If your relationship has hit a bump in the road, rest assured that it happens to just about every couple. There’s no doubt you can iron out some of those bumps on your own. But sometimes things spiral out of control, and you just can’t find your way forward. That’s where couples counseling, also known as marriage counseling or relationship, can help.
Yes, couples counseling works. That’s not to say it can save every relationship. Whether it will work for you depends on several factors. The most important thing is that you’re both fully invested in the process. Let’s look at some signs that couples counseling might work for you, what the process is like, and how to get started.
What is Couples/Marriage Counseling?
The goal of couples counseling is to work on improving the relationship together. In some cases, it also serves to clarify that the relationship is over.
Couples counseling can help with:
- building trust
- communication skills
- conflict resolution
- anger management
- problem-solving strategies
- exploring relationship goals
- defining relationship responsibilities
- working through specific life changes and challenges
Couples counseling can also be done before marriage or if you’re separated. Other psychological issues may also need to be addressed. Depending on the situation, this might involve separate individual sessions.
How effective is marriage or couples counseling?
When you combine a qualified professional, committed participants, new skills, a fresh perspective, and a safe environment to explore sensitive topics, over time you may be able to:
- create positive change in relational dynamics
- rekindle passion and romance
- heal trauma and wounds
- equip for the future
How to know if couples counseling might help?
Two important signs that counseling might work:
- Both parties have a willingness to engage.
- Both are committed to the therapy process.
Engagement in the therapy process works better when the couple has a good connection with their therapist.
Signs that it might not work include:
- When a member of the relationship is having an ongoing affair.
- When one partner demonstrates a pattern of controlling, dominating, violent, or coercive behavior over the other.
- One or both partners have a significant mental health or substance-use concern for which they’re not receiving treatment.
How long does marriage counseling take?
The timeline varies from couple to couple. It may take a few sessions for the therapist to fully assess the issues. On average, most couples need about 8-10 sessions, though some need more and some need fewer.
After a thorough online assessment, Prepare/Enrich, your therapist should be able to give you an idea of what to expect. A typical session lasts about 60 minutes.
How does online marriage/couples counseling work?
Online counseling works in much the same way as in-person therapy.
In a 2008 review, researchers performed a meta-analysis of online psychotherapeutic interventions. They concluded that online therapy can treat various problems differently, but effectively.
And in a 2020 study of online couples therapy, most clients expressed satisfaction and were comfortable with online therapy. It could be that some people feel more at ease in their own home versus a therapist’s office. Some couples reported that after a while, they stopped thinking about the camera at all. Others felt it created distance between them and the therapist.
You may have concerns about privacy during online sessions. You can request information about the platform and its security measures. You have a right to ensure that your expectations for privacy can be met.
How much does marriage/couples counseling cost?
$150 per 60 minute session*
*Many insurance policies do not cover marriage or couples counseling, with the exception of EAPs.
Marriage/couples counseling can help you work through conflicts and strengthen your bond. It’s most likely to be successful when both partners are willing and committed to the process. And online therapy can be as effective as in-person counseling. If you want to change your relationship dynamics or just build intimacy with the person you love, couples counseling could be your path forward.