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.

What Is Premarital Counseling and How Does It Help?

93% of Americans today believe that a healthy marriage is one of the most important things in life. Research shows that couples who attend counseling have a 30% better chance of enjoying a successful and healthy marriage. Also, meta-analytic reviews suggest that premarital education programs are generally effective in producing immediate and short-term gains in interpersonal skills and overall relationship quality (Carroll & Doherty, 2004). Finally, a meta-analytic study found that premarital education programs appear to be effective at improving a couple’s communication (Fawcett et al., 2010).

Many people believe that counseling is only for couples who are actively experiencing problems in their marriage or committed relationship. However, premarital counseling is a type of therapy that helps couples prepare for marriage. Premarital counseling can help ensure that you and your partner are equipped with the tools necessary to have a successful and satisfying marriage. During premarital counseling, you may discuss topics including, but not limited to, finances, conflict resolution strategies, and communication skills to prepare both partners for their commitment to one another and the relationship.

What Exactly Is Premarital Counseling?

Premarital counseling is a specialized form of therapy that helps couples prepare for marriage. By undertaking premarital counseling before the wedding, you and your partner have the chance to build a healthy relationship that will provide a strong foundation for your union. Premarital counseling can help couples of any gender, race, or religion address their expectations and concerns about their marriage.

Who Can Benefit From Premarital Counseling?

Many people assume that counseling is only for people with problems or for couples in crisis. This is far from the truth. Participating in premarital counseling helps you and your partner learn how to identify issues and handle problems that may arise at some point in your marital life.

Therefore, premarital counseling is highly recommended for couples who are engaged and aiming to get married. Premarital counseling is a form of family therapy designed to help couples stay connected during difficult times. This type of counseling offers partners a variety of tools and strategies to resolve conflicts.

Issues Addressed in Premarital Counseling

Let’s talk about common topics and issues addressed in premarital counseling.

Conflict resolution: Premarital counseling addresses the ways each partner resolves conflicts and how you can improve your ability to compromise on issues where you disagree.

Communication: You will discuss communication with your partner and address any adaptive or maladaptive methods of communication you may have.

Expectations: Premarital counseling encourages each partner to discuss their expectations for each other and the marriage so you can work toward finding ways to compromise. Furthermore, it helps partners understand what constitutes a successful marriage.

Values and needs: Research has shown that partners with similar values and needs have a better chance of staying together. Counseling addresses this important factor and helps partners acknowledge their values, personal beliefs, and needs.

Finances: Premarital counseling also addresses financial issues. Are you able to discuss your financial problems? Partners often avoid discussing sensitive topics like money, especially when one of the partners is overspending. This can create conflict, so a premarital counselor will address issues like this and assist you resolve them as a couple.

Family: Do both partners want to have children? If not, are both partners aware of this? If you both want kids, how many does each partner want? When is it time to start a family? These and many other issues regarding families are addressed in counseling.

Intimacy and sex: Are you and your partner comfortable or uncomfortable discussing sex? Do you both feel intimate? What does each of you expect in terms of a sexual relationship? In a successful marriage, couples can talk freely and honestly about sex, so premarital counseling raises these sensitive topics and explores each partner’s limits.

The Goals of Premarital Counseling

Premarital counseling examines your relationship in an objective manner and helps you learn how to interact in a healthy and productive way. Premarital counseling also addresses cultural issues and how they affect the relationship. It examines how personal values and beliefs or family history affect how each partner perceives the relationship and behaves during everyday life, and how cultural differences might cause crises in the relationship. Counseling will help you identify your differences and develop methods to manage them successfully.

Address and Eliminate Dysfunctional Behaviors

Premarital counseling helps couples identify and eliminate dysfunctional behaviors, such as control issues, addiction, and dependency.

Improve Communication

Good communication is the secret ingredient for a healthy marriage. Premarital counseling helps couples learn effective ways of communication, letting you and your partner express your thoughts and feelings openly, in a healthy, supportive, and safe relationship.

