When a marriage hits a rough patch, couples often consider seeking professional help. But one of the first questions that comes to mind is, “How much does marriage counseling cost?” The answer isn’t always straightforward, as fees can vary widely depending on the provider’s qualifications, session length, and location. However, understanding what you’re paying for and why can help you make an informed decision about this important investment in your relationship.

The dangers of low-cost or unqualified counseling

While it may be tempting to opt for the least expensive option, bad marriage counseling can actually do more harm than good. Untrained or poorly trained therapists may give ineffective or even damaging advice. For instance, a generalist therapist might suggest that an unhappy couple should just get divorced based on limited information, rather than helping them work through their issues. Discernment counseling from a qualified professional, on the other hand, can help couples decide whether to pursue counseling or separation in a thoughtful way.

Cost ranges for different provider types

So what can you expect to pay for quality marriage counseling? Here are some typical cost ranges:

– Clinic or university training setting with intern counselors: $35-$75 per 50-minute session1

– Licensed therapist in private practice: $100-$250 per 50-minute session

– Specialist with advanced training (e.g. Gottman Method or EFT): $150-$450 per 80-90 minute session

– Intensive marriage retreat weekend with a certified expert: $2500-$7500+

Keep in mind that while longer sessions may cost more per meeting, they allow for deeper work and faster progress, making them a better value overall.

Questions to ask about a therapist’s couples counseling qualifications  

When interviewing potential marriage counselors, don’t hesitate to ask about their background and approach to working with couples. Some key questions include:

  1. What percentage of your practice is with couples vs. individuals? (Ideally >50%)
  2. What formal post-graduate training have you had in couples therapy (e.g. workshops, certifications)? 
  3. How many years have you been specializing in working with couples? How many intensive couples therapy retreats do you conduct per year?
  4. What is your approach or philosophy when it comes to helping marriages in distress?
  5. Do you offer a thorough assessment process before starting treatment?

A therapist who has devoted significant time and energy to developing their skills in counseling couples is more likely to be an effective guide for your relationship.

Other factors affecting marriage counseling costs

Aside from the counselor’s experience level, other variables impact what you’ll pay for marriage counseling:

Session Length: Because there is more ground to cover with two people, effective couples sessions are usually 80-90 minutes rather than the 50-minute “therapy hour” common for individual counseling. Intensive couples therapy, a concentrated form of treatment that is conducted typically over a weekend, will cost more given its concentrated nature.

Insurance: Most plans do not cover couples therapy, only treatment for diagnosable mental health conditions. Some therapists may offer reduced self-pay rates. 

Location: Therapists in major metropolitan areas often charge more than those in smaller towns due to higher overhead costs and cost of living. Online counseling may be a more affordable option for some, with the added benefit of not having to travel to appointments.

Frequency: Weekly sessions are recommended in the early stages of counseling, but meeting every other week or monthly is sufficient for maintenance later on. The total duration of treatment also affects total cost.

Investing in a specialist pays off

It’s understandable to feel sticker shock when you see the rates for an experienced couples therapist, but consider the value of what you’re getting. A skilled couples therapist is like a highly trained surgeon who can help get your relationship back on a healthy track. With an expert on your team, you’re much more likely to gain effective tools to break destructive cycles, heal resentment, and experience deeper intimacy.

In contrast, divorce is an extremely costly prospect, both financially and emotionally. The average cost of divorce in the U.S. is $15,000 per person,3 and that doesn’t include potential ongoing expenses like alimony, child support, and maintaining two households. Even a “cheap” divorce can end up costing each spouse over $5,000. And those figures pale in comparison to the relational and mental health impacts on you and your children. Unresolved marital conflict and breakups are linked to many detrimental effects including:

– Increased risk of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse  

– Health problems like high blood pressure and weakened immune system

– Children’s behavioral issues, poorer academic performance, and their own relationship struggles later in life

So while $3,000-$6,000 upfront for 3-6 months of quality marriage counseling isn’t cheap, it starts to look like a wise investment when you consider the costs of not dealing with your relationship challenges. Of course, not every marriage can or should be saved. But for many couples, working with the right therapist leads to a more fulfilling partnership that brings out the best in both of you.

Choosing the right marriage counselor

It takes effort to find an excellent couples therapist, but your relationship is worth it. Look for a licensed mental health professional who specializes in evidence-based approaches and has pursued extensive training in working with couples. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to ensure they are a good fit before committing. With the guidance of a skilled therapist, you and your partner can get unstuck from painful patterns and build a strong, loving bond.


While the cost of marriage counseling can seem daunting at first, it’s important to consider the value of investing in your relationship. Qualified couples therapists have specialized training and use proven techniques to help partners work through challenges and create more fulfilling marriages. In contrast, seeing an untrained or poorly skilled counselor can make things worse and lead to expensive and painful consequences like divorce. By doing your research, asking about a therapist’s qualifications, and prioritizing this investment in your marriage, you give your relationship the best chance to not only survive, but thrive.


1. Rachael Pace (2023, Feb 15th). https://www.marriage.com/advice/therapy/how-to-find-and-receive-free-couples-therapy/ 5 Tips to Get Free Couples Therapy for Relationship Support

2. How Much Is Couples Therapy? Paired.com https://www.paired.com/articles/how-much-is-couples-therapy

3. Chauncey Crail (2022). How Much Does A Divorce Cost In 2024? Forbes