Marriage Counseling Near Me: Is It Helpful?
Marriage counseling is a highly effective approach to addressing many marital concerns. In the marriage counseling process, a counselor works with you and your spouse to improve marital communication, intimacy, and problem-solving skills. The therapist acts as a neutral guide and facilitates an atmosphere of openness, honesty, and empathy. Marriage counseling is intended to be collaborative and constructive, focusing on reducing blame and judgment.
The therapist does not take sides, nor do they "judge" problems in the relationship to determine who is at fault. Marriage counseling focuses most often on solutions to problems rather than their origins. Marriage therapists use evidence-based techniques that are based on decades of scientific research. If you're concerned about issues in your marriage, marriage counseling can likely help; around 70% of couples report significant improvement in their relationship following therapy.
The Marriage Counseling Process
If you and your spouse disagree about whether to work on the marriage in therapy, you can still visit a counselor for discernment counseling. Discernment counseling is an evidence-based method to help partners decide the future of their relationship together. It is led by the therapist and based on the core marriage counseling principles of honesty, openness, and empathy. At the conclusion of discernment counseling, you and your spouse will mutually decide one of three options: to continue your marriage as-is, to work on the marriage in therapy, or to end the marriage.
If you and your spouse initiate counseling to improve your marriage or reach that decision through discernment counseling, the marriage counseling process begins, starting with an assessment of your marriage. The therapist will speak to you and your spouse to determine the overall quality of the relationship, what each partner considers the most pressing concerns, and what attempts have already been made to address those concerns.
You, your spouse, and the counselor will then begin determining goals for therapy based on the assessment of your marriage. The therapist will select evidence-based interventions appropriate for your specific marital concerns. There is no single approach to marriage counseling; there are several effective methods, each with particular use cases.
Here are a few of the common techniques used in marriage counseling:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a frequently used therapy that has been demonstrated to be effective in many situations. CBT has been adapted for use with individuals, couples, and groups. It focuses on the alignment between thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Thoughts, feelings, and emotions all influence each other, and producing a change in one produces a similar change in the others. In marriage counseling, CBT helps shift challenging thought processes and behaviors to improve the feelings surrounding the relationship.
Solution-focused therapy (SFT) is often used when a couple has a specific, practical problem to address. The therapist works with the couple to identify solutions to the problem, but not usually the cause. SFT is not concerned with blame or who is responsible for the problem, but rather how the problem has been solved in the past and how it can be solved in the future.
Emotion-focused therapy (EFT) is grounded in attachment theory and the emotions surrounding interpersonal relationships. Attachment theory describes how individuals bond to important others in their lives and how it relates to a certain attachment style. The relationship is analyzed from a perspective of attachment, and the therapist offers guidance as each partner learns to understand how they and their spouse attach to each other.
The Gottman Method
John Gottman, a psychologist, relationship expert, and founder of the Gottman Institute, pioneered the Gottman Method. The Institute studies what makes a romantic relationship healthy and has analyzed decades of data to determine patterns of thoughts, behaviors, and communication that predict success in marriage. Following Gottman's data-driven approach, the therapist helps a couple identify actions known to be harmful, identify their root cause, and replace them with healthier actions.
Is Marriage Counseling Effective?
The techniques of marriage counseling are based on decades of scientific research. Marriage therapists have an enormous stock of tools and information on which to draw, and modern marriage counseling has proven effective. In one study, 70% of couples who pursued marriage counseling reported a significant improvement in their relationship.
Not every relationship will benefit from marriage counseling, but many will. Experts suggest that the chances of success can be significantly increased by seeking a counselor before issues become overwhelming. It is a common misconception that a couple should wait until they no longer feel they can handle the problems in their relationship before pursuing counseling.
Following the recent boom in online therapy, marriage counseling techniques were intently studied to determine if they are equally effective online as in an office setting. Evidence indicates that marriage counseling is just as effective when administered online and, in some cases, is preferable over an office setting.
Why Do Couples Attend Marriage Counseling?
