How Much Does Marriage Counseling Cost?

Marriage counseling is a great way to create a safe and comfortable space for partners in which they can express their feelings, thoughts, needs, and wants. Especially for newly-married couples, it is not uncommon to be shaken by the real world and bring stress into the marriage. The problem occurs when this stress grows so great that partners start to disagree on small issues over and over, causing unhealthy conflicts in their relationship. At this point, asking family and friends to help will just stir things up more since people tend to take the side of the person they are closest to, leading to even more conflict.

A professional marriage counselor does not take sides in therapy and helps couples find solutions to their problems to recreate a sense of peace in their marriage. Acting as mediators, marriage counselors help couples discuss and overcome the barriers in their marriage.

Are you feeling lost in your marriage? Do you have the same arguments over and over, struggling to communicate clearly while hurting each other?

Every married couple runs into obstacles in their relationship. Some couples overcome these problems more easily, while others need a little push. If you want to find a way out of  the problems that have arisen in your marriage, consider that this might be the perfect time to seek help from a professional marriage counselor.

A good professional will help you work through the problems and build a satisfying relationship you both love. In your marriage counseling sessions, you will learn how to

  • Understand your needs and wants.
  • Express your thoughts.
  • Learn different ways to communicate.
  • Learn to listen and really hear each other.
  • Learn healthy ways to resolve conflicts in your marriage.
  • Improve intimacy and reconnect as partners.
  • Find more in common and share more moments together.

Determining the Cost of Marriage Counseling

First of all, you need to remember that you will need more than one session. Marriage counselors usually recommend that married couples come in consistenly for at least 3 months. Furthermore, costs vary based on a variety of factors.

Costs vary based on location.

It is worth keeping in mind that the cost will vary based on your location. The best way to find out how much marriage counselors charge in your state is to Google “marriage counselors near me” =and check out the prices.

Costs vary based on experience.

Costs also vary based on the credentials and experience of your marriage counselor. For example, the higher education level a marriage counselor has reached and the more years of experience they have, the more they will typically charge. Counselors who are licensed will charge more, while others who are still working towards gaining their license, under the supervision of a licensed counselor, often charge less. It can be also cheaper to see a counselor who is still earning hours towards licensure, but they will have less experience. It is very important when choosing a marriage counselor to ask about their credentials and their experience.

Is the cost really worth it?

Without the help of marriage counselors, many couples who are struggling end up eventually turning to divorce. Apart from the obvious emotional costs, marriage counseling incurs fewer expenses than a divorce. The average cost of a divorce in America ranges from $15,000 to $30,000, depending on what is involved. When you compare the costs of the two, they don’t even come close.

So, how do you know if marriage counseling is worth the investment? First, marriage counseling costs vary across the country. As we discussed, couples counseling can range anywhere from $80 to $275 per session, depending on the level of training and experience of your therapist. Listed below are the fees for therapy services at Relationship Counseling Group:

Services                                                                                  Price

60-minute couple or individual session                                  $100

90-minute couple or individual session                                  $150

120-minute couple or individual session                                $200

60-minute family (3 or more people) and group session        $150

90-minute family (3 or more people) and group session        $225

Now let’s look at the cost of couples therapy from a different angle. The average cost of divorce in the state of North Carolina is roughly $13,100. This may include attorney fees, the cost of maintaining separate households, child support, and childcare, and the list goes on. Many couples make the decision to invest in couples therapy when it is already too late, meaning one or both partners in the relationship have mentally and emotionally “checked-out” of the relationship. Divorce often feels like the only option for couples experiencing trust issues, infidelity, or exhaustion from trying to make the relationship work. However, choosing to invest in your relationship early on through trusted couples counseling can prevent an expensive divorce in the future.

Let’s suppose you and your partner decide to invest in couples counseling early on when you notice an increase in arguments and a decrease in relationship satisfaction. As a couple, you decide to invest in weekly 60-minute sessions priced at $100 per session. Your total at the end of treatment will be $1,000, compared to the $13,100 average cost of divorce in North Carolina.

The short-term cost of couples therapy is priceless if it means saving the future of your marriage or committed relationship.

Questions to Answer Before Seeking a Professional Marriage Counselor

Is marriage counseling covered by insurance companies?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Insurance companies will cover the cost of marriage counseling only when one or both  partners are diagnosed with a mental health disorder. That means that most of the time, you’ll end up paying for marriage counseling out of your own pocket. But, don’t let this stop you from seeking counseling; we’ll discuss possible solutions in just a minute.

