Your relationship is in a rut, and things are getting tough. You don’t want to throw in the towel just yet, but it’s clear you need some outside help. Is couples counseling worth it? Does couples therapy work? Are there online therapy options?
It’s becoming increasingly common and accepted for couples to seek out professional relationship advice and support–even when it comes to figuring out how to know when your marriage is over. Whether that comes from self-help books, couples retreats, workshops, or getting advice from friends and family, couple’s therapy is often in the mix. Couples therapy is a great option for relationships that need to work through deep-seated relationship or marital problems, in-person, with the help of a professional. Couples therapy, like individual therapy, can be a long process that requires a decent amount of emotional vulnerability over the course of multiple sessions. And, while couples therapy is very effective and is sometimes one of the keys to a happy marriage, it’s unfortunately not a viable option for every couple. Couples therapy tends to be quite expensive.
This is for a couple of reasons. Firstly, couple’s therapy is treating two people, not just one. Secondly, the nature of problems that bring people to the couch of a couples therapist are not the kind of issues that can be hashed out in one couples therapy session, meaning that you and your partner will have to commit time and money to relationship counseling that could end up being long-term. A third-party mediator like a couples counselor can offer a much-needed new perspective, but that can get expensive. Given that economic hardship is one of the leading stressors in American life, you probably want to know what kind of investment it’s going to take to get professional help.
But, don’t let the price tag of couples therapy deter you from going.
Take cost out of the equation. Before you even end up on the couch, it’s important to know if you and your partner actually need help. There are many misconceptions about this type of therapy, so doing your research is essential to finding both the right program and therapist for you. One common myth is that couples counseling should only ever be used when a relationship is close to the breaking point. This is untrue! Couples therapy can be helpful no matter where a relationship stands.
In fact, for most couples that seek counseling, it is not fighting that causes the most problems; it’s the lack of communication. Even though you know one another quite well, miscommunications tend to happen no matter what. This especially applies to relationships where one person may not understand their partner’s social cues. It’s ok, these can easily be learned in couples therapy.
If you and your partner have really been at each other’s throats for quite some time, moving into a phase of not talking meaningfully at all can feel like a relief, but it could be a sign that you’ve both given up on being understood. Without counseling, this type of disconnect can often lead to divorce unnecessarily.
Miscommunication within intimate relationships can lead to a variety of unresolved issues. Attending therapy equips couples with better decision making skills to improve how they communicate with each other. Clients are often given different responses when asked, "What's your communication style?” Couples may be surprised that they've actually been saying the same thing all along with improved communication strategies.
There are several other reasons for couples to seek couples counseling besides conflict. Among them are lack of sex, a trauma, a feeling of panic anytime there is marital discord, an overwhelming amount of drama, a lack of happiness or control, and the experience of parenthood. Or,it could simply be that no matter how hard partners try to solve a problem, it cannot be resolved without outside help.
Getting counseling early, before the drama sets in, will help you create a successful partnership long-term.
In a nationwide survey, the average couples counseling cost ranged from $50 per hour to $250 per hour. While the majority of the couples counseling sessions last one hour, some may be longer or shorter, with the cost adjusted by the hour. Therefore, if a therapy session is two hours and the counselor charges $50 per hour, you will be paying $100. Make sure you discuss this with your counselor first because many people think the cost is per counseling session when it is actually per hour. Some counselors may offer a discount if you sign up for a package deal for 6-12 weeks of counseling at about $400 to $2500.
Counseling sessions typically happen once a week, which can add up to roughly an additional cost of $500 to $1,000 each month. If money is already a stressor in the relationship, the extra cost can seem like adding salt to the wound. After all, counseling isn’t a foolproof method, and it doesn’t guarantee “happily ever after.” Just like investing in the stock market, investing in couples counseling is a gamble. It may save your relationship or it may not. However, the investment in knowing that you tried to cultivate a healthy relationship, regardless of the outcome, might be worth it to you.
