Marriage counseling helps couples work toward improving their relationship. Marriage counseling can help any couple who wants to create or maintain a strong relationship. It can last anywhere from 8-30+ sessions depending on the issues you would like to address. Marriage counseling cost can vary from $75-$250/hour depending on several factors, but averages around $100 per session.
What Is Marriage Counseling?
Marriage counseling (also called couples counseling or relationship counseling) is geared toward helping couples build a stronger relationship with their significant other. This can include strengthening their friendship, learning to manage conflict in the relationship, improving intimacy, healing from infidelity or other betrayals, or figuring out whether or not to stay in the relationship. It’s often provided by marriage and family therapists, psychologists, social workers, or licensed counselors.
How Much Is Couples Therapy?
While the cost of marriage counseling varies widely, in the United States, the average cost is about $100 per session. However, rates may range anywhere between $75-$250/hour.1
Is Marriage Counseling Covered by Insurance?
Most insurance companies do not cover marriage counseling. In most cases, insurance covers treatment of a mental health diagnosis, but marriage problems aren’t considered mental health illnesses. That said, there are exceptions to this rule, so it is always a good idea to call your insurance company and ask if they will reimburse.
If your insurance says they don’t cover marriage counseling but a therapist says they can bill your insurance, inquire more because this means the therapist may have diagnosed (or plans to diagnose) either you or your partner with a mental or behavior disorder, like depression or anxiety.
Average Cost of Marriage Counseling
Couples, marriage, and family counseling may have different names, but they are usually billed in similar ways. Because of this, the same pricing structures will exist. The average cost of marriage counseling will be around $100 with the range being anywhere between $75 and $250.
Batch Paying for Multiple Therapy Sessions
Some therapists require you to pay per session while others will offer a discount if you pay for a certain number of sessions up front. If you are willing to pay up front, this could be a way to save some money on the expense.
What Influences the Cost of Marriage Counseling?
The cost of marriage counseling will depend on several factors, including length of sessions, location, therapist qualifications, and type of therapy (in-person or telehealth):
Location: How Marriage Counseling Cost Varies by State & Region
The price of couples counseling varies by state and generally will cost more in larger, more populated cities where the cost of living is higher. For example, marriage counseling in New York City costs on average $150-$250+ for a one-hour session. In Denver, marriage counseling costs between $100-$200 per hour on average. Other states/cities may charge less if the cost of living is lower.2
To find out the average cost of marriage counseling in your location, perform a Google search for “couples counseling near me” and review their pricing. This will give you a better idea of the range you can expect in your particular location.
Qualifications & Experience: Who Provides the Relationship Counseling
The second factor in the price of couples counseling will be the level of training and expertise the therapist has obtained. Couples therapy may not be their area of specialty, although they may have some experience. In this case, the therapist will most likely be on the lower end of the price range.
Alternatively, other therapists have obtained a higher level of training and even certification in a particular modality of couples therapy and recognize themselves as couples therapy experts. Couples therapy will often be their specialty and they will have had a lot of experience treating couples. These therapists will be on the higher end of the cost per session.
The type of degree the therapist holds will also impact the cost. You may pay more to see a psychologist versus a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), or licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC).
Format of Therapy: Online vs. In-Person Marriage Counseling
Online therapy may or may not be more cost effective. If you’re going to see a provider in a private practice that offers the same services online, most won’t change the price because they’re charging for their time and expertise, which remains the same. If you utilize an online couples counseling provider the cost may end up being lower, depending on the number of sessions you have per month.
Length of Therapy Sessions
When searching for a marriage counselor, ask about the length of their couples therapy sessions. Session duration can range in length from 45 to 90 minutes (60-75 minutes is the standard). If a therapist charges $100/hour but their sessions are 90 minutes, you will be paying $150/session. Most therapists will make this clear in their paperwork and/or initial call, but it is always best to be sure.
What Issues You Need to Address
Generally, therapists do not charge different rates for different issues, but they could charge more if more intensive or specialized treatments are involved. For example, if treatment requires specific trauma-based elements, the fee could grow.
Why Does Couples Counseling Cost So Much?
Couples counseling can be expensive because couples therapists are highly educated and often have a specialization in couples therapy. In other words, they have done additional training following the completion of their degree. Also, couples therapy is usually more expensive than individual therapy because there are two people receiving treatment. Both partners will benefit and grow from the work done as a couple.