Why does marriage counseling take longer than individual therapy?

Relationships are complicated and their dynamics are complex. Marriage counseling takes longer than individual therapy. The assessment process alone can sometimes take up to three sessions. In addition, if you waited until the last minute to get help, the problems may have grown much bigger and more complicated, requiring a longer time in therapy to resolve.

Is marriage counseling worth it?

There is no way to guarantee that marriage counseling works every single time. Looking at the numbers, you can see that the chances are high, but keep in mind that marriage counseling is not just about the money. It’s about reliving the love and care within your relationship and bringing those positive emotions back into your lives. Compared to what money can buy, there is nothing that will bring you the same happiness that a healthy relationship can provide. Investing in counseling to keep your relationship healthy and strong can be priceless.

Is there a less expensive alternative?

Like we already discussed, higher prices usually dictate higher qualifications, more experience, and potentially more of a chance for successful therapy. That said, for many married couples with already huge expenses, financial issues can cause a tremendous amount of stress and tension. Many who seek marriage counseling turn away when they see the costs.

Be open with your prospective counselor. Not all marriage counselors are in it for the money, and if you explain that you are seriously interested in counseling, some may even negotiate their fees.

You can also look into government-funded mental health centers, which usually offer discounted or even free counseling services. If you are near a university or counseling training center, you can also look into your options there. Professionals who work under supervision will definitely charge less.

Another option is online marriage counseling. Without the costs of human resourcing and renting an office, online marriage counselors can offer counseling at much lower costs than counselors who offer their services in person, especially with the recent surge in telehealth offerings.

Finally, if you are struggling financially, you may be able to find a counselor with sliding fees, or take part in group therapy.

Not doing anything means the biggest loss.

You’re at risk for a lot of losses when you decide not to see a marriage counselor. First, there are the costs of divorce. The average cost of a divorce is $13,000, and that doesn’t include the legal fees or other assets you might lose, like your car, house, savings, and more. It also doesn’t include the divorce’s effects on the emotional and mental health of everyone involved, including your kids.

What is your marriage worth to you?

When it comes to marriage counseling, timing is important. It can be the difference between saving your marriage and walking away. Even if there is no guarantee of saving your marriage, it is to your advantage to invest in it. Marriage counseling is worth the cost, whether you are trying to save your marriage, or you just want to strengthen your relationship.

Are there are any other options?

Although marriage counseling can be costly in general, it is always less expensive than the alternatives, so it is undoubtedly worth it. If you are not sure if it’s right for you and your partner, you can always just commit to a first visit. Making the effort to find the help your marriage needs is a good idea. When you commit to marriage counseling, be sincere and truthful, and you will come to see that counseling is a profitable investment for your marriage. Maintaining a loving and caring marriage is not easy. It takes hard work and patience. Committing to an initial marriage counseling session is the first step to restoring the marriage or committed relationship you love.

When Will Marriage Counseling Not Work?

Every year, thousands of couples go to counseling in an effort to save their marriage. In many cases, the strategies use in counseling, such as listening and communication, will help couples in the short term, but in some cases, they can be insufficient. It is also possible that a counselor lacks the skills and knowledge to work with couples who have serious problems in their marriage. Failing to understand the reasons for conflict and the resulting inability to move toward a resolution will force counselors to let the partners take turns talking week after week, with no end to the therapy, or to slowly lead them to divorce.

Although marriage counseling has proven effective for many couples, there are times when marriage counseling may not be your best option. Marriage counseling is not recommended for couples struggling with domestic violence or for those who are already “checked out” of the relationship. Couples struggling with active domestic violence are often recommended to attend individual therapy prior to engaging in couples therapy to ensure the safety of both individuals.

If one or both partners has “checked out” of the relationship, it is not likely that marriage counseling will be effective. It is important that both partners are on the same page and are committed to making positive changes in their marriage or relationship in order to see positive results.

Couples who are going through major problems and not getting along believe that marriage counseling is the way to go. While it’s not a bad idea to try marriage counseling, there are some times where it just won’t work. Let’s discuss some of these scenarios.

“Marriage counseling is just not working for us.”

