Comparing Couples Counseling Cost And Benefits

By Mary Elizabeth Dean|Updated June 23, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Dawn Brown, LPC

How do you calculate the cost of couples therapy, or for that matter, the advantages it can yield?

Obviously, there are financial and emotional matters involved, and the latter may be more significant by far. Then there are the immaterial costs: all the time and effort you have already put into building that relationship can be forever lost in a short amount of time. At the end of the day, though, however you choose to do the math, employing couples therapy to deal with existing relationship problems or preventing them from arising in the first place is one of the best investments you can make in your happiness.

How Much Does Couples Therapy Cost?

Couples Counseling Can Help Couples Stay Together
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The price of therapy varies widely depending on a number of factors, including your geographical location, the therapist’s education and experience, and more. In general, though, you can expect to pay upwards of $100 for each session or more, which tend to last between 40 and 50 minutes.

It may be possible to reduce this up-front expense by seeing a couple’s therapist who is still undergoing the practical portion of their training (such as an intern at a therapy practice), contacting your local church or social groups, or dipping into your health insurance. This limits the amount of choice you have, though, and may mean having to see a less qualified counselor or one who doesn't specialize in your particular kind of problem.

An alternative way of obtaining couples or marriage counseling with a licensed mental health expert for an affordable price is by signing up for online therapy.

In addition to being considerably less expensive even without insurance, conducting therapy via a computer or mobile device also allows couples with difficult schedules, living in different parts of the world from one another, or with unique challenges to get in touch with whatever kind of specialist can help them best at whatever time is most convenient. The lack of travel time, business overhead (renting an office space, hiring personnel, etc.,) cancellation fees, and increased convenience all represent further savings for both the therapist and clients.

The Financial And Emotional Cost Of Divorce And Separation

When it comes to the cost of fixing a relationship, the money and time a couple can spend on relationship counseling is sometimes only one-half of the equation. Even if breaking up isn't on the horizon, many couples spend a considerable amount of money on material possessions, like gifts and vacations, while trying to mend a relationship. These things may provide temporary relief from issues within the relationship. Still, unless underlying problems are addressed, they will continue once the novelty of the gifts and vacations wear off, potentially leaving you and your partner right back where you started or even worse as tensions and resentments continue to rise as issues continue to not be properly resolved.

Alimony settlements and moving into separate residences may be scary concepts, but the real damage done in a less than optimal relationship lies in the constant draining of both partners' emotional resilience and mental energy. If your feelings towards your spouse are causing you to lose sleep, warping your perspective, or hurting your chances at happiness, a few sessions of couples therapy is not just a bargain but is also likely a necessity.

Crunching The Numbers

It may seem cold or even crass to try to put numerical values into our relationships. And while we should all accept that an ideal relationship doesn't exist (or that an ideal relationship still has its disadvantages in one way or another, depending on how you want to look at it,) the harsh reality is that time, energy, and money are finite.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, the very act of financially quantifying the hurt of an unhealthy relationship or the benefit of a healthy relationship is inherently a step to putting your happiness above all else, as opposed to thinking about your life and relationship as a game for which you can use cheat codes like simply giving each other gifts or sweeping things under the rug.

Looking Out For Number One

Speaking of seemingly counterintuitive things, putting your happiness above all else is necessary to have a successful relationship. This does not mean you shouldn't care about your partner or their joy. However, quite the opposite is true. You cannot be a good relationship partner if you are not happy and don’t also treat yourself with kindness and respect.

If your happiness means that you are going to be in a relationship with someone, then it means that momentary happiness will sometimes have to take a backseat so that in the long term, your marriage or relationship continues to bring you fulfillment.

Asking yourself if you will be happier doing something that brings you joy at the moment versus doing something that doesn't provide instant gratification but brings you a greater degree of quality of life long-term can be incredibly enlightening and fulfilling, while also serving as a major catalyst for both personal growth and relationship growth.

Does Therapy Work Or Lead To Divorce?

One of the reasons a stigma exists surrounding seeing a marital therapist comes from the fact that according to some studies, a quarter of the couples who engage in marriage counseling get divorced within two years, and the number rises to almost forty percent within four years. People hear these statistics and conclude that therapy "doesn't work." However, one problem with this perception is equating “working" with saving a marriage.

The simple fact is that not all relationships are going to work out. If two people are incompatible, they could theoretically be in a functional, but not overall fulfilling, marriage. In fact, many couples live this way for one reason or another. Perhaps, for example, a couple wants to stay together for the kids. Even though the relationship itself doesn't necessarily bring happiness, the opportunity to avoid a broken home while also having a relationship that remains hopefully beneficial for any children involved is sometimes what partners agree is best for the family. Generally speaking, though, the point of being and staying married to someone is because it is and they are a bit part of what makes you happy. If that is not the case, and a couple decides that they would like to try marriage counseling, a therapist can help them realize that ending the relationship might be best for everyone involved.

Couples Counseling Can Help Couples Stay Together

Seeing a couple's counselor can help you and your spouse or partner decide whether it is best to end the relationship and do so before getting so bad that divorce or a nasty breakup is inevitable. Once things get that bad, it costs happiness for as long as it continues and greater pain and difficulty when the potential divorce happens.

The financial and emotional cost of a more amicable divorce compared to a bitter divorce can be monumental. Divorce does not mean therapy did not work. Regardless of the correlation, participating in marital treatment does not cause or prevent divorce (or happiness, for that matter) on its own. A marriage that is as ideal as anyone can hope for is highly unlikely to break down simply because they employed a qualified third party to help guide communication and develop healthy ways to resolve conflicts.

Similarly, a marriage fraught with foundational issues, like overall lack of compatibility, irreconcilable cultural differences, or fundamentally different values may not be able to be saved without sacrificing the happiness of either or both partners. With this in mind, the idea that a divorce occurred because therapy didn’t work isn’t viable.

The Upside

This article focuses mainly on the negative potential of a failed relationship, but only because we are generally more familiar with the benefits therapy can provide to a couple. It can help solve issues by providing the tools to work through them. Having a third party present for heavy discussions can help keep the focus on the issue at hand and prevent the conversation from becoming counterproductive.

Perhaps one of the most significant advantages of seeing a marital therapist is equipping couples with the tools to prevent problems from arising in the first place. When a relationship has fewer problems, and the issues are less severe and more easily solved, it will lead to a more fulfilling, intimate relationship that brings joy to everyone. Investing in that can offer the best return on investment anyone could ask for.

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