Are you not seeing eye-to-eye with your partner? Is there hot conflict or icy distance? Do you want your partner to change, but he or she wants you to change?

You may have tried to make your relationship better – and sometimes it works, but then you both revert back to your old ways. You discuss getting professional help, but it may not be easy to trust your relationship to a stranger. Your relationship with your therapist will be important, so how do you pick a good couples therapist? Here are some tips to consider:

1. Your therapist is proactive. Marital researchers have been able to identify behaviors and ways of interacting that can keep your relationship stable and happy. You can get the kind of relationship you’ve always wanted – with some key information and new skills. You can ask your therapist if you will get homework to practice between sessions – the answer should be “Yes.”

2. Your therapist holds you both accountable. My own clients have shared stories where their previous therapists blamed one partner for their problems, even berating them in session. In my years of working as a therapist, I have yet to find a couple where all their relationship problems are solely one partner’s fault. It is important to see how you both play a role in your relationship in order to move it forward.

3. Check their credentials & caseload. Ask specifically about coursework and certifications related to couples work. A Master’s degree in counseling doesn’t mean that your therapist received training in couples therapy. You can also ask what percentage of their caseload deals with couples – it should be at least 30 percent.

4. Shop around. Other factors such as personality, gender, age of the therapist or their cultural background may be important to you. If any of these will help you be more comfortable and open in sessions, then take them into consideration. Don’t be afraid to interview therapists or meet with them for one session until you find a good fit.

When your relationship is at stake, be picky. A good couples therapist can help you achieve your goals and make your relationship better than ever – it is possible.