How Much Is Couples Therapy?

Working On the Marriage | | , Editor-in-Chief
Updated On: February 13, 2024
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If you find yourself wondering, “How much is couples therapy and is it effective?”, then chances are you recognize the need for help. It is not uncommon for couples to feel stuck in their relationships. This happens when one or both partners feel unseen and unheard.

When you’re in a long-term relationship, a few tumultuous twists and turns along the way are to be expected. Sometimes the swerve from the happy, content connection is minor and manageable. At other times, it can bring you to a crossroads that can leave you second-guessing your compatibility as a couple and the future of your relationship.

It is in these circumstances that an experienced and trained professional can prove to be the catalyst you need to salvage your bond. Thanks to the growing access to affordable online counseling sessions, which in most cases can be availed of from the comfort of your homes, seeking help has become easier than ever before.

What Is Couples Therapy? 

World-renowned couples therapist and author of popular self-help books on marital desire, Mating In Captivity and The State of Affairs, Esther Perel writes in her blog, “Modern relationships are cauldrons of contradictory longings: safety and excitement, grounding and transcendence, the comfort of love and the heat of passion. We want it all, and we want it with one person.” Couples therapy, or couples psychotherapy focuses on these contradictory longings, often nestled in infidelity and desire, romantic relationship problems, and their resolution.

Typically, a licensed marriage counselor or a couples therapist works with a couple, helping them work through their differences, gain insight into their equation, and improve communication and the health of the relationship using a wide array of techniques and couples therapy exercises.

Though often used interchangeably, counseling and therapy imply different treatments. Marriage counseling is short-term, focused on resolving current relationship issues, and may not always require a clinical psychologist with a master’s degree. Thus, marriage counseling cost is often lower than couples therapy cost. However, these processes often overlap and may be done by the same professional. Therefore, who needs couples counseling sessions and who needs therapy are questions that only a licensed professional can answer.

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What happens during a couples therapy session?

The relationship counseling or therapy process begins with an interview in person at the therapist’s office. It comprises standard questions about your relationship history as well as the family and cultural background, values, and beliefs of each partner. Therapists often use a particular technique, like Emotionally Focused Therapy, to do this. This allows a marriage counselor or a therapist to make sense of the root cause of the relationship issue. If necessary, they may even resort to crisis intervention.

And what to expect in couples therapy after infidelity or financial cheating or built-up resentment? The kinds of interventions involved in the session vary, depending on the problem at hand as well as the therapist’s approach. However, a few elements of what happens in couples counseling remain universal:

Related Reading: 9 Proven Benefits Of Counseling – Don’t Suffer In Silence

  • Getting to the root of the issues: The mental health professional uncovers the underlying triggers for your relationship issues and focuses on a core problem. This can be anything ranging from infidelity to intimacy issues, jealousy, addictions, trust issues, and so on 
  • Establishing objectives: A licensed therapist can help you establish objectives early on. Not all couples therapy or marriage counseling is focused on helping couples work through their differences and stay together. You can also seek help to find ways to end a relationship in a healthy way or set boundaries for co-parenting after a divorce  
  • A couples therapy session is solution-centric: Working with a couples therapist gives you a solution-focused approach. Instead of going around in circles of blame game, you learn to find a direction in which you can move forward. This can be done through couples therapy exercises like writing a guided journal
  • Healthy change in dynamics: Interventions from the beginning of the marriage counseling process are aimed toward bringing about change in relationship dynamics and helping the couple get over their communication barriers
  • The sessions are a safe space: The focus here is on addressing the relationship issues and not ‘fixing’ the individuals in it. It’s a safe space where you can voice your concerns and relationship problems without fear of judgment
  • Expert insights: There’s active participation from the couples therapist in the form of insights, interjections, exercises, and suggestions
affordable couples counseling
Couples therapy helps you to bridge gaps in the relationship

How Much is Couples Therapy? 

How expensive is couples therapy? If you’ve pondered over the cost for marriage counseling and stopped yourself from seeking the necessary help due to a lack of affordable couples counseling avenues, know that you’re not alone. Economics is a huge governing factor in determining a couple’s decision to seek counseling.

With mortgages, debts, savings, and household expenditures to take care of, it is only natural for people to consider the “How much is couples therapy?” question when deciding whether to seek help or not. Couples therapy or any group therapy tends to be more expensive than individual therapy, as two people or more are seeking the treatment instead of one. Let’s address the cost variables that determine the answer to: How much is couples therapy?

1. Location and cost of living

How much is couples therapy per hour? In the US, most licensed therapists charge anywhere between $100–200 an hour for their sessions. Since couples counseling sessions typically last 90 minutes, each in-person session will cost you in the range of $150–300.

