If you are struggling in your relationship, you are not alone. You probably already know that America’s divorce rate is over 50%. For couples who are living together and not married, the outcomes are generally worse.
Here’s the bottom line: American Dating Culture is not producing long-lasting, satisfying relationships.
Is Couple Counseling worth it?
Yes, couples therapy is worth it. A typical course of couple therapy is 12 sessions. At a cost of $180 per session (expensive, but costs can be reduced if you have insurance), 12 sessions x $180 = $2,160. The average cost of divorce in 2020 was over $12,000.
That $12,000 figure is only considering legal costs. It does not include lifestyle impact costs like:
- Missed work.
- Physical or mental health impact of the divorce.
- Poor job performance, possibly the loss of a job.
- Increased housing, food, or transportation expenses.
- Child support, or therapy for your kids after your divorce.
Add all that up, and it’s easy to see how the lifestyle impact costs of divorce in the first year really add up. The total cost in the first year can be nearly your household income, plus the legal costs. For the sake of discussion, let’s say that you’re at or near the US Median income of $51,000/year (in 2021). If that’s you, legal costs plus lifestyle costs are going to be pushing $63,000.
The $12,000 figure also does not include costs that you cannot put a dollar value on, such as:
- Damage to relationships beyond your ex (kids, in-laws, former friends, and neighbors, etc).
- Emotional damage to yourself.
- Reduced longevity, meaning you’re likely to die younger.
- Harm to your future romantic relationships.
- Harm to your children’s romantic prospects.
If there is addiction or infidelity impacting the relationship, your time in couple therapy will probably be longer than the “typical” course of couple therapy.
Does Couple Counseling Work? What is the success rate?
If you consider that with the question “Is couple therapy worth it?” The $2,160 you’re thinking about investing in couples counseling buys you a 70% chance of saving $63,000.
What about the other 30%?
Couples therapy is likely to fail when:
- The therapist fails to establish rapport with both partners. Because 80% of the benefit from therapy comes from having a good rapport with the therapist. If you don’t feel that you “click” by the third session, fire your therapist and find a different one.
- The therapist is unable to maintain neutrality. Because if the therapist is not neutral, it’s making one partner “good” and the other one “bad.” This gets really tricky when helping couples overcome infidelity.
- One (or both) partner(s) is (are) keeping secrets, especially infidelity. One of our specialties is helping couples overcome infidelity – and it requires a no secrets policy.
- One (or both) partner(s) is (are) struggling with addiction and not working through a recovery plan. One of our specialties is helping couples overcome porn or sex addiction, which often overlap with other addictions.
- One (or both) partner(s) is (are) abusive. This is the one situation we do not help couples with. If you are being abused or being abusive, you need to get safe, and then get individual therapy.
What not to say in couples counseling?
Couples therapy cannot be effective if you cannot be honest. Say what’s on your mind. Just be prepared that the responses of your partner or the therapist may not be what you’re hoping for.
A good couples therapist will not keep secrets but can help you plan for a therapeutic disclosure of your secrets. They will also not make one partner “bad” and the other one “good.”
When should you see a couples counselor?
Some different times when you may start to see a couples counselor is when:
- You and your partner have become indifferent to each other’s needs, or the success or failure of the relationship.
- When most communication is negative or leads to fighting.
- One partner is continually lying or being secretive.
- The relationship lacks intimacy – not just sexlessness, but all sorts of intimacy.
- Continually seeing your partner as the “bad guy” or villain.
- One partner has been unfaithful.
- You find yourself in the same argument over and over again.
- Dishonesty about finances.
- Frequent conflict, or conflict that puts you in a state of fight, flight, or freeze.
What do couples counselors do?
That’s actually a really complicated question. The simplest answer is that good couples therapists will:
- Screen for abuse, addiction, or infidelity, and refer out or revise the treatment plan accordingly.
- Stay neutral between both partners.
- Manage sessions in ways that help both partners feel physically and emotionally safe.
- Have a model to follow that is relevant to the couple’s concerns. Basically, a therapeutic map to get where the couple wants to go.
Can couples therapy make things worse?
Yes, couples therapy can make things worse when the therapist does not do what good couple’s therapists do. (See the question above).
How do you fix a broken relationship?
It depends on what specifically is broken. We have a separate article, video, and results tracker on things to try to improve relationships. Often, as you start trying the things on that list, you will be able to identify what is broken.
How many counseling sessions does it take to improve a relationship?
On average, 12 couples therapy session(s) is needed to see improvement within the relationship. The length of couples counseling specifically when using the method EFT ranges from 8-20 sessions.
What type of therapy techniques are most beneficial in relationship counseling from couples therapists?
80% of the benefit from therapy comes from having a good rapport with the therapist. This is almost regardless of what techniques they use. However, some techniques are for helping build rapport. Some models are also better for working with specific concerns such as infidelity or addiction.
If you don’t feel that you “click” by the third session, fire your therapist and find a different one.
We recommend that you work with a therapist trained in at least one of the following models of couple therapy:
In what instances should the authorities get involved in relation to violence in the relationship?