People think that by just attending counseling, they will fix their marriage. Sessions will not automatically fix your problems and will not erase your past. Counseling will not magically bring you closer to your partner. Marriage counseling is just a tool that will help you better understand the roles you and your partner play in the relationship. Furthermore, mistakes and misconceptions around marriage counselingcan cost your marriage. For example:

1. Sessions are not going to do the work for you.

Marriage counseling is not going to magically erase the past or fix any problems with little or no effort from you. Marriage counseling will provide you with the tools to help you communicate better, but you and your partner also must put in the necessary work between sessions. Keep in mind that these changes take time and practice and you need to invest in trying the new things you learn about in your sessions and be willing to make the effort.

2. Often, individual therapy is the best place to start.

Sometimes, individuals’ problems may be so serious that they affect the couple’s relationship. There are cases where a partner’s mental disorder is causing frustration in the marriage, while in other cases, trust issues from both partners shake the foundations of the relationship. Whatever the case, in times like these, individual therapy should be the first step.

3. Maybe you just haven’t found the right marriage counselor.

It is not uncommon that, the first counselor you visit will not be a perfect fit for you and your partner. The marriage counselor who fits your needs should make you both feel comfortable, feel seen and heard, and will assist you as per your specific needs. If your counselor is not meeting your needs, it is okay to find someone else. Therapy should work for you.

4. You are only there to tell your side of the story.

Marriage counseling should provide a safe space for both partners to express their thoughts and feelings. For marriage counseling to succeed, partners should understand that it is important to take turns expressing their thoughts. If a person is not there to listen to their partner’s thoughts, needs, feelings, and concerns, they may not find a way to help their relationship. Both partners need to be willing to listen and understand each other. Finally, understand that a counselor will not take anyone’s side, so you are not there to prove a point or win the case.

5.  The purpose is not to change your partner to be the way you want.

In many cases, people enter marriage counseling because they feel that it will change their partner. In marriage counseling, you can only control yourself. Neither you nor a professional can force your partner to change. Instead of investing in counseling to try and change your partner, invest by acknowledging your behaviors in the relationship and pursue how you want to change to better your marriage.

6. Partners go into counseling with different agendas.

Marriage counseling will not work when the two partners have different agendas. For example, if one partner is more committed to doing the necessary work than the other is, then counseling is not going to work. If any of the partners is not completely honest, it’s not going to work, either. If one partner commits to counseling with the goal of  divorce, then it is destined to fail. To make things work, both partners need to engage in counseling with the mindset that this process requires equal commitment and effort from both sides to succeed.

7. There is emptiness between the two of you.

When there are no emotions left, it is hard for any professional to revive the passion. Sometimes, when there really is no love left, partners need to make the hard decision to go their separate ways. Only then can healing be achieved.

Every situation is different, so it is important to do whatever suits your situation. If you still have questions or concerns, read on to have a look at more issues that can affect the success of marriage counseling:

An Abusive Marriage

Marriage takes time and effort to work. If one partner is abusive, marriage counseling is not the solution you need. Don’t waste your time; seek help from your loved ones to get out of your abusive marriage.

Substance Abuse

Addiction can have physical and psychological effects on individuals but can also have devastating effects on a marriage. The partner who suffers from addiction often denies being the problem in the relationship. Substance abuse puts a lot of pressure on the marriage and often leads to distancing and isolation. Furthermore, substance abuse frequently leads to financial issues, which, in turn, will put even more strain on the marriage.

No Trust

Trust is fundamental to all relationships, especially marriage. If the trust is broken in a marriage, the relationship will also break. Sometimes, trust can be repaired, but most of the time, it requires belief and effort from both people. For example, one person must be willing to take responsibility, and the other person has to be willing to forgive.

Bad Habits

People who display problematic behaviors in their marriage, such as contempt and disrespect, can cause resentment and anger on both sides. Those who put in the effort to change these habits and employ healthy communication and understanding can fix their marriage. Couples who can’t or won’t will see their marriage end in divorce.

More Bad Memories Than Good

Happily married couples display their happiest moments around their home. On their anniversaries, partners reminisce about all the good times they have had together over the years. Partners who remember more bad times than happy ones will fall apart. In addition to lack of trust or willingness to change from the couple in therapy, there are mistakes that counselors can make that can impact the effectiveness of marriage counseling.

Mistakes Marriage Counselors Make

  • Lack of Structure

The most common mistake made by counselors is providing too little structure. Some counselors allow sessions to generate a lot of negativity, which leads to zero change. Partners will interrupt each other and talk over each other while the counselor loses control. Finally, the counselor loses hope and ends counseling, while the partners lose hope in turn.

  • No Plan for Change

Counselors may play it safe by neglecting to recommend changes to the couple’s day-to-day life. Good counselors will give out homework, while a bad counselor doesn’t pursue change.