And how much is couples therapy on average in America? The city you live in also governs the cost. Let’s see: The relationship counseling cost for an in-person session can be 50 to 100% more in bigger cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Similarly, in smaller towns, you may be able to Google ‘therapy prices near me’ to find significantly lower couples therapy costs. You can avail a 90-minute in-person session with a therapist with similar qualifications and skill set for around $100 or less.

Related Reading: 11 Ways To Improve Communication In Relationships

2. Academic qualifications and expertise

How much does couples counseling cost when you add years of experience? Terrence Real is a therapist to Hollywood stars. His couples therapy cost per session is about $1,000, but he is said to reduce the resolution time substantially.

It does get difficult to find a couples therapist that suits your particular needs. The expertise and experience level of the professional help you choose but they also govern the cost. A licensed therapist with a master’s degree and an established practice will certainly charge you more than a marriage counselor or an associate therapist working for licensure under supervision. However, a cut in the marriage counseling cost, in this case, comes with less experience.

3. Complexity of the problem

Some marital problems may require multiple techniques, such as Emotionally Focused Therapy, and may not be within the scope of a marriage counselor. For instance, a couple may remain in therapy longer than the standard 10–12-week 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 cost of couples therapy.

4. Offline vs. online therapy

How much does couples counseling cost if you do it online instead of going in person to a professional? Therapists generally charge less for online sessions, as many partner with subscription platforms. With affordable online counseling on the rise, you can go to therapy virtually. There is a whole spectrum of highly trained therapists today, whom you can reach out to help online and begin low-cost counseling online and through phone calls or even chats.

5. Length of the session

As mentioned before, as a standard practice, most marriage and family therapists working with couples prefer to keep their counseling sessions 90 minutes long. This accords enough time to the marriage counselor to hear both sides of the story, diagnose the core issues, offer suggestions, and conduct workshops or exercises, like establishing rules for quality time to help you navigate your problems more effectively.

You may wonder: How often should you go to couples counseling? You will most definitely need more than one session to make progress with the help of couples counseling. The frequency is determined by the therapist, depending on the complexity of the 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 brings the cost of couples therapy to anywhere between $2,400–4,800.

Related Reading: 6 Couples’ Experiences On How Talk Therapy Helped Their Relationships

6. Sliding scale couples therapy

Some marriage and family therapists have sliding fees for couples who are struggling financially. Several charitable organizations, clinical social workers, college campuses, and public health clinics also provide counseling at discounted costs if you have a low household income. Some websites that provide marriage counseling also give their members discounts on the couples therapy cost (but you must sign up first). A few also offer self-guided couples therapy sessions that could be easier on your pocket.

Is couples counseling 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 borderline personality disorder, then the marriage counseling cost may be covered by the spouse’s insurance company. Some insurance companies are starting to provide some sort of coverage for couples relationship counseling. It’s always a good idea to check your insurance plans. Sometimes, it may be covered under your employer’s Employee Assistance Program. 

How much is couples therapy without insurance? It might get pretty expensive if you factor in your location, personal problems, and other variables. Even if you can find health insurance that can help those who need couples counseling, it may not be the most advisable course of action. For one, insurance providers make it mandatory for therapists to give a diagnosis. Thus, the partner whose insurance pays for couples therapy will have this diagnosis permanently on their health record. Some people care about this health disclosure and some shrug it off. Secondly, using insurance cover for counseling limits your choices drastically. An insurance company, that pays for couples therapy, will regulate the therapists as well as the type of session covered by health insurance, making the whole process less private.

low cost marriage counseling
Heal your bond, one session at a time

When you consider how much is couples therapy without insurance, you may want to consider other alternatives. A better alternative to insurance companies is to look for sliding scales couples therapy. In this model, household income and recurring expenditures are factored in to determine the billing for couples therapy. It allows you to access the right care and support without breaking the bank even if you choose in-person therapy sessions.

The rise of low-cost marriage counseling or couples therapy avenues in the present times gives you more financially viable options to seek necessary help. For instance, affordable online counseling services prove to be way more cost-effective. Bonobology offers 60-minute therapy sessions with trained and certified therapists which will bring down the cost for marriage counseling sessions in the range of $15 to 40. You can review our panel of consulting experts here.

Is Couples Therapy Worth It?

Does couple counseling work? Noted psychologist Dr. John Gottman, who pioneered the Gottman method in therapy, suggested in a study that the ‘we-ness’ of a couple determines its success against marital problems. Willingness to sustain the relationship can be a great factor in its survival. Therefore, willingness to try the intervention of an external party to save the relationship can be the first step that can save the relationship.

