Where Can I Get Free Online Marriage Counseling

communication help Jan 17, 2024

It isn’t a marriage if there isn’t some conflict from time to time. Knowing how to work through conflict in a healthy manner is everything. That’s where marriage counseling comes in. Marriage counseling is undeniably helpful for most couples, whether the issues are big or small. 

However, marriage counseling can appear unattainable for most of us. TV and movies show wealthy couples sitting in impeccably decorated counseling offices. Is marriage help limited to those with excess money? The short answer is no. Marriage counseling is more feasible than you might think. Between insurance options, sliding scale rates, and reduced fees, there is a more affordable way for everyone. Find out how to pay for this life-changing investment. 

What is Marriage Counseling?

Marriage counseling (or couples counseling for unmarried couples) helps you and your partner deal with relationship issues. Through short-term psychotherapy, you can address recurring problems and uncover the causes of conflict. Together with a licensed counselor couples discuss issues such as infidelity, finances, and mental health with the goal of strengthening the relationship.

Are marriage counseling and marriage therapy the same?

For the purpose of this article, the two terms will refer to the same thing. But even though the two terms are often used interchangeably, it’s important to be aware of potential differences.

  • Marriage counseling might be a bit less formal and more short-term than couples therapy. It focuses more on the present vs. the past. Couples counseling can be conducted by someone who is not licensed, such as a clergy member.  Couples counseling may start without any standing issues in the relationship, think: premarital counseling. 
  • Couples therapy deals with the present day but also delves into the history that causes unhealthy patterns in a relationship. Couples therapy tends to begin more often when couples have reached significant conflict. 

Some of the benefits couples therapy can offer:

  • Safe space for you and your partner to be vulnerable 
  • Impartial sounding board 
  • Tools to break unhealthy cycles 
  • Increased attunement 
  • More effective communication
  • Coping strategies 

Understanding the Cost

Why is it so expensive, you may be asking? If you google the cost of couples therapy, you’ll likely see numbers ranging from $100-$300 per session. This can feel like a disappointing shock for some. Ultimately, you may be questioning whether couples therapy is really worth the high cost. The short answer is yes. However, understanding the price can help you move beyond the sticker shock.  

  • Expertise

The therapist specializing in couples therapy has extensive and costly training that enables them to do this work. All of these therapists have a minimum of a master's degree. After an extensive education, therapists must do their clinical hours under supervision for at least of two years. Many therapists also choose to complete additional training in a specific type of couples therapy (such as EFT or The Gottman Method). 

  • No insurance help  

A lot of the time, insurance does not cover couples therapy. couples/marriage therapy do not have a “billable diagnostic code” for insurance.  Even with serious relationship problems couples therapy is not deemed “medically necessary”. 

Some therapists may give one partner a mental health diagnosis and bill for sessions under that client. You may be able to find a therapist willing to do this, but they may be a general therapist and not have specialized training to work with couples. 

  • Intensive 

Some people would say couples therapy is more intensive than individual therapy. There is a separate focus on each person, the relationship, and the issues. Therefore, couples therapy can take longer than individual therapy. Relationship dynamics are anything but simple. The assessment process alone can take up to four sessions. This extensive process is proven the best way to get the couple the help they need. Many couples wait until after problems have snowballed before seeking outside help. For that reason, more sessions are needed. 

  • Longer sessions 

A standard therapy session lasts for 50 minutes. This is always the case for individual therapy. However, some marriage therapists prefer longer sessions of 60 minutes or more. Effectively counseling more than one person requires more time. And research has shown that couples reach pivotal points in their session at 50-60 minutes. 

The Value of Trusted Therapists

Is couples therapy worth it? While this is a valid question. It might be better to ask how to assign worth to a happy, healthy relationship. Generally speaking, most of us would agree that having a good marriage is priceless. But specifically speaking what’s the price you’re willing to pay? Think of couples counseling as an investment, one that is sure to pay off. 

While the cost of couples therapy is nothing to shrug at, it’s hard to quantify the immense benefits it can bring. An unhappy relationship can have damaging effects on all aspects of your life, as well as negatively impacting people outside the relationship. Things don’t tend to get better on their own. Problems tend to boil up unless an intervention like therapy is introduced. 