  • Thinking All Couples Are Equal

Counselors who believe that all couples are the same will not be able to meet their needs, and are doomed to fail. It is a fact that all couples are different. For example, married couples with children have different dynamics than married couples without children. Inexperienced counselors may apply the same or similar treatment plans to all their clients. Failing to meet a couple’s unique needs will cause counseling to fail.

  • Making Things Complicated

A marriage counselor who fails to explain things in a simple way that’s easy to understand will make repairing the relationship seem more difficult than it really is.

  • Choosing Sides

Resolving issues and healing a wounded marriage requires objectivity on the part of the counselor. Good marriage counselors understand that unconditional positive regard for both partners is of the utmost importance. Bad counselors may take sides and favor one partner over the other during counseling, which can be destructive to the marriage.

Does that mean that marriage counseling fails all the time?

A wide range of issues can be worked out through counseling, especially if you feel like you have the same arguments over and over again, you feel isolated, or if sex and intimacy are just not there anymore. But it also won’t work if one or both partners are not genuinely committed to the counseling process. Healing the wounds in your marriage and improving your relationship is a slow process, but it doesn’t have to go on forever. Marriage counseling is a healthy way to work through problems in your marriage; you just need to truly want to be an active part of it. If you don’t see your marriage reflected in any of the above situations, then with hard work and commitment, there is hope.

How Long Does Marriage Counseling Last?

Before we start talking about how long marriage counseling lasts, we need to understand a few things about marriage counseling. If you are considering marriage counseling but are unsure whether it will work, you are not alone. There are many questions you may have, but let’s address the most common questions regarding marriage counseling.

Why are so many people still skeptical about marriage counseling?

Understandably, many people who are skeptical about marriage counseling worry about its effectiveness. It is a fact that before the 1980s, most methods used in marriage counseling had limited success. The average success was about 50% and counseling taught useful skills like how to listen and understand each other. The good news is that with new methods, marriage counseling is now over 75 percent effectiveness, according to statistics from the American Psychological Association. But what about other 25 percent? Married couples in abusive relationships should not expect improvements from counseling until the abuse ends. At that time, separate therapy sessions for each partner are ideal in order to work toward self-control and safety. Furthermore, specific types of marriage counseling requiring secure attachment are not recommended for couples in the process of separating.

How can a couple improve their chances of success?

Marriage counseling is most likely to be successful when the two partners are willing to learn the skills and become more self-aware, as well as emotionally vulnerable and understanding of each other. Many people have difficulty distinguishing emotions from thoughts; however, communication skills can be learned with a little bit of effort. Another important thing to increase your chances of success is that you and your partner stop seeing each other as opponents, but rather as teammates working to improve your relationship. Another important factor in successful marriage counseling is empathy. Both of you need to have empathy and feel for your  partner to be able to understand their emotions and vulnerabilities.

Finally, another prerequisite is for partners to be willing to work on the part they play in the relationship’s problems and the process of healing their marriage. Many couples come to marriage counseling with a list of complaints about their partner, expecting the counselor to validate their complaints. Although, most of the time, these complaints are valid, nothing can be resolved unless both individuals commit to working on their own behavior.

How long does marriage counseling take?

The length of marriage counseling can vary based on the counselor’s choice of treatment model, as well as the strength of the couple’s commitment to therapy. Some couples can get what they need in as little as 4 to 6 sessions. There are often couples who need just a little push to improve communication, meet common goals, or solve day-to-day problems centered around parenting, responsibilities, and so on. Sometimes, married couples face more complicated problems or there are other issues that require longer-term therapy.

At Relationship Counseling Group, our clinicians use a variety of evidence-based models, including the Gottman Method and Emotional Focus Therapy (EFT) to assist clients in meeting their goals. Your commitment to therapy contributes to the overall success of marriage therapy. Weekly sessions are recommended, especially early on in treatment, so that both partners can learn new skills and implement them in everyday practice. Some couples may prefer biweekly or even monthly sessions, though this often means much slower progress. It is imperative that couples seek marriage counseling sooner rather than later, as timing is essential when it comes to solving persistent problems in your relationship.

Increasing Recovery Speed

Many couples wonder how long marriage counseling takes to work. The best marriage counseling is strategic and focused on helping a married couple reach their goals. Without plans and goals in mind, marriage counseling can turn into an opportunity for partners to bash each other instead of treating their problems. It is also important to find a good marriage counselor who uses evidence-based models of marriage counseling to ensure that couples are hitting their milestones. 