According to the American Psychological Association emotion focused therapy has shown to be 75% effective in improving couple relations.
Though, as long as both partners are open to being honest and giving couples therapy a fair shot, it’s absolutely worth it. Moreover, both people need to be willing to not just show up, but also willing to do the work and implement changes — individually and as a couple — to make your relationship work.
In addition to willingness, timing is an essential component to the success of your sessions. The sooner you go to counseling, the better. Years and years of resentment or lingering anger over past transgressions can erode your trust and intimacy. The average couple waits a whopping six years before seeking help with an unhappy relationship.
If you’re at the beginning stages of friction, or are just looking to preemptively correct some common miscommunication patterns, you may have a better shot at salvaging your relationship. However, this doesn’t mean that you’re automatically doomed if you’ve been unhappy for seven years. It just means that you have more work to do.
Only you can decide whether couples counseling is worth the effort, time, and cost to save your relationship. If you decide it might not be, and you’re legally married, it’s important to carefully weigh the cost of divorce. It may be the right option, but divorce may come at a high price — certainly more than the cost of couples counseling.
If the cost of couples counseling feels prohibitive, consider ways to make it more affordable. Check whether your health insurance covers couples counseling. There’s a good chance it might. And if they do, you can find a counselor who takes your insurance, thereby reducing the cost.
Unfortunately, the majority of insurance companies do not cover couples counseling, specifically. However, it is becoming more common for major insurance providers to offer some type of coverage for couples relationship therapy. Check with your insurance provider to see if your insurance policy covers all or any part of your costs for counseling. Sometimes it can apply to individual coverage. Also, in some cases, if you or your partner has a medically diagnosed mental illness, you may be able to get part or all of the cost reimbursed to you.
If your insurance doesn’t cover counseling, look into local schools that may have counselors-in-training who work under a licensed professional. This can offer huge cost savings. You can also see whether your local church or community center has any classes or counseling services available at a low cost.
If you've decided to take the next step and enter casual or intensive couples counseling, the next step is to find a couple’s therapist you can afford. There are a few different licensed therapist types you can see for couple’s therapy.
Clinical Social Workers (CSWs) operate using the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Clinical social work involves diagnosing, treating, and preventing mental illnesses and behavior related issues. Licensed Clinical Social Workers (CSWs) apply the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to private practice sessions in offices and online. Social workers focus on helping clients (including couples) to develop better communication and coping skills. Some of the best couples have participated in sessions with a life coach or CSW to repair damaged relationships.
A clinical psychologist may help with relationships in couple's therapy, too. Particularly, if there is a mental health problem that is holding the couple back. A clinical psychologist can be a great resource for couples who are experiencing relationship issues due to one or the other partner having issues with mental health. They can provide individual therapy and couples therapy for couples in an office setting or online.
These therapists specialize in treating patients and clients that are experiencing the negative effects of common mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.
Marriage and family therapists are a highly experienced group of practitioners, with an average of 13 years of clinical practice in the field of marriage and family therapy. They evaluate and treat mental and emotional disorders, other health and behavioral problems, and address a wide array of relationship problems within the context of the family system.
Marriage and family therapists regularly practice short-term therapy; 12 sessions on average. Nearly 65.6% of the cases are completed within 20 sessions, 87.9% within 50 sessions. Marital/couples therapy (11.5 sessions) and family therapy (9 sessions) both require less time than the average individual treatment (13 sessions). About half of the treatment provided by marriage and family therapists is one-on-one, with the other half divided between marital/couple and family therapy, or a combination of treatments.
Though couples counseling isn’t cheap, it could be a worthwhile investment if you want to heal your relationship. There are no guarantees, but it may help a great deal. Regardless, it’s important to look at the cost of couples counseling and evaluate how it would fit into your overall budget. Try to remember: A successful round of therapy has a far better return on investment than a divorce.
Advekit is a therapist network that can help match you with a couples therapist, while also assisting in navigating insurance policy information to make sure you’re getting the lowest rate possible for every session.