Working with a marriage counselor gives you the chance to get your marriage back on track, but you might find yourself put off by the high costs. Attending sessions with a licensed and trained marriage therapist can easily cost several hundred dollars for each session you attend, but you can find more affordable options. You can even find cheap marriage counseling available for those about to wed and recently engaged couples.
What Is Marriage Counseling?
Marriage counseling is like any other type of counseling. You and your spouse sit down with a counselor to discuss any issues you face in a safe and comfortable environment. During the first session, the therapist will ask you both about the problems you face as a couple, and the counselor will give you both the chance to air any grievances you might have. Instead of fighting or arguing at home, the marriage therapist will give you each a chance to speak. After the first session, the counselor will suggest things you can do at home and recommend a set number of future visits. Discussing marriage counseling costs upfront can save you any shock or surprise when the first bill comes in the mail.
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Marriage Counseling Costs
Marriage counseling costs range from $75 for a single one-hour session to $200 or more. Where you live, the experience of the therapist, and the type of setting can all play a factor in how much counseling costs. If you think that marriage counseling costs too much for your family, you can look at some of the other options.
Finding Cheap Marriage Counseling through Schools
Finding cheap marriage counseling is as easy as checking with the colleges and universities in your area. Institutes of higher learning train the future generation of therapists, and those therapists need help working with patients. Students work under the trained guidance of licensed marriage counselors, and if you feel uncomfortable at any point, you can stop the session. These programs help students understand how to work with patients, and you’ll often find that the sessions are much cheaper than visiting a licensed therapist. Your information will remain confidential, and the school will never release anything you say during your sessions. These schools often offer more affordable counseling for those in need.
Choosing Affordable Marriage Counseling with Payment Plans
If all the therapists in your area charge high counseling costs, ask if payment plans are available. With a payment plan, you can work out an agreement with your counselor to pay a small amount each week to cover the costs of your sessions. Payment plans help both sides reach an agreement that is beneficial for both parties. You receive the help that you need without paying high marriage counseling costs, and your counselor fills an empty spot.
Sliding Scale Counselors
Not all counselors charge the same amount for their services, and sliding scale fees offer lower overall marriage counseling costs. If the marriage counseling costs you see online are too high, talk to the counselor about a sliding scale fee. Many of the more affordable therapists rely on a sliding scale fee, which increases the number of people who can afford those services. The therapist essentially charges a higher amount for those who make more money and a smaller fee for those with a smaller income. If you or your spouse only works part time or stays home to take care of the kids, your costs can drop dramatically with this option. Instead of paying $200 for a session with a trained professional, your costs might drop to $50 or less.
Many city and county health departments offer free counseling. It’s worth calling and asking about relationship counseling. If you make enough money, they might ask for a sliding fee, but there are tons of resources that are free if you ask.
Churches, synagogues, and mosques are also great resources for counseling. Sometimes, it’s the religious figure who will do the counseling, but in many places, a member of the staff is a trained and licensed counselor. All of these groups would rather see marriages stay together.
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The costs are often much lower when you choose a clinical setting over a traditional setting. Often run by universities, these programs typically involve graduate students and those seeing an advanced degree in the field. You’ll have access to affordable marriage counseling without sacrificing education or experience. Some clinics offer lower costs through clinical settings when researching specific topics. These cheap marriage counseling clinics look for patients facing particular issues or with specific needs in mind. The clinic might study the effects of cheating in a relationship or how the recession damaged relationships. As long as you meet the requirements of the study, you’ll have access to marriage counseling costs far below what a private therapist might charge.
If the idea of sitting down with a licensed counselor fills you with dread, consider lowering your marriage counseling costs by attending a workshop instead. Led by various professionals, these workshops involve a number of different people, and you can learn from couples in similar situations. Marriage workshops take place in different cities and states across the country, and the cost of attending a workshop is often less than the marriage counseling costs for individual sessions.
An Economical Alternative: The Marriage Fitness Tele-Boot Camp
The Marriage Fitness Tele-Boot Camp, created by relationship expert Mort Fertel, is an economical alternative to marriage counseling and marriage workshops. When you join the program you get a 20-hour audio learning system, 10 hours of teleconferences, and a workbook. It’s comparable to 6-12 months of marriage counseling, but it’s a fraction of the cost.
Another Way to Look at It
When you’re considering marriage counseling and concerned about the cost, there’s another thing to consider: How much does divorce cost? There are basically two types of divorce: contested and uncontested.
Let’s assume for the moment that you and your spouse can get it together enough to work out all of the details of divorce without the help of a lawyer. It filing fee is about $200. There’s a process server fee that can range from $30 to several hundred depending on where you’re serving your spouse.
A contested divorce is where someone is arguing about something. If you have a lot of assets, you can almost count on fighting about some of them. If there are children, everything gets more complicated. A contested divorce can cost a few hundred to several hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you have a business together, there is no way that the break can be clean. And if you think that you can keep working together for years, you might want to consider that that means you can get along. Getting along is the first step to falling back in love.
That’s just the start. Someone is going to need to move out. There are moving expenses, rent or mortgage, and re-establishment of your entire life.
Another cost that won’t show up in your checkbook is the emotional costs of divorce. Everyone in a divorce is effected. The children are likely to be significantly damaged. Both parents will likely have struggles. No one will get out unscathed.
So, when you’re considering the cost of counseling, it’s worthwhile considering how expensive, painful, and drawn out the alternative is.
You can learn more on how to avoid divorce in our Marriage Counseling Guide.