Speeding Up Sessions

In terms of counseling sessions, couples usually start out by attending sessions weekly, then every other week as they start making positive changes and focus putting the things they discuss in sessions into practice. Sometimes, even after successful counseling, couples still like to schedule periodic sessions focused on maintaining the quality of their marriage.

Factors That Affect Time in Counseling

Sometimes, over the course of marriage counseling, partners find that part of the problem affecting their marriage is that one or both partners may be struggling with more serious issues. For example, substance abuse and mental health illnesses can have a major impact on a marriage. In these cases, it is necessary to have longer-term counseling for marriage, as well as individual therapy for each partner.

Partners’ learning styles are also a factor that affects how long marriage counseling will take. For example, partners who consistently take an active part in sessions, complete their homework, and follow through on the things that are discussed into therapy are typically going to need less time to repair their marriage.

Willingness and commitment to the process are also important. Partners who are committed to attending weekly sessions will move through the process faster. It’s like doing private tutoring or going to the gym. When you do things consistently and frequently, you will see greater results. This makes it important for couples to make counseling sessions their priority.

The healing process will be enhanced when both partners are truthful about what they want. If one participant is ambivalent about their goals, it will create discomfort and eventually diminish their hopes for success. If there is ambivalence or even a slight doubt, this must be resolved before committing to marriage counseling. This will increase your chances of success and will reduce the overall time involved in marriage counseling.

Fact Sheet

  • High levels of satisfaction.

According to a survey by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, families and couples who have attended family or couples counseling sessions indicate high levels of satisfaction. Over 98 percent of those who took part in the survey reported that they received good or excellent couples counseling, and over 97 percent of them said they got the help they needed. After working with a marriage or family counselor, 93 percent of couples said that they had more effective tools for dealing with their problems.

  • Marriage counseling takes less time than individual therapy.

Statistics show that most of the time, couples or family counseling is faster and more effective than individual therapy alone. When married couples go to marriage counseling together, they work faster and more effectively on their group dynamic, which in turn helps them to heal faster. Typically, it takes fewer sessions to reach your goals in marriage counseling than it does in individual therapy. This means that not only do you repair your marriage faster, but you will also pay less for the benefits.

  • Working with a licensed marriage counselor is often cheaper than seeing a psychologist or a psychiatrist.

While searching for options, many couples feel stressed about the financial cost. Worrying about your counseling bill can put an extra strain on your already shaken relationship that can eventually lead to worse consequences. Many people who are looking at prices may decide to turn to a more budget-friendly solution such as inexperienced psychiatrists and psychologists. Keep in mind that if you look hard, you will surely find a professional who offers reasonable rates. If you choose a licensed marriage counselor, you will definitely pay less in the long run than if you opted for an inexperienced psychiatrist or psychologist.

  • Marriage counseling is not magic and may still not be able to prevent a divorce.

When people hear the phrase “marriage counseling,” they tend to think that it is a magic solution that will automatically save their marriage. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In cases of milder relationship problems, marriage counseling will work by repairing the marriage, but in some other cases, marriage counseling works by helping partners understand that staying together in an unhealthy relationship is detrimental and that the only solution is to end their marriage for the sake of both parties’ mental wellbeing.

  • Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is the most successful type of marriage counseling.

There is no magic trick to repair your marriage, but there are few types of marriage counseling that are proven to have great success. One of the most successful types of therapy is called Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), and it works by helping couples understand and reprogram their emotional responses, leading partners to better understand and communicate with each other.

  • The sooner you start marriage counseling, the better.

Another factor that reduces the time you will need for successful counseling is how soon you commit to starting marriage counseling. Couples who wait until their problems have piled up or people who have already given up on their marriage may struggle to repair their relationships. For better chances at success and getting back the fulfilling marriage you once had, couples should seek counseling as soon as possible.

References:

Gottman, J. & Silver, N. (1999, 2015). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. Random House, LLC: New York.

Hahlweg K, Klann N. The effectiveness of marital counseling in Germany: a contribution to health services research. J Fam Psychol. 1997; 11:410–421.

Johnson, S., & Hunsley, J., & Greenberg, L., & Schindler, D. (1999). Emotionally focused couples therapy: status and challenges. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, V6 N1, 70-73.

Lundblad, A. M., & Hansson, K. (2006). Couples therapy: effectiveness of treatment and long‐term follow‐up. Journal of family therapy, 28(2), 136-152.