By David Joel Miller
How much does Marriage or couples counseling cost?
Lots of people know that they need couples counseling. They have heard about and thought about the things relationship counseling can do for them. They are considering it for all sorts of reasons. What they want to know when they ask about the price tag is often, can they afford it and then will it be worth the price.
It is unfortunate that this question comes in as often as it does. Couples counseling can help. Sometimes it helps a lot. Couples therapy can even help if you have both decided it is over and you want out. This is extra true if there are children involved.
Sometimes couples counseling can help you repair a damaged relationship. Other times it can help you both work through the decision to separate. Remember that if there are children, family, and friends or even pets to consider, the more you can agree on, the less the trauma and cost of taking this to the lawyers.
More than one couple has come in thinking it was all over and they needed to work out the details of the divorce and by the time the relationship counseling was completed they had rediscovered the things they liked about the other person and the relationship was off life support and on the mend.
Couples, married or not, should get the help they need to keep their relationship healthy and growing and the price of seeing therapist shouldn’t be the deciding factor. If there are children involved they need the help in working out the ways to make this less traumatic on the kids.
Let’s look at what is involved and then what it may cost you in time and money.
A good couples therapist can help interrupt the conflict and give you a chance to try on some new behaviors. Sometimes just finding out that what you are going through is typical for a relationship at the stage you are at can be helpful.
The counselor can give you a different way of looking at your issues and can help you develop and practice new skills. The things that brought two people together are often the things that are pushing them apart. The skills you need to start a relationship are not the skills you need to maintain one.
Once your relationship begins to change the common tendency is to blame the partner. You think they need to change or that you need to get out of this relationship and find someone else. It is rarely that simple. Pick a partner and you get a set of problems. Change partners and you change problems, often for the worse rather than the better.
Most couples end up going to very few couple’s sessions.
The average couple, according to one study, attends couples counseling about 6 times. A few couples may opt for more sessions than that, say twelve or more. Beyond that, you are probably not working on conflicts. You will have transitioned to more of a relationship coaching situation where you are working on growing the strength of your relationship rather than trying to save it.
Some of the how long or how many sessions partially depends on the nature and seriousness of the issues. If there has been an affair the non-affair partner may need time to work on their own pain and issues separate from the couple’s issues.
We often discover that there are personal issues that one or both of the parties are working through. Hidden underneath the “couples issues” and “lack of communication” there are often long-standing serious substance use or childhood issues.
Just the dollars and cents, please.
Price for couples counseling varies from area to area. In major cities, the prices can be higher but then so is the office rents and everything else. In my area, the “usual and customary” rate is on the order of $100.00 to $150.00 an hour. A few very new counselors may be lower and some old timer’s with very busy practices charge more.
Relationship issues are not considered a mental illness, even if your spouse is driving you crazy. Most medical insurance or public funding will not cover relationship issues or the coverage will be limited. There are cost cutting things you can do. Some Employee Assistance Plans cover relationship issues. There are low-cost clinics and some counselors offer sliding fee scales for low-income people.
Relationship counseling may turn out to be a bargain.
Even if none of those options work for you and you are looking at paying out-of-pocket consider this:
How much will the divorce lawyer want for a retainer? Do the math. Six sessions at the average price that works out to six hundred to nine hundred dollars. Less than a lawyer. Less than deposits and rent for a second place. Way less than the cost of a custody dispute.
How much time and effort have you put into this relationship? There must have been some reason you two got together and stayed together besides the booze that first night.
If there is any chance of fixing this don’t you owe it to yourself to invest a few bucks in trying to make this relationship work?
One thing I have noticed also. Those people who divorce, they often end up quickly getting into a second or third relationship. A bit later those repeat relationship’s end up in therapy to work on the reasons their past relationships did not work.
My hope is that this post helps put the costs, financial and emotional, of relationship counseling into the larger perspective of the cost of abandoning a potentially good relationship, the effects on the children, family, and friends of not trying to learn how to have a good relationship.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books