Affordable Marriage Counseling Options
If you’re seeking marriage counseling but don’t have the funds to pay, inquire about a sliding scale fee, as 68% of private practice marriage and family therapists reduce fees based on a person’s ability to pay.1 You could also seek counseling from a couples therapy intern. They won’t have the same level of expertise but most will have up-to-date training and be supervised by an experienced therapist.
Another option is to find grant-funded university or public health clinics that offer free or low cost marriage counseling. If you go this route, it is still important to make sure the therapist you see is fully trained as a couples therapist.3
Think of Marriage Counseling as an Investment
Whether you’re struggling to heal from an affair, having difficulty navigating conflict, or seeking to grow closer, couples therapy can be very effective. Recent studies have also shown that couples therapy positively impacts 70% of couples receiving treatment.6 So, while there is no guarantee, the majority of couples will benefit.
Statistics show that people in loving, committed relationships are happier and healthier than those who aren’t.4 Plus, the cost of divorce is often higher than the cost of couples therapy, so it may end up saving you money in the long run.5
The most important thing when preparing for couples counseling is making sure you’re both fully invested in the process.
What to Expect From Couples Counseling
Each experience with couples counseling will be unique, but there are some themes that commonly need attention during a stint of couples counseling. Some possibilities include:
- Open and assertive communication
- Active listening skills
- Managing nonverbal communication
- Conflict resolution skills
- Establishing and enforcing healthy boundaries
- Building strong relationships outside of the marriage
- Increasing positive interactions
- Understanding and empathy building
Some marriages will need a range of skills, while others will need specific focus on just a few.
Benefits of Marriage Counseling
“One of the greatest benefits of marriage counseling is that it allows couples to exist in a unique space where an experienced third party can witness areas for growth and help facilitate movement toward it,” says Dr. Elyssa Helfer, Ph.D., LMFT, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist. “While there may be rumors that marriage counseling is only for relationships on the verge of breaking up or amidst significant conflict, it can actually be beneficial at all points throughout a relationship. What is so special about finding an excellent marriage counselor is that it opens up the possibility of taking an already wonderful relationship to new levels of connection, love, and intimacy.”
Helfer continues, “Marriage counseling can also open the door to healing previous emotional wounds that have accumulated throughout the course of a relationship and can put a stop to the seemingly endless cycles of conflict. The arguments that happen over and over again may finally come to an end as this type of therapy teaches couples an entirely new way of interacting that honors both of their pasts, experiences, desires, and needs.”7
Cons of Marriage Counseling
Helfer also cautions, “One of the major drawbacks of marriage counseling is that it can be incredibly challenging. Committing to digging deep into the emotional injuries in a relationship can be painful, and there is no guarantee that the desired changes will actually occur. Relationships can sometimes end as a result of attending couples counseling, not because a therapist would encourage a break-up, but because our darkness often comes to light in a therapeutic space, and upon seeing those truths, some couples find that the damage is irreparable.”7
How to Find the Right Marriage Counselor
If you’re ready to find the right couples counselor for your relationship, you can search for providers using an online therapist directory. Doing a little research on different types of couples therapy can help you narrow down your search and find a provider who is trained in a method that speaks to you.
You can also find a provider through a referral from a friend, colleague, family member, or doctor. Once you have several referral options, call and inquire about their services, fees, availability, and modality. This will give you a better sense of their compatibility for you and your partner.
What to Do If You Can’t Find Someone Local
If you are struggling to find a local marriage counselor, don’t worry. Some options if you can’t find a marriage counselor include:
- Consult with friends
- Call your insurance company
- Connect with local mental health agencies
- Ask your primary care doctor
- Complete an online directory search
- Use an online couples counseling platform
Is Online Couples Counseling Effective?
Recent findings show that online couples counseling is as helpful as in-person options. Both treatments help improve a couple’s satisfaction within the relationship. Online or face-to-face, couples counseling is an effective treatment for struggling relationships.8
Final Thoughts on Marriage Counseling Cost
Marriage counseling prices can become expensive, but if taken seriously, it can help you and your partner build the relationship you both want and deserve. There is nothing more fulfilling than feeling connected and secure. Ultimately, an investment in couples counseling for your relationship is an investment worth making.
For Further Reading
- Check out our review of the Lasting App for couples
- Ready to do some work on yourself? See which will be a better fit: Talkspace vs BetterHelp
- See what a little mindfulness can bring to your relationship with the Headspace or Calm app
- Best Marriage Books