Marriage counseling is expected to be one of the fastest-growing areas of psychotherapy in the coming decade. Fewer and fewer spouses are hesitant to seek the guidance of a counselor, and the stigma surrounding marriage counseling is declining rapidly.
The myths and misconceptions that surrounded marriage counseling in the past are quickly being debunked by modern research. One particularly harmful myth is that marriage therapy is only useful when relationship concerns have become so vast and overwhelming that the spouses have no reasonable chance to handle the problem on their own. Evidence strongly suggests that seeking a therapist before problems become overwhelming, not after, significantly increases the chances of success.
A second myth proposes that if a couple needs the help of a therapist, their marriage is already doomed to fail. This, too, is refuted by modern research. Evidence suggests that 70% of relationships see significant improvement following marriage counseling. Couples who see a therapist for help with relationship concerns are likely to prevent their relationship from becoming doomed, not ensure it.
Couples seek therapy for various reasons; there are no specific criteria you and your spouse need to meet before finding a therapist. Almost any problem that impacts relationship cohesion or happiness can be brought to a counselor. A couple can even attend therapy if they don't have any identifiable concerns but simply want to learn advanced skills to help prevent problems in the future. Couples can also work with a therapist to address concerns that involve primarily one spouse, such as working as a team to help a partner overcome a substance use disorder.
Some other common reasons married couples seek therapy are listed below:
- Difficult or unkind communication
- Falling out of love, emotional distance, or a lack of connection between partners.
- Help to overcome a practical problem that is affecting the relationship.
- Low or absent intimacy.
- Help to heal from a breach of trust.
- Concerns related to parenting and childrearing.
There are very few reasons why a couple should not attend marriage counseling. However, if you believe you may be in an abusive relationship, strongly consider speaking to a counselor independently before initiating marriage counseling. Attending marriage counseling with an abusive partner is not recommended. You can also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline for assistance directly using the information below.
If you or someone you know is experiencing dangerous or abusive behavior at the hands of their partner, the National Domestic Violence Hotline can help. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text "START" to 88788. You can also seek assistance through the hotline's online chat.
How Can Online Therapy Help?
As the number of couples utilizing marriage counseling to improve their relationships continues to increase, obtaining easy access to a therapist is becoming progressively more difficult. For couples in underserved areas, they may have to wait a considerable amount of time before seeing a therapist, and in some cases, they may not be able to see one at all.
Online therapy offers a potential solution to barriers to traditional therapy, such as an ongoing therapist shortage. It also allows couples to avoid traveling to an office and offers a broader range of therapists from which to choose.
Online therapists use the same methods and techniques as traditional therapists, rigorously tested to ensure that the methods are effective online, and marriage counseling is no exception. Visiting with a therapist online can take some getting used to, but research indicates that methods used in traditional therapy are just as effective when administered online.
Marriage counseling is an effective, evidence-based approach to addressing marital concerns. It is based on years of scientific research and study and has decades of support for its effectiveness. Modern approaches to marriage counseling are future-focused and do not incorporate blame or judgment into the process. Marriage counselors act as neutral guides and facilitators, helping spouses communicate, develop intimacy, and improve problem-solving skills. Modern marriage counseling is considered highly effective; 70% of couples who complete therapy report a significant improvement in their relationship.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much does it cost to see a counselor?
It cannot be easy finding the right therapist or mental health professional to meet your needs. It may take a few tries to find a therapist who can provide you with the treatment options you need. Mental health care therapy costs can vary significantly depending on location and specialty.
There is a large variety of types of therapy and types of therapists. Some therapists work exclusively in marriage and family therapy, while others may only work with patients who have anxiety and depression. It is important to know which type of therapy you are looking for, which is largely dependent on what symptoms you are experiencing and if loved ones are involved.
On average, the therapy cost of a counselor will be cheaper than a specialty therapist or psychiatrist. Typically, however, you can expect to spend between $50-$150 per hour-long session to see a mental health professional in person. This cost can quickly add up, especially in the case of marriage and family therapy, where your mental health professional will want to see you as often as once a week.