Our Personal Challenges Survey (PCS) includes a brief-screening scale for domestic violence risk. If you take the PCS and score higher than 1.5, please call the domestic violence hotline at 800-799-7233, or your local 911 dispatch center.
In general, the authorities should get involved whenever any of the following is happening.
- Domestic violence
- Physical Abuse
- Child Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Intimate partner violence
Will marriage counselors ever suggest divorce?
Most couple therapists will most likely not suggest divorce. Counselors are there to help clients set and reach goals, overcome barriers, and walk through life despite the hardships endured. Counselors should certainly consider client safety in this process.
Divorce must always be acknowledged as a possibility, to pretend it’s not an option is negligent. With that in mind, the counselor’s job is to help the couple pursue the goals that the couple sets.
If the couple sets the goal of divorce, the counselor’s job is to support that. Different counselors have different strengths. Some counselors are better at helping couples whose goal is to pursue restoration and repair in their marriage. Some counselors are better at helping with pursuing an amicable divorce.
Does couples counseling work for cheating?
Yes, couples counseling can work for cheating – as long as the cheating has stopped. Marriage counseling can be a source of healing for individuals and couples who have experienced infidelity. This sort of counseling is one of our specialties. Working with a marriage counselor can help the relationship survive infidelity. Marriage counseling can help save a marriage. However, it does take a lot of hard work, commitment, and forgiveness from both parties.
The best outcomes for couples post infidelity are when there are at least three counselors involved, one for the couple, and one each for the partners, and when all three of those counselors have a release of information to coordinate treatment. This can get expensive, so finding counselors who have specialized training in infidelity counseling and betrayal trauma who accept insurance is very important. Even if only one of the three counselors on the treatment team has this unique expertise, they can help the other counselors work effectively towards the couple’s goals.
What are some reasons to seek couples as well as individual therapy at the same time?
For any of the following reasons…
- Personal growth
- Sexual trauma
- Trauma recovery
- Complex family issues
- Body image issues or eating issues
- Difficult life transitions
- Severe psychological issues
Can you go to couples therapy if you’re not married/just dating?
Yes, you can seek therapy even if you are not married. Regardless of your living arrangements, or how long you’ve been together, you can seek counseling.
Is couples therapy a bad sign?
No, couples therapy is not a bad sign. Going to couples therapy means that you and your partner are solving problems. Typically, investing your time, money, and energy into counseling means that the couple is interested in working on their relationship and is committed to one another.
We encourage our staff to engage in regular personal therapy, including couple therapy for their own relationships. Counselors who engage in their own personal therapy are usually better at helping their clients. If couple therapy were a bad sign, this would not be the case.
Is premarital counseling a type of couples counseling?
Yes, typically premarital counseling is administered right before a marriage starts, or when making the decision whether to marry a specific person. It is included in couples counseling as a subcategory.
What services are online for couples or marital therapy?
Basically everything. We regularly provide telehealth or online counseling for our couples.
What is intensive couples counseling?
A typical course of couple therapy is 50 minutes per week, for about 12 sessions – for a total of 12 “clinical hours.” An intensive is when those 12 hours are compressed into two to four days.
Couples intensives are more expensive than regular couple counseling for several reasons:
- Travel, lodging, and food costs.
- Insurance does not cover intensives.
- Therapists are usually specially trained to offer intensives for specific concerns.
- More than one therapist may be involved.
- The therapist blocks out his or her schedule and does not see other clients during the intensive.
Intensives may be a good idea for issues such as:
- Addiction assessment.
- Therapeutic disclosure for sex addiction or infidelity.
- A crisis-level problem that needs a crisis-level solution.
- Complex history inhibits the effectiveness of traditional couple therapy.
Traditional therapy can be better than intensives for:
- Problems that can’t or won’t go away because you did an intensive.
- Problems that take a long time to heal.
- Maintaining consistent gains.
- Giving change time to become consistent.
Why Our Approach Works
Our approach to counseling integrates the best research with the best practices in a clear way. (Often, you get either the best practices or the best research, rarely both).
Thorough Intake Assessment
You are a unique individual, not a formula. You are also not the first, only, or last person with your experiences and emotions. We integrate your story with your survey responses to get the most accurate diagnosis possible.
A Clear Plan, Personally Applied
We know what research says works to help people get better. We also know where to adjust the plan for personal fit and the best long-term results.
Outcome Tracking (optional, but highly recommended)
Tracking the results from your efforts helps you feel better, faster. We value your healing over our revenue. We want you out there in the world making your mark, not stuck with us forever.
Challenges We Help With
Try Our Free Resources
We offer these resources to the community for free. No email or identifying information is required to access these tools that can help you overcome your challenges.
Please help us to help as many people as possible by donating below.
If you want, you can specify which fund you would like to donate to.
The General Fund is allocated at the board's discretion, on a monthly basis.
The Scholarship Fund helps pay for therapy for uninsured people who cannot afford therapy.
The Strategic Plan fund helps us expand our service capacity and publish new resources. The Strategic Plan is set on an annual basis by the board of directors. Our current strategic plan is always available on our about page.