The benefits from couples therapy can cross over to improve your non-romantic relationships too. Therapy can save a marriage, not to mention saving you from paying the astronomical cost of divorce. 

A pro of paying out of pocket is that you’re not limited to a small list of therapists. So you’re better able to find a therapist that fits your needs. 

Couples therapy is not just a financial investment. Besides the money, it requires time and a lot of work. But the commitment to couples therapy will pay off tenfold by improving your relationship, happiness, and overall well-being.

Ways to Pay for Marriage Counseling

Using health insurance

Using insurance is typically the most desirable route because it is the cheapest option. If you have insurance, there are a few ways to go about using it. The first thing to do is to call the number on your insurance card and talk with a representative about your individual coverage. Every company and plan is a little different so it’s better not to make assumptions on what you will owe. 

Keep in mind that using your insurance for therapy is not as straightforward as it is for other things. As mentioned before, you or your partner must be given a mental health diagnosis. A partner may also qualify if they are experiencing “mental distress” from their relationship and are diagnosed with a condition such as “adjustment disorder”. Always check with your insurance provider and speak with your therapist to avoid surprise bills. 


This is the most affordable path to take if you can. Using in-network benefits means you will only be responsible for paying a co-pay, co-insurance, and/or deductible. The downside is that who you can see as a therapist is limited. Only therapists who take your specific insurance fall into this category. Depending on what insurance you have, this can make finding a therapist tricky. This is especially true for those with HMO or Medicaid plans. While you can find a therapist, finding one that is a good match for you, could be harder. 


Another option for using insurance is by using your “out-of-network” benefits. This means that you’d pay upfront and then submit the bill to your insurance provider for reimbursement. A superbill is a document that shows a list of services you received from a healthcare provider. Talk with your therapist beforehand to see how they handle superbills. You’ll need to request a superbill from your therapist, as they’re not automatically sent out. How much you are reimbursed depends on the details of your plan. Several factors determine this such as:

  • The amount allowed for a therapy service is based on what your insurance company would pay for an in-network therapist
  • Your out-of-network benefit level
  • Whether you have met your out-of-network provider deductible for the year
  • Your coinsurance rate for out-of-network providers 


In order to afford therapy, some clients use a Health Savings Account (HSA), Flexible Spending Account (FSA), or Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) to cover the costs. Again, this option is only eligible if at least one partner qualifies for a billable diagnosis. 

How Much Does Marriage Counseling Cost Without Insurance?

Without insurance, most couples pay an average cost of $150 per session (about an hour), with sessions typically occurring weekly. Some therapists offer sliding-scale fees based on income, discounts for buying multiple sessions, or even payment plans.

 Don’t let cost hold you back from getting the help you need. The Couples Center offers sliding scale options with therapists who offer counseling at a reduced hourly rate. There are also weekend workshops that are more affordable than weekly counseling. 

Alternatives to Marriage Counseling

There are ways to improve your marriage without ever attending couples therapy. None of these things are substitutes for therapy, but they can help. Additionally, they could possibly assist in shortening the time you need to be in marriage therapy (especially if you attend a workshop). 

  • Go on dates 

Add a weekly date night to your routine. It’s not about what you do, it’s about spending uninterrupted time with each other. Have fun. Try something new. 

  • Set aside time to talk 

Of course, you talk to each other, but do you really talk? Make sure you are connecting without distractions to ask each other about their inner world - thoughts and feelings. 

  • Read a relationship book together 

You can benefit from the knowledge and wisdom of some of the best therapists, without breaking the bank. Read with your partner and have your own little book club. Here are some suggestions:

  • The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, PhD
  • The Road Less Traveled by Dr. M. Scott Pack
  • Rising Strong by Brene Brown, PhD
  • The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman, PhD


Couples workshops can be a more cost-effective option. Although the cost of a workshop is more than a therapy session, it’s like a bunch of therapy sessions in one. You’ll walk away from a workshop with immediate change to your relationship. Marriage counseling on the other hand takes a while to see change.

Love Made Simple offers couples workshops designed to strengthen your connection in a short amount of time. Over a weekend, either online or in-person, you and your partner will gain practical skills that last. You’ll feel more comfortable opening up to one another, finding the passion, and increasing intimacy. Workshops take place in a group setting, but you’ll still receive one-on-one attention. Scholarships are available for those with financial needs!


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