October 28, 2023

Benefits of Premarital Counseling with Rev. Calli

Therapist talking to couple in couples therapy session


Is premarital counseling even helpful? This is what we cover in the twelfth and final episode of the  Getting Ready for Marriage series. ​In this podcast episode, Elizabeth Polinsky interviews Erica Callicutt, or Reverend Calli, on the benefits of premarital counseling. 


  • Benefits of premarital couples counseling
  • The process of premarital counseling 
  • What to expect from working with a pastor versus a counselor for premarital counseling
  • How to find a premarital counselor ​
couple holding hands

Why I am doing this series on Getting Ready for Marriage?

I had a wedding photographer reach out to me asking me to provide some tips for couples getting married. I created an entire checklist for her with the things I think are foundational for getting ready for marriage and starting off your marriage on the right foot. If you want the checklist, you can download it here!

Introduction to Reverend Calli

Reverend Calli is a licensed and ordained minister who has previously worked as a hospital chaplain. So as a chaplain she served in a level one trauma center as well as worked with veterans through the V A. hospital.  She is also a wedding officiant which has allowed her to journey with couples on their way to marriage and even before marriage, to strengthen their relational skills and communication skills. At the time of the recording, she was also in a graduate program for social work with hopes of becoming a licensed clinical social worker. 

Liz’s personal experience with premarital counseling

My husband and I used military one source for our permarital counseling. Military OneSource a free resource that is provided to Military families where they can get 12 sessions of free counseling a year. And so we did that for premarital counseling and we had a really horrible experience, which is so unfortunate. I think especially for military couples, Military OneSource is pushed as your resource for counseling and premarital counseling. We were pretty appalled though. The person really didn’t work with couples; they worked with foster kids. They never even asked us if we had any concerns about our relationship. Then the moment I brought it up the concerns I had about getting married,  the counselor said, “oh, I can’t help you” then fired us as a couple. I was not happy with the quality of services I got with Military OneSource, but I also  know I have a strong bias against it because we had a negative experience. I’m sure other people have more positive experiences.But part of what I wanted people to know for this episode, are that there are better options out there. So I’m glad we’re going to talk about premarital counseling. 

Have a sense of expectation… if you don’t know what you are  looking for, then you may be easily disappointed”

Rev. Calli.

Questions to discuss with your partner beforehand

  • What do we want out of premarital counseling? 
  • ​What do we want form our therapist?
  • What goals to we have? 

People should have expectations of who they are working with and they should have high standards. And it’s ok if you don’t click with the person..find someone else”

Elizabeth Polinsky

Benefits to premarital counseling

If you allow yourself to be open to the process, there can be a lot of benefits. 

  1. It’s a great preventative measure. You can decrease the risk of divorce by developing more relationship skills and tools when they run into issues and concerns in their relationship. 
  2. Assessing the state of the relationship such as relationship strengths and weaknesses. 
  3. You can maximize the strengths you already have. Empower you based on the things you do well together. 
  4. Learn skills to develop stronger communication skills. 
  5. Develop great listening skills so you can communicate better. 
  6. Helping couples getting unstuck in their communication. 
  7. Cultivating empathy, understanding, and a safe place.
  8. Building a deeper connection with your partner. When there is more emotional intimacy that is when physical intimacy is truly organic. 

We have to start with listening. With listening come empathy.” — Reverend Calli

Process of premarital counseling

  1. Relationship assessment
  2. Developing goals
  3. Therapist helps create a safe place
  4. Building on strengths
  5. Addressing challenges
  6. Learning tools
  7. Practicing skills and tools in a safe environment 
  8. End counseling
couple counseling

Signs of a good therapist or premarital counselor

  • They do an assessment of your relationship. 
  • They ask you your goals. 
  • They help create a safe environment to work on things.
  • They stay neutral and don’t take sides. 
  • They are using a specific method that is suppose to help you, and can explain why they are doing what they are doing. 
  • Note: Make sure they have training and experience to assist you with your specific concerns. 

Differences between working with a pastor vs. a therapist

  • Pastors may add in more of a spiritual perspective. 
  • Pastors may start and end sessions with prayer. 
  • Pastors help also create a spiritual foundation.
  • Pastors may reference scriptures as you work on tools.  
  • Pastors may include their spouse to co-counsel with them. 
  • Pastors make connect you with another couple to act as a marriage mentor. 
  • There are licensed therapists who do christian based counseling and pastoral counseling in conjunction to mental health/ clinical services.

Places to look for a premarital counseling

Working with Reverend Calli

You can work with Reverend Calli for premarital counseling or wedding services.

Liz’s Useful Links: 

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Thanks for Listening!


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    About Author

    Elizabeth Polinsky is a Certified Emotionally Focused Couple Therapist (EFT) providing EFT marriage counseling in the states of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Nevada. She also provides EFT training and supervision to therapists looking to become certified in EFT Couple Therapy. As a military spouse, she has a special passion for working with military and veteran couples, and is also the host of The Communicate & Connect Podcast for Military Relationships.


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