Marriage counseling and online therapy aren’t just for married people. Many couples decide to seek marriage counseling before tying the knot. It also isn’t a treatment couples need when they’re in trouble. It’s a helpful tool to use proactively, before there’s a problem as well.
In any relationship, both partners want to be heard, loved, and accepted. However, most couples get caught in unproductive communication patterns, and end up feeling frustrated and disconnected. When that happens, couples usually blame the other person, not realizing that their intention is probably positive, but it’s not communicated well.
If you are interested in learning how to save a marriage, how to make a marriage work, or you are just going through a tough time in your relationship, marriage counseling allows couples to discuss their issues in a safe environment without reverting to old negative patterns of interacting. The therapist helps the couple to discover how those patterns happen and what they need to do in order to change them. The goal is to have a different outcome than the one they have at home – communicating in a more empathic way, learning how to listen to each other better, how to understand the real needs and desires of each other and how to bridge the gap between what you want to say and what your partner hears. Your marriage therapist will always intervene if the discussion is becoming disrespectful rather than insightful.
If you’ve decided that marriage counseling might be a positive next step in strengthening or repairing your relationship, you might have already done some of the homework and discovered that marriage counseling can be a bit pricey. After doing the math, you probably realized the months of therapy you would likely want to pursue amount to a few thousand dollars. You might also be wondering, is it really worth it?
The answer is yes. Marriage counseling is worth it, and it’s important to understand why it’s so expensive to help justify a major expense.
Taking action to keep your relationship or your marriage healthy and strong is the most valuable thing that you can do with your time and your money. Having a solid marriage will bring more joy and value to your life than a new car, or even a vacation. If your marriage is struggling, and the security of your family is threatened, good, quality marriage counseling can change the trajectory of your life. It can help you avoid the tragedy of divorce and the heartbreak of everything that goes along with it. It is an investment in everything that matters most.
Therapists need at least a master's degree, and many have a doctorate. These degrees require years of postgraduate study. In addition to extensive education, therapists must also complete clinical hours under supervision that they pay for on a weekly basis for a minimum of two years.
Beyond that, most therapists choose to attain additional training in a particular method of couples therapy. When you’re shopping around for a marriage counselor, it’s typical to inquire about credentials when choosing a professional counselor, and you shouldn’t feel awkward about wanting to know more about their background. Marriage therapists are highly educated and highly skilled, and their expertise is not, and should not be inexpensive.
Relationship dynamics are complex, and working with you both as a couple takes more time than you might be used to with individual therapy. The assessment process alone can take up to four sessions, including individual sessions for your couples therapist to get to know you separately. You also may have waited too long to get help and the problems can be bigger and more complicated by the time you finally make the call to find a therapist.
The sweet spot for an effective couples’ counseling session seems to be around 75–90 minutes. Things are usually hitting a pivotal time around 50–60 minutes, and stopping at this point is a challenge. It is best to tie up loose ends as much as possible in each session and this often requires more time with two people than it does with one. You’ll end up paying more, but remember that you’ll be getting more session time.
Unfortunately, a marriage therapy session does not have a billable diagnostic code for insurance, though some therapists will give one partner a diagnosis and bill for sessions under that client. You may be able to find a therapist willing to do this, but again, they may be a general therapist and not have specialized training to work with couples. Some therapists ethically wish to avoid labeling one of you when the problem being treated is a relational issue.
It might also be possible to have insurance cover your premarital counseling, marriage counseling, or relationship counseling sessions if one or both partners have a clinical diagnosis like depression.
Some marriage therapists and practices are in place to be able to meet you where you are financially, and offer you affordable sliding scale rates that fit in your budget. A sliding scale means that your rate per session is determined by your annual household income and the size of your family. Plus, in addition to private couples counseling and intimate relationship coaching, you can also look into groups and classes that can help you make real and lasting positive changes in your relationship for a fraction of the marriage counseling cost of working one-on-one with a relationship expert. It’s not only helpful to hear feedback from the facilitating counselor, but also to connect with other married couples in similar situations.
Reading highly recommended self-help books together can also be beneficial. This may only work for couples with minor or less complicated issues. Doing a workshop or group couples therapy session and reading self-help books can also possibly assist in shortening the time you need to be in relationship therapy.
People who say marriage counseling is “too expensive” and are reluctant to invest in repairing their relationship often wind up paying many times more to end it. Marriage counseling is not about the money. It's about the value that it brings to your life: Having a secure home-base of unconditional love in the center of your life, creating a warm, stable home for your children, and a lifetime of friendship and joy with your irreplaceable partner… is priceless.
For 90% of professional marriage counselors, one session equals one hour, so the hourly rate is also the per-session cost. Recent data says that most marriage counselors charge between $75 and $150 an hour on average.
Most counselors recommend at least three months of therapy (12 weeks) with one session per week. Some counselors will drop down to $50 an hour and others may go up to over $200 an hour, but $75-$150 is the average. Your couples counselor will probably use the first couple of sessions as an assessment of your current marriage problems. Then, they may recommend extra individual counseling or group sessions depending on what they learn from those first sessions.
So, the average cost of a marriage counseling session is ~$1,500 for 12 weeks of therapy, but it could end up being anything between $600 and $2,000+.
If the choice is between getting a divorce and seeing a marriage counselor, then you should always choose the latter. It’ll be cheaper, more enjoyable and more fulfilling. You’ll get the opportunity to learn more about yourself and more about your wife. Perhaps a better argument though, isn’t to focus on the benefits of marriage therapy, but rather on the terrible consequences of divorce:
As you can see, divorce should definitely be avoided if at all possible. Give it one more shot and go to couple’s counseling with your wife. It’ll be worth it if you can get back to the way things used to be. Even if divorce ends up being the result, marriage counseling can help you navigate the process with more love, respect, and understanding –– especially if there are children involved.
Although marriage therapy is costly, it is worth it. If you are not sure that it is right for you and your spouse, you both can always commit to an initial visit or try “discernment counseling” to explore if therapy is a good option for your relationship. Making the effort to find the best help you can afford or budgeting your money for this service is a smart idea. When you commit to counseling, give it your full, sincere effort and you will find it was a wise investment in your marriage.
Many couples blow through more money on one ineffective “rekindle the romance trip” they take in futile efforts to reconnect with each other than an entire course of marriage counseling would cost — hoping that things will get better and they won't need marriage counseling. Then they spend the whole time fighting, and then come home and call us to start marriage counseling. Save your money. Invest in effective help. Hold off on buying that new couch for just a couple of months, and invest in having a warm, loving home to put that couch in instead. Then when you're done with marriage counseling you can buy the couch and snuggle on it.
With Advekit, not only will you find affordable counseling options, but using our platforms is one of the best options when it comes to how to find a marriage counselor.