If you find yourself wondering how much is couples therapy and is it effective, chances are, on a subconscious level, you recognize the need for help. It is not uncommon for couples to feel stuck in their relationship. This happens when one or both partners feel unseen and unheard. A sense of aloofness begins to creep into the relationship.
When communication is hindered, a couple is caught in a vicious circle of same old arguments. The fights and tendency to say hurtful things to each other only worsens the problem. It signals to a brewing crisis – one that professional counseling can help mitigate.
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What Is Couples Therapy?
Couples therapy is a branch of psychotherapy that focuses on partners in romantic relationships. Typically, a licensed therapist works with a couple, helping them resolve their differences, gain insight into their equation and improve the health of the relationship using a wide array of techniques.
The kind of interventions involved varies, depending on the problem at hand as well as the therapist’s approach.
However, a few general elements remain universal to the concept:
- Focusing on a core problem. This can be anything ranging from infidelity to poor sex life, jealousy, addictions, trust issues, and so on.
- Establishing objectives early on.
- A solution-focused approach.
- Interventions from the beginning of the couples counseling process with an aim to bring about change in relationship dynamics.
- Treating the relationship and not individuals.
- Active participation from the therapist in the form of insights, interjections, exercises, and suggestions.
The process begins with an interview that comprises standard questions about your relationship history as well as family and cultural background, values, and beliefs of each partner. This allows a therapist to make sense of the root cause of the relationship issue. If necessary, they may even resort to crisis intervention from the first few sessions.
How a therapist approaches couples counselling?
Based on these insights and parameters, a therapist will create a structured plan for treatment. Throughout the treatment, the therapist will gradually draw your attention to dysfunctional elements of the relationship and each partner’s role in it. This sets the foundation for revamping perceptions vis-à-vis the relationship and each other.
While gaining insights is an important part of the process, the real goal of couples therapy is to effect change. That is also its biggest challenge. A skilled counselor can make this happen over time, by transferring their skills on to a couple’s day-to-day interactions without invading their private space.
A majority of couples report an improvement in the quality of their relationship after undergoing therapy. It enables them to spot troubling patterns, navigate them, and communicate better to express emotions and solve problems. A study indicates that nearly 50 per cent of couples have improved and more satisfying relationships for up to 4 years after undergoing counseling. Another 10 to 20 per cent of couples find a way to co-exist even if they’re unhappy.
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Types of counseling available
There is no set formula for couples counseling. A therapist often takes a call on the treatment pattern on a case-by-case basis. Following are the types of counseling available to couples working through there difference, and a therapist may use any one or a combination of these:
Here both partners attend the counseling sessions together. Both partners voice their perspectives on the relationships issues and hear each other out. The counsellor injects where necessary.
These sessions are followed up with home-based assignments and exercises aimed at fostering better communication and conflict resolution capabilities.
In some cases, couples therapy may also include individual therapy sessions. This is done when a therapist feels either one or both partners lacks the necessary communication skills to convey their point to the other.
The therapist then talks to both partners individually in a bid to understand their points of view, and then, acts as a neutral party to help the couple get over their communication barriers.
Family therapy comes into play when relationship issues extend beyond just the couple. Often, relationship issues can be a projection of one’s unresolved issues with one’s family or growing up in a dysfunctional family setup.
As a therapist uncovers these underlying issues, they may ask the concerned family members to get involved in the counselling process to address the root cause of the trouble.
Couples counseling isn’t just meant for partners or spouses grappling with issues in their relationship. It can also be a vital tool equip people at the threshold of marriage or a long-term committed relationship prevent conflict by learning the right communication techniques. That’s where premarital counseling comes into play.
Here principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy are used to help couples interact positively with their partners. The goal is to equip a couple with the right coping strategies and skills for critical decision making to tide through the myriad ups and downs of life.
Art therapy enables personal growth. It is a creative extension to the mainstream process of therapy. The key purpose is of this therapy technique is stress release. Colors, shapes, lines and textures are used as tools of expression in conjunction with routine therapy sessions.
