“Therapist/Marriage Counselor? What I want is the honey crisp of the therapy world.”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Victoria Pickering

“Dear PoPville,

I searched your archives and only found one blog post about finding a marriage counselor but it was for pre-nuptial counseling. I have a need for marriage counseling at the other end of the marriage – trying to figure out if I want out or want to open it up, or what. Do you mind posting a question about a) should I be looking for a more general therapist, or a marriage counselor if (at least at first) I want to see them on my own?, and b) how do I find a therapist that is more open a la Dan Savage in terms of the multitude of potential options for us vs the binary of staying as is or divorce. The last thing I need is a marriage therapist who only has a very narrow view of models for marriage. There’re so many out there and so little on their philosophy or approach to therapy. It’s like taking a bite of a random apple not knowing it it’ll be sweet or tart or mealy or crunchy. What I want is the honey crisp of the therapy world. In DC or NoVA preferably.”

28 Comment

  • Check out Freed Bodyworks, they have a ton of great services- including therapy/couples therapy

    • I second the Imago Center and Lena. She was recommended to me by a friend. My partner and I saw Lena for about a year and she was wonderful, open, honest and caring.

    • anonymouse_dianne

      I’m not familiar with this place, but I would recommend a therapist who is skilled in Imago. It helps you to understand what attracted you to the person in the first place, and understanding your differences as complimentary not antagonistic.

  • No recommendations as I personally had an awful experience in marriage counseling. But, I would suggest that if you want individual counseling, go to individual counseling, if you want a marriage counselor, go to a marriage counselor together, but do not combine the two. I have been told that a good marriage counselor will only see the couple together and individually as a product of this, versus individually and then together as a product of the individual counseling sessions. Also, from the way you framed your question, it sounds like the individual counseling needs to happen first, perhaps for both of you, as you decide whether you both want in, out, or something in between. If you don’t want in or your SO doesn’t want in, there’s no point.
    Good luck, ending a marriage isn’t easy.

    • This. Also, therapists tend to know each other, and if you click with your individual therapist there’s a pretty safe bet that s/he will be able to refer you to a couples’ counselor that s/he thinks could be appropriate for your issues. That’s been my experience, at least.

  • Mort Fertel, MarriageMax.com. check it out….

  • If applicable, start with your parish clergy for a referral. If not, seek help for yourself first. Self-care is OK not selfish.

  • Uh, maybe I am misreading, but is the OP specifically asking for a marriage counselor who would would view an “open” marriage as a viable tool/option?

    • That’s how I read it too. Basically, exploring it in therapy, talking about the risks and what not before making a decision to do it.

      • Oh, ok, I suppose only the “honey crisps” of the therapy world would be ok with discussing that.

        • ah

          I think HoneyCrisp apples are great, but I didn’t realize that says anything about open marriages.

          • Yes there are people who have poly-amorous marriages and are very happy. Just because that’s not your preference, be open-minded. There are therapists in this city who worknows with couples through that opening up process.

  • Michael Vigorito.


    He does marriage work along with his other sex work. He is open to poly, open relationships, etc.

    I’ve done therapy before. I’ve had “traditional” marriage therapy – it is SHITE. This guy is wonderful and really focused on giving you the tools to succeed. Please contact him!

    • I’ve had the traditional marriage therapy and clergy-led, both made me want to gouge my fucking eyes out. I just wanted to second your opinion!

  • Try thumbtack.com – you can post what kind of therapy you are looking for and in particular the kinds of options you are looking to discuss and the preferred philosophy/world view of the therapist. Professionalism will respond with a quote and often their particular take on therapy and you can choose from a range of options. I have found a great therapist this way and my mom is a therapist who uses the site and has connected with many clients there.

  • She is is the organic honeycrisp of therapists — Tandy Levine in Dupont Circle. She’s very expensive and worth every penny. Does individual, group therapy, couples counseling etc. You get what you pay for in therapists in terms of years of experience — she’s seen it all in her 25+ years.

  • I would encourage you to utilize two search tools (in addition to personal recommendations from the other commenters!) The Greater Washington Society of Clinical Social Workers and Psychology Today will have bios and info for therapists in the area.




  • Here’s a question the OP doesn’t address: how does your partner feel about opening it up? Because if s/he is against it, there’s your answer right there.

    • +1. It’s one thing if both parties want to open up the marriage, but if one party is enthusiastic and the other is reluctant, it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

  • I am a therapist and would like to recommend a former colleague, Tamara Pincus, who is a licensed therapist who specializes in nontraditional, open, and poly relationships. Best of luck OP.

  • +1 for Imago therapy, assuming both partners are in agreement about doing the work and committed to trying. Andy Ward in Bethesda is compassionate, an excellent coach and very helpful with practical advice.

  • northeazy

    Paul Ruffer. Licensed IMAGO therapist here in DC. I saw him individually and with previous partners (the other side has to want to attend too).

    As for Dan Savage, I believe he has a list of sex positive therapists in major metropolises that he shares upon request. I suggest go straight to the source and email him or search his archives.

    Good luck. If done properly, it is a very valuable experience no matter the final outcome.