A study indicates that nearly 50% of couples have improved and more satisfying relationships for up to four years after undergoing counseling. Another 10 to 20% of couples find a way to co-exist even if they’re unhappy. So how is couples counseling effective, and what makes it worth it?

1. Couples therapy saves relationships and improves relationship satisfaction

People new to mental health conversations might ask: Is couples therapy worth it? There’s no denying that couples therapy can prove to be quite an investment in the long run. Given that seeing a marriage counselor proves effective in saving the relationship in 50% of the cases, it makes this professional intervention worth a try. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, counseling proves effective in reviving a relationship in nearly 75% of cases.

2. It makes the communication between two partners a lot better

Skilled marriage and family therapists can make this happen over time, by transferring their skills onto 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 family counseling. It enables them to spot troubling patterns, navigate them, and communicate better to express emotions and solve problems.

on complicated relationship

3. It strengthens mutual commitment 

Couples counseling isn’t just meant for partners or spouses grappling with issues in their relationship. It can also be a vital tool for people, who are at the threshold of marriage or a long-term committed relationship, to prevent conflict by learning the right communication techniques. That’s where premarital counseling, which is just another form of couples counseling, comes into play. 

4. Therapy for couples facilitates amicable separation

Does couples therapy work in bringing partners together every time? You might think, what is couples therapy but an attempt to rejuvenate the relationship between two individuals? But it’s important to understand that not all couples want the same things. Counseling does not guarantee a restored relationship 100% 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 loveless or 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.

Consider The Cost Of Not Seeking Couples Therapy

Considering seeking professional help to help your marriage and family can seem like a big step, mainly because it means acknowledging that there are problems beyond your control. Availing of counseling services is not a reflection of the state or future of your relationship. It does not mean that you’ve failed as a couple or that your relationship is beyond repair. Instead, it serves as a means to help romantic partners work through the problematic areas of their relationship that they may not be equipped to handle on their own. So, what could be the risks of not seeing a couples therapist? Let’s discuss the cost of NOT seeking professional help:

1. Cost of divorce

How much does therapy typically cost? A fraction of what you may pay for a divorce. Believe it or not, it’s true. The average cost of divorce in the US is between $15,000 and $20,000, according to Forbes. It may get worse and messier if there are disagreements about property ownership or child custody. The more contested the matter becomes between married couples, the higher the cost of the divorce. And couples therapy cost per session is often less than what lawyers charge for an hour.

Related Reading: 15 Signs Your Marriage Is On The Rocks And Almost Over

2. Cost of repeating your mistakes or starting over  

Starting over a relationship is difficult. One of the renowned marriage and family therapists and author of the popular self-help book, Us: Getting Past You and Me to Build a More Loving Relationship, Terrence Real says, “We all marry our unfinished business. We all marry our mothers and fathers. And in our closest relationships, we become our mothers and fathers.” Apart from suggesting that unhealthy relationships are often cyclical in nature, this sentence also reiterates that people are likely to make the same mistakes over and over again if they do not make a conscious effort to change their situation.

3. Cost of mental health and emotional toll

Staying in an unhappy relationship that might be heading toward a separation can lead to a feeling of perpetual emotional vulnerability. There are other negative effects of being in a tumultuous relationship. Studies suggest that 29% of people, either divorced or going through divorce, feel lonely after divorce. They may also feel depressed and have feelings of abandonment. 

how much does couples counseling cost
Cost of not seeking couples therapy

What is the success rate of couples counseling? Almost 75%. And how expensive is couples therapy? Judging by the emotional or the monetary toll that the dissolution of a relationship takes on people, and the success rate of couples therapy and professional help is any day a preferable investment of your time, money, and effort.

Key Pointers

  • Couples therapy helps improve communication and resolves conflicts between couples
  • Factors like location, the complexity of the case, and the experience of the professional determine the answer to: How much is couples therapy?
  • Is couples counseling covered by insurance? Mostly no. But you should check with your provider anyway
  • Multiple low-cost online counseling options are available now
  • There is empirical evidence to suggest that couples therapy is extremely beneficial in comparison to the ordeal of separation, divorce, and a broken home. Thus, couple therapy makes for a priceless proposition

How often should you go to couples counseling sessions? 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 deal with your relationship issues in a healthy way. It is vital to stick to your commitment when you feel like you’re not making any real progress, despite being in therapy. Even more so, in the initial stages. Working on issues that may have become chronic takes time, patience, and perseverance.

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