How does Marriage Counseling Work?
Marriage counseling is also called couple therapy, relationship therapy, or marital therapy. In this form of treatment, both partners usually meet together with the therapist. Marriage counseling can help committed couples (married or not) to communicate more effectively, resolve conflicts without verbal or physical violence, and live more happily together.
In marriage counseling, each person's point of view is respected. The therapist makes every effort not to take sides, but rather to help the couple understand one another better. Marriage counseling can help each individual learn what the other person may be willing to change, and what they may need to accept. The couple may learn how to negotiate difficult issues, how to compromise, and how to understand a problem from another point of view.
Often, marriage counseling can save a marriage. Sometimes, it becomes a way to end a relationship with as little pain and as much self-respect as possible.
How Much Does Marriage Counseling Cost?
A single (45 minute) marriage counseling session costs the same as an individual therapy session. In most cases, if you have mental health coverage, your health insurance will cover marriage counseling. Each session is billed to one partner's insurance as a "family therapy" session, while the couple is responsible for a single co-pay fee. For more information about our fee scale, please see the "Fees" section of this website.
How Do We Know if We Need Marriage Counseling?
Many couples wait until a relationship has serious problems, such as extramarital affairs or violence, or even until they are on the brink of divorce, before they think of trying marriage counseling. Although counseling can still be of help, we strongly suggest that you consider marriage counseling before you reach this stage! When arguments seem to go nowhere, when feelings are frequently being hurt, or when the distance between you just seems to be growing these can be signs that it may be time to try marriage counseling.
A difficult relationship can often be the trigger for anxiety, depression, substance abuse, or other serious mental health problems. And marriage counseling can help relieve these symptoms, even where individual treatment has not been of much help.
What About Sexual Problems?
Therapists who treat couples almost always have training and experience in sex therapy. Some specialize in this area, and may be certified as sex therapists. The most common sexual problems include loss of sexual desire, and difficulty with arousal or erections. Most couple therapists can offer suggestions and approaches that can help improve these difficulties. For more information, please see the page on Sex Therapy in this website.
What Marriage Counseling is NOT
Marriage counseling is not the same as mediation, arbitration, or legal advice. Marriage counseling is not a way to "fix" your partner without having to change your own behavior at all. Marriage counseling is not a guarantee that your marriage will get back on track.
What if my Spouse or Partner Refuses to Get Help?
It is certainly easier to revive a struggling relationship when both partners are present. But if your partner is reluctant, a couple therapist may still be of help. He or she may be able to suggest ways to encourage your partner to join you in treatment. Or, you may be able to learn how to change your own behavior in such a way that your partner changes too.