapists
describe their clinical practice on a web page that potential clients can
It will be up each couple to inquire about the therapist’s practice and expertise with couples in their own situation.
What kind of business is the Registry?
When we began planning the Registry, we assumed it would be a not-for-profit organization, but we were quickly advised that the IRS would not regard us that way—because the core activity of the Registry involves bringing paying clients to therapists. Therefore, we have brought this project to life as Limited Liability company: The National Registry of Marriage Friendly Therapists, LL.. But we intend to abide by our ethical standards as professionals, which means putting people before profits.
How is the Registry different from similar web-based referral directories of therapists?
Most of the existing web-based referral sources require only that therapist have a license. They have no additional requirements for years of experience, for specific clinical training in marriage therapy, for current specialization in marriage therapy, or for the therapist’s value orientation about marriage and commitment.
Why not just send couples to any licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT)?
LMFTs have course work in marriage and couples therapy, and many do good work with couples. But licensure requirements do not ensure significant clinical training with couples (as opposed to individuals and whole families). Holding an LMFT also says nothing about whether the therapist currently specializes in marriage and couples therapy, or about the therapist’s values about marriage and divorce. Indeed, many marriage and family therapists say they are neutral about whether their clients stay married or divorce. Professional ethics codes, including those of marriage and family therapists, are silent on the value of marriage and life-long commitment. If we thought that it was sufficient for couples to locate a licensed marriage and family therapist, or a member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, we would not have started the Registry.
How did you decide on the fee?
There were several considerations. First, we do not want to charge couples for the service because we felt it would be a barrier; this means that therapists will bear the expense. Second, to make the Registry viable on a national scale, we need to raise enough revenue to advertise widely to therapists and the lay public. Third, Registry fees are in the ballpark of the dues of many professional membership organizations. Fourth, other web-based Registries for therapists have similar levels of annual fees.