This technique proves especially helpful in dealing with issues such as infidelity, parenting, behavioral problems and so on. Your artistic skill has no bearing on the outcome of this form of therapy.
This is also a cognitive-behavioral technique used to bring out the fears of both partners that unwittingly contribute to anxiety, stress, poor communication, and decision making. All of these negative forces can damage the fabric of a relationship. So the objective here is to eliminate them over time.
In exposure therapy, potential stressors are first identified and then introduced in a controlled environment.
Since the affected person is in control of the circumstances, it enables them to become immune to these stressors. This type of counselling is a good fit for people with intimacy concerns, dysfunctional family structures, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues.
Acceptance and commitment therapy
The objective of this form of therapy is simple – accepting your present circumstances and committing to making positive changes to improve the quality of life. Strategies from cognitive behavioral therapy are used to give the affected person a new perspective of their relationship as well as their personal circumstances.
Through this practice, couples learn new ways of looking at their life situation and become better equipped to handle their problems in the future.
Who needs couples counselling?
Every relationship has its share of rough patches. Then, how do you decide whether it is time to seek couples therapy? Considering seeking professional help to heal your relationship can seem like a big step, mainly because it means acknowledging that there are problems beyond your control.
This is also one of the reasons why a lot of couples keep putting off counseling until its too late.
If you’re unsure about whether you’ve reached that point where your issues cannot be addressed just by the two of you, learning who needs couples counselling will bring you some clarity.
Factors that determine the need for couples counselling
Here is a lowdown on instances where you must not put off seeking help:
- There are trust issues in the relationship. In most cases, this can be traced back to a history of infidelity – emotional or sexual. A partner’s compulsive tendency to lie can also be to blame. Or a lack of transparency about money leading to financial troubles could be a factor.
- Your arguments are becoming more frequent and severe. As a result, you and your partner feel like you’re walking on eggshells around each other.
- If you or your partner constantly feels ignored, misunderstood, or simply, unheard in the relationship, it points to a serious communication gap. Poor communication can lead to a host of issues in a relationship.
- You live with a nagging feeling that something is amiss in your relationship, yet can’t put a finger on it. Couples therapy can help you identify underlying issues or dysfunctional issues in a relationship and work on resolving them.
- You have a secret to share but you don’t know how to come clean to your partner. In this case, couples counseling can offer the necessary support you need to get it off your chest. The secret can be anything from cheating to something you haven’t told your partner about your past.
- If one or both partners start displaying dysfunctional tendencies during a conflict, then therapy is definitely worth considering. From silent treatment to lashing out, passive-aggressive tendencies and vengeful behavior, there are a lot of red flags that signal to dysfunctional ways of handling conflict.
Related Reading: Therapist’s Tips On How To Deal With Emotional Infidelity
How is it done?
The traditional ways of couples counselling have undergone a transformation, thanks to technological advancements and the growing reach of the internet. Today, these therapy sessions are done in two popular ways:
- Face-to-face counselling sessions: This is the good old-fashioned approach to counselling. You find a licensed therapist in your vicinity, based on whether their expertise is in line with your requirements. Book a session, and attend scheduled therapy sessions with your significant other in person.
- Online counselling sessions: A virtual extension of the traditional therapy approach, online counselling allows you to seek professional help without venturing out of your home. You can seek therapists online, and work with them via video calls, texts, chats or emails, depending on the platform they’re using.
This form of couples therapy is gaining momentum, as it offers you the cloak of anonymity and facilitates seeking the necessary help without the fear of stigma or prejudice – a factor that holds many a couple back from taking the leap into counseling.
At Bonobology, we have a panel of certified consulting therapists and counsellors who can help you get your relationship back. Don’t suffer in silence, help is only a click away.
How Much is Couples Therapy?
Economics are a huge governing factor in determining a couple’s decision to seek counselling. With mortgages, debts, savings, and household expenditure to take care of, it is only natural for people to consider how much is couples therapy when deciding whether to seek help or not. Let’s address the cost variables, keeping in mind that couples therapy can last anywhere from a few weeks to a year or more:
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How much does couples therapy typically cost?