In comparison, online therapy is significantly more cost-effective. For many, it is also much easier to find the right therapist online since you don’t have to worry about logistics or traveling to their office.
When you choose to work with a therapist online, the cost drops to around $60-$90 per month. With that, you get unlimited to mental health care and mental health professionals. You will be able to email and text your mental health professional as often as you need and will have at least one video call a week with them.
Additionally, you can find a therapist that you think will work best for you and will be able to understand best and treat your mental health condition. You will fill out a questionnaire, and based upon your answers and preferences; they will find a therapist for you. If you decide that you don’t work well with that therapist, the team will help you find a new therapist until you find a therapist that you work well with.
- What's the difference between a counselor and a therapist?
There are a few differences between a counselor and a therapist. The main difference is that counseling is typically meant to be a short-term form of therapy, and it tends to focus more on specific problems that a person may be facing, such as substance abuse or extreme stress.
In comparison, a person will find a therapist or a mental health professional to work with long-term for more severe conditions such as Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, severe anxiety, and major depression.
A good example of this difference is that most marriage and family therapists are considered counselors because they typically only work with a family or a couple for a short period of time until they can get back on track or until they decide to move on from one another. On the other hand, a person with Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or major depression would need to find a therapist or mental health professional that they could see for years. They would likely need treatment in some form for their entire life.
- How can I get free counseling?
For the majority of people, counseling isn’t free. However, there are hotlines available in cases of severe need that can help you in a crisis. While these are not meant to be long-term solutions, they can help save a life in a critical moment. These hotlines are:
- National Eating Disorder Association: 1-800-931-2237
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
- National Alliance of Mental Illness: 1-800-950-6264
- Sexual Abuse Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
- Veteran’s Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
These hotlines can help provide aid in an emergency and help provide you with information and resources to help you find a therapist that will fit your needs and budget.
Alternatively, if you don’t mind your experiences and struggles with others, many support groups are completely free to attend. These exist for virtually any kind of crisis and experience that you can think of.
If you meet the need requirements, you may also qualify for Medicaid and state mental health assistance. You’ll need to call your state health department to inquire about this option. Finally, you may be able to receive free counseling through your church or place of worship.
- Is counseling free with insurance?
It completely depends on your individual insurance policy. Some insurances cover a wide range of therapy types and provide expansive mental health care, while others only offer the bare minimum required by law. To know for sure if your insurance covers mental health care and know what you will be expected to pay, or if there are any requirements that you first need to meet, it is best to call your policy provider directly.
- How do you pay for counseling?
First, make sure that you have spoken to your insurance and determined your eligibility and what requirements you need to meet. The first and best option is to pay for it with your insurance. If that is not possible, take advantage of FSA or HSA’s that your company may offer, or ask your employer if they offer an employee assistance program covering mental health care.
In the absence of these options, you will need to work with your counselor or therapist on how to pay your bill, if you can make payments, pay in advance, etc.
- How much does therapy cost per hour?
If you search "marriage therapist near me," you can expect to spend anywhere from $50-$150 per hour-long session once you find a therapist. Not all insurances cover therapy, so make sure that you contact your insurance provider to determine your eligibility and what your percentage of the cost will be.
The cost varies widely because all types of therapy require different schooling, study, and licensure to practice. For some therapy types, only a master’s degree is required. For the majority of other therapy types, a doctorate in psychology is required.
Another option for many types of therapy is online therapy. While it is not ideal for all types of therapy, such as those dealing with addiction and substance abuse, they are beneficial for other types of therapy, including those dealing with anxiety and depression. The cost associated with reputable online therapy is only $60-$90 per month, which on average is less than a single in-person visit.
It is incredibly important to treat mental health conditions early. If you are experiencing mental health conditions, don’t wait until they become so severe that they impact your quality of life. Reach out to our team today to discuss your options for therapy to help you find a therapist that will help you with a treatment plan.
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