Identify Couples’ Strengths

Premarital counseling can help partners identify the positive aspects of their relationship and their overall strengths. Understanding of the stronger aspects of your relationship and acknowledging the positive parts will help you build resilience and a stronger foundation upon which to maintain a healthy marriage.

Eliminate Emotional Breaks, Isolation, and Avoidance

Many couples have difficulty expressing their feelings, so they end up avoiding each other. This type of avoidance will eventually lead to serious problems in the relationship. Premarital counseling will assist you in learning how to openly express your feelings in a way that brings you closer together rather than leading to further avoidance behavior and, in the end, isolation.

The Benefits of Premarital Counseling

Premarital counseling offers many benefits to ensure your marriage will be stable and happy, which is obviously the main benefit of counseling before marriage.

Another important benefit is that it helps couples develop and strengthen the skills that are necessary for resolving conflicts in a marriage and maintaining a healthy relationship. You and your partner may have different ideas of what it means to be happy. By discussing this beforehand, you can set common goals to work toward together.

Also, premarital counseling helps partners identify any possible issues that could negatively impact  their marriage later on, giving you the opportunity to discuss your wants, needs, and expectations before marriage. With the help of a counselor, you can work to cope with your differences.

No matter how much a couple love each other, they may still have some anxiety over the thought of a lifelong commitment. Counseling can help partners deal with this anxiety by giving them the opportunity to deal with possible causes for anxiety and work through them.

Finally, couples often approach their marriage with fears about the longevity of their relationship. Premarital counseling can help you identify and confront your fears about forming and maintaining a healthy marriage.

Understanding the Aspects of Premarital Counseling

Education, Expertise, and Experience

Couples seeking premarital counseling should accept services only from specialized and certified professionals who hold the required education and experience. A premarital counselor needs to have specific knowledge and expertise, so couples should be careful when choosing a counselor.

Confidentiality

All professionals are obliged to protect their clients’ information, so couples should expect that the counselor they choose will explain their right to confidentiality at the outset of therapy. Counselors should also explain when they may need to disclose some specific information, for example, to authorities.

Types of Premarital Counseling

There are different types of premarital counseling depending on your personality or your background. Choosing the right type of premarital counseling will increase its chance of effectiveness and ensure that you will benefit from the experience as much as possible.

Online Premarital Counseling Sessions

For couples who would prefer to receive counseling in the comfort of their own home, online premarital counseling will bring them closer to achieving their marriage-related goals in privacy and comfort. Online premarital counseling may include online counseling and self-guided sessions, among other methods.

One-on-One Premarital Counseling

This is the most traditional and commonly-used method of counseling. Premarital counselors conduct face-to-face sessions and help couples tackle their issues and develop the appropriate tools to resolve any future problems in their marriage.

Group Sessions and Open Discussion

While group sessions don’t focus solely on one couple, they can be a valuable experience. Group sessions can be used by couples for engaging purposes and to elicit helpful discussions that will teach them different perspectives and ideas. Couples will have the opportunity to learn how others deal with problems and how others maintain a happy marriage. Couples should keep in mind that privacy is at risk here, due to participation of other people.

Give yourselves the chance to build a strong foundation.

You and your partner need to understand that committing to each other can be challenging. You may find yourselves facing and discussing issues that you would rather ignore, but facing and resolving these issues is how you and your partner grow in your relationship. Don’t try to ignore issues in your relationship, and never isolate yourself from your partner. You and your partner are allies in life. Banish the idea that there are winners and losers in a relationship. You are both equals in your partnership, and you have 50-50 stakes in whatever makes you happy or shakes your relationship. Take advantage of the time you spend with a counselor to create a safe zone that you will nourished for years to come to build a healthy, trusting, and loving relationship with your spouse.

References:

Carroll, Jason & Doherty, William. (2004). Evaluating the Effectiveness of Premarital Prevention Programs: A Meta‐Analytic Review of Outcome Research. Family Relations. 52. 105 – 118. 10.1111/j.1741-3729.2003.00105.x.