Most licensed therapists charge anywhere between $100-200 an hour for their sessions. Since couples counselling sessions typically last 90 minutes, each session will cost you in the range of $150-300.
However, these figures may vary depending on your location. Besides, the expertise and experience level of the counselor you choose also governs the cost. The complexity of problems also plays a role in determining the cost of therapy.
For instance, a couple may remain in therapy longer than the standard 10-12 weeks period if there are deep-seated chronic issues at play. Or you may need to work with therapists with special skills and training if there are mental health issues involved. This translates to a higher fee.
Besides, the city you live in also governs how much is couples therapy going to cost you. In the US, the cost per session can be 50 to 100 per cent more in bigger cities such as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Similarly, in smaller towns, therapists with similar qualifications and skillsets may charge significantly less. You can avail a 90-minute session for around $100 or less.
Experience also plays a role. A licensed therapist with an established practice will certainly charge you more than one working for licensure under supervision. However, a cut in cost, in this case, comes with less experience.
How long is the session?
As mentioned before, as a standard practice, most therapists working with couples prefer to keep their sessions 90 minutes long. This accords enough time to hear both sides of the story, diagnose the core issues, offer suggestions, and conduct workshops or exercises to help you navigate through your problems more effectively.
How many sessions does one need to take?
You will most definitely need more than one session, to make progress with the help of couples counseling. How many sessions one needs to take is determined by the therapist, depending on the complexity of issues.
Generally, you need to attend a weekly session for at least three months – that’s 12 weeks of therapy – to see some real progress. This amounts to anywhere between $2,400 – 4,800.
Online counselling services prove to be more cost-effective. Bonobology offers 60-min therapy session with trained and certified therapists in the range of $15 to 40. You can review our panel of consulting experts, here.
Related Reading: 12 Characteristics Of A Successful Marriage
Is couples counselling covered by insurance?
Unfortunately, no. A majority of insurance companies do not cover couples therapy unless deemed as a medical necessity. For example, in case one of the partners suffers from a diagnosed mental disorder such as PTSD, bipolar disorder or anxiety disorder.
Even if you can find health insurance that covers couples counselling, it may not be the most advisable course of action. For one, insurance providers make it mandatory for therapists to give a diagnosis. This remains on your health record permanently. Secondly, using insurance cover for counseling limits your choices drastically. Insurance companies regulate the therapists as well as the type of session covered by health insurance.
The better alternative is to look for a therapist who offers sliding scale fees. In this model, household income and recurring expenditure are factored in to determine the per-session rate.
It allows you to access the right care and support with breaking the bank if you chose in-person therapy sessions.
How often should you go to couples counseling?
If you’re determined to save your relationship and resolve your differences, you should keep going back to therapy. Keep at it until your therapist feels that you’re well-equipped to go it alone.
It is most vital to stick to your commitment when you feel like you’re not making any real progress, despite being in therapy. Even more so, at the initial stages. Working at issues that may have become chronic takes time, patience, and perseverance.
Is couples therapy worth it?
There’s no denying that couples therapy can prove to be quite an investment in the long run. This often raises the question – is couples therapy worth it?
Given that it proves effective in saving the relationship in 50 per cent of the cases, makes it worth a try. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, counseling proves effective in improving relationship satisfaction in nearly 75 per cent of the cases.
These odds make couples therapy a priceless proposition. Especially in comparison to the ordeal of separation, divorce, and a broken home.
Judging by the emotional or the monetary toll that dissolution of a relationship takes on people, couples’ therapy is any day a preferable investment of your time, money, and effort.
However, counseling does not guarantee a restored relationship of 100 per cent of the time. In some cases, therapy makes couples realize that their differences are irreconcilable, making them choose to end the relationship. If you’re caught in a toxic equation with your partner, this may prove to be a blessing in disguise in the long run. Even if this wasn’t the outcome you had hoped for.