Behind Closed Doors: Inside Therapy

January 31, 2012 — Leave a comment


With divorce rates on the rise, there is an added focus these days on the health of marriages. Therapy, or marriage counseling, is proven to improve relationships – but what really happens behind those closed doors?

A sign of good marital health is when you hear your partner voice his or her belief that your marriage is in need of professional help. Let their voice alone be good enough for you to be willing to find a qualified marital therapist. There are a variety of resources for finding a good therapist: referrals from family, friends or other professionals, such as, family doctors or attorneys, medical insurance companies, Google search, and therapist websites. Two of my favorites aretherapistlocator.net and� marriagefriendlytherapists.c om.

It can be hazardous to choose a therapist who lacks the training and expertise to work with couples. Sadly, too many couples enter into marriage therapy with a counselor who is lukewarm in supporting life-long commitment. Just like in choosing a marriage partner, there are few things we could do to compensate for choosing poorly a marriage counselor.

Here are some questions to ask marriage counselors as you interview them over the phone:

“Can you tell me about your background and training in marriage counseling?”

“What percentage of your practice is marriage counseling?”

“What percent of married couples break-up while seeing you in marriage counseling?”

“How do you see the importance of keeping a marriage together when there are problems?”

“What is your experience in working with marriage couples in our situation?”

Once you obtain your short-list of qualified therapists, choose as best you can according to personality. Choose someone you seem to “click” with or whose communication style you resonate with. Both partners should reach a consensus on choosing a marital therapist; each of visit with a therapist on the phone before the first meeting, if at all possible.

Family and marriage family therapy costs can vary widely. Rates vary from $75.00 to $200.00 per hour, but many therapists offer sliding-fee-scales based on income and some accept insurance. More often than not, however, especially for marital therapy, your costs will be out-of-pocket because few insurance companies cover marriage counseling. Master-level therapists are generally less-expensive than someone with a doctorate degree; you don’t always get what you pay for. There are some exceptional marriage and family therapists with masters degrees.

Since most marriage counselors see couples one session per week for the first three months, you can expect to pay about $1,200 in that time period. When evaluating the cost of marriage and family counseling, consider that family therapy has been shown to reduce health care use of 22%! And, according to the American Association of Marriage & Family Therapy, family therapy requires 30% fewer sessions than individual therapy.

Most clients have paid less than $1200 by the time they complete their therapy. However, some counseling can continue weekly for as long as two years before the problems have been resolved. That would cost a couple $10,000 over two years. While it may seem like a fortune, it doesn’t begin to touch the costs of divorce. To help put the costs of marital therapy in perspective, there would be nothing you could buy for $10,000 that would give you the same quality of life that a healthy marriage provides. If you have each other and you work hard to meet each other’s emotional needs, you’ll be able to go without many material things and still be happier in the end.

 

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Dr. Liz Hale

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