Fawcett, Elizabeth & Hawkins, Alan & Blanchard, Victoria & Carroll, Jason. (2010). Do Premarital Education Programs Really Work? A Meta-analytic Study. Family Relations – FAM RELAT. 59. 232-239. 10.1111/j.1741-3729.2010.00598.x.

Is Marriage Counseling Covered by Health Insurance?

Marriage counseling is not one specific approach that fits all couples. Therefore, if your requirements are different, the costs  may be different, too. Many counselors charge a fixed cost for all couples, while others charge based on a couple’s household income. It is not cheap to undergo marriage counseling, especially if long-term counseling is needed, but in general, therapy is less expensive than a divorce.

What is the average cost of marriage counseling?

First, how much does marriage counseling cost on average? Some professionals charge one session as one hour, so the hourly cost is also the cost per session. Others offer complete packages and bill accordingly. Marriage counseling can range anywhere from $80 to $275 per session, depending on your therapist’s level of training and experience. Most marriage counselors recommend at least 10 sessions (1 per week) and will most likely use the first couple of sessions to assess your marriage and the problems that concern you. Then, they will design a custom-made plan for you and your partner, depending on what they learned from the initial sessions. Therefore, the average cost of marriage counseling is $1,000 for 10 weeks of therapy, but could end up being anywhere between $800 and over $2,750.

Is marriage counseling covered by health insurance?

Most couples who seek marriage counseling are concerned whether their health insurance will cover it. Many couples would like to go through marriage counseling, but are worried about the cost and hope that their health insurance will cover it so they can get the help they need. Being able to use your insurance to cover the costs can make marriage counseling much more accessible and is preferable when dealing with your marital problems. Unfortunately, the answer is no. Insurance companies will not cover the cost of your marriage counselor unless at least one of the spouses is suffering from a mental health disorder. That means, in order for your health insurance to pay for your marriage counseling, either you or your partner need to have a diagnosable mental illness. Furthermore, your marriage counselor has an ethical commitment to resolve the symptoms of the diagnosed spouse, not focus on improving your marriage.

That means that the therapist will view one of you as the “identified patient” or “sick partner” and will help that person get “better.” Sometimes, when there are mental health issues involved, relationships do suffer, but generally, therapy aimed at a mental health disorder is not what most couples want when they seek marriage counseling. Furthermore, most therapists who bill health insurance companies are specialized in treating individuals with mental illnesses and are not licensed or trained to be marriage counselors. So, while you’ll have your bill paid by your health insurance company, your therapy would be focused on one of you, not on treating your marriage; otherwise, your counselor would be at risk of committing insurance fraud.

Basically, keeping all the above aspects in mind, someone could use their health insurance to cover the costs of therapy. However, most couples are not looking for disorder-focused treatment, but for marriage counseling that will strengthen or repair their relationship. They want to learn new ways to communicate, enhance their emotional connection, improve their intimacy, and strengthen their bond.

5 Disadvantages of Having Your Health Insurance Cover Your Marriage Counseling

  • Finding a specialized marriage counselor through health insurance.

Accessing therapy through health insurance requires one of the partners to be diagnosed with a mental illness, and therefore, that therapy will be focused on treating them. Therefore, therapy will be focused on the individual and their problem instead on the marriage and the problems you really want to solve. These professionals specialize in pathology and therapy for mental health disorders, and thus, you are less likely to find a professional who is a licensed marriage counselor and knows how to properly treat your marital problems in a focused way.

  • Your medical record will show a diagnosed mental health disorder.

Covering the costs of marriage counseling sounds good, but the truth is that if you have a mental health disorder on your medical record, you may face issues in your professional life, especially if you are a high-level professional like a pilot, a law enforcement officer, or a doctor. In fact, a University of Illinois study revealed that half of Fortune 500 corporations admitted to using employee medical records in making employment decisions, 20 percent of which did not inform the employee. Don’t let your mental health record shape your future for the sake of paying for marriage counseling.

  • Confidentiality issues and concerns.

Did you know that therapists and counselors can share the information discussed in therapy sessions with insurance companies? Would you be okay with him or her sharing intimate information about your marriage, like your problems with sex, affairs, and so on? You’re probably thinking, “No!” That’s another reason couples should not use health insurance to cover their therapy; counselors who are working with insurance companies often have to disclose confidential information about what is being discussed in the sessions when they submit their billable notes. This can end up being problematic and can feel invasive for most couples, since marriage counseling explores sensitive topics such as affairs, substance use, and sexuality, to name just a few.

  • Labeling one partner as the “sick” or “problematic” person.

When a couple is undergoing therapy under the terms of their health insurance, there is a risk that one of the spouses will be labeled as the “problematic” partner and the one responsible for the problems in their marriage. Furthermore, it may affect the other partner’s will and commitment to do their part in therapy to repair the relationship.

  • Insurance limits the number of sessions you can attend.

Using health insurance to pay for marriage counseling places one important limitation: you have a specific number of sessions that you can enjoy with one counselor. Many couples require long-term therapy because of the nature of their problems, but their marriage counseling may have to end too soon because they have a limited number of sessions available through their insurance company. Counseling takes time to treat a marriage, therefore, short-term sessions may not work and won’t be worth your time and effort.

You get what you pay for. The same applies to therapy.

We all get excited when we think we can use our insurance benefits for freebies, but unfortunately, this means that many couples have to settle for any therapist who is able to see them. Too many of these so-called therapists have no training or experience as marriage counselors, yet they accept couples for treatment. When couples trust these therapists to fix their relationship, they may not see the life-changing results they were hoping for. In the end, while worrying about the cost of marriage counseling, these couples often end up worrying about the financial consequences of divorce, instead. Consider whether marriage counseling through your health insurance is really worth it. Here are some tips to help you with your decision:

  • Read the contract thoroughly. Most people do not read their contracts because they seem too lengthy and technical, but it is important to read the contract thoroughly to understand your rights and obligations and to understand how insurance works. If you’re having difficulty understanding the terms, ask your insurance company to clarify the contract.
  • Consider the costs of marriage counseling versus the expenses of a divorce. The costs can vary depending on which counselor you see and what treatment program you choose. Marriage counseling is cheaper and healthier in the long run. Divorces end up traumatizing the spouses and kids and incur expenses like monthly child support and alimony. Gathering information from both counselors and lawyers will definitely help you choose where to invest your money.

Is marriage counseling worth the cost if you are the one paying?

If you are teetering between getting a divorce or treating your marriage through marriage counseling, go with counseling. Marriage counseling is always cheaper and much more emotionally fulfilling. You will get the opportunity to learn about yourselves as a couple and become better partners. Let’s look at the cost of couples therapy from a different angle. The average cost of a divorce in the state of North Carolina is roughly $13,100. This includes attorney fees, the cost of maintaining separate households, childcare, and the list goes on. You will have to fight over your house, your cars, and your savings and other belongings. On top of all that is the emotional trauma placed on your kids—and we still haven’t mentioned about alimony or child support.

As you can see, divorce should be avoided unless your safety is at risk. Even if you are about to give up, give it one more chance and go to marriage counseling with your partner. It will be worth it if you can get things back on track.

Let’s say you and your partner decide to invest in marriage counseling. You are looking to invest in weekly 60-minute sessions priced at $100 per session. At the end of treatment, your total will be $1,000, compared to the thousands of dollars involved in the average divorce. Regardless of whether your health insurance does or does not cover marriage counseling, you should still consider the other options open to you. Talk with professionals from both fields (both marriage counselors and lawyers) and weigh your options. Getting your relationship back is the most valuable payoff of all.

References:

APA Practice Organization; Coding and Billing Guidelines (2020, June 21). Retrieved from https://downloads.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/lcd_attachments/30489_8/L30489_PSYCH014_cbg_070110.pdf

Many companies fail to protect confidential employee data (2020, June 21). Retrieved from https://www.epic.org/privacy/workplace/linowesPR.html

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). (2020, June 21). Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/cciio/programs-and-initiatives/other-insurance-protections/mhpaea_factsheet.html