Hi, this is Abe Kass. I am a professional couple and family therapist. Let’s review some of the common types of marriage counseling and couples therapy. The ‘right’ types of couples therapy can make the difference between relationship happiness or misery and divorce!
You know your committed and intimate relationship is the most important thing in your life. This is especially true if you have children. Most things in life never go the way we would like them to, so if you are having relationship difficulties, this should be no surprise!
Relationships are complicated. They include each person’s unique personality and past personal experiences that impact the current couple’s relationship. Problems are the norm and not to be feared. What should be feared is not finding a solution to the problem.
When seeking help, it is smart to consider all of your options. In this article, I will review the 7 most common types of couples therapy.
The 7 Most Common Types of Couples Therapy
#1 Face–to–Face Personalized Counseling with a Fully Trained and Competent Therapist
For most troubled couples, face–to–face professional help is imperative. Few couples can solve their problems entirely on their own. Typically, the reason outside help is required is that we don’t see our own shortcomings — they are blindspots, and if we cannot see them, we cannot fix them. A couples therapist is an expert at helping the couple see what they don’t see on their own.
Those couples who attempt to fix their relationships without outside help run the very real risk of their problems becoming worse. In fact, most separations and divorces happen because the couple does not get outside professional help as needed. The truth is, that most divorces are preventable. Every divorce is a calamity and a tragedy. Had the couple acquired a trained and caring relationship specialist, their marriage or committed relationship problems could have been resolved — sometimes even in just a few sessions. Couples therapists offer either office visits, virtual meetings, or both.
When you work directly with a fully qualified relationship specialist, you will get a personalized approach to your problems. Working directly with a professional is preferable to any marriage education or online counseling service. If you and your partner are experiencing relationship problems, going to a qualified relationship specialist is an excellent idea and should be your ‘plan A.’
Having a degree in social work, psychology, or psychiatry alone is not adequate training for working with marriages or committed relationships. Relationships are highly complex, and couples therapy is very different from individual therapy. Social work, psychology, psychiatry, or counseling are primary degrees that can then support more specialized and advanced training on how to repair troubled relationships. Your therapist should have a graduate degree that specializes in relationship dynamics.
In addition to advanced relationship training, the therapist you choose should be a member of at least one professional organization that specializes in relationship therapy, such as the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy or the Canadian Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Being a member of an organization guarantees that your therapist is held to high standards of professional practice and ethical behavior.
Yes, finding relationship therapy with a qualified professional is your best option. However, the problem for many couples is the cost. Private couples counseling can be costly and often insurance companies do not cover it. When face-to-face professional relationship therapy with a fully trained specialist is not affordable, what then are your next best options for less expensive or free marriage counseling? Keep reading…
#2 Marriage and Relationship Clinics Offering Free Therapy
Some marriage clinics or individual relationship therapists offer a free session. However, this is misleading since a single session is always inadequate. Typically, a first session is used by the couple to describe their current situation and its history. For a couple to continue with treatment, they would then have to pay for additional appointments, which many couples cannot afford.
In fact, a single session may even be harmful, as it may be like opening up a wound but not treating it! After bearing your soul to the therapist to then be told the treatment requires an expensive financial investment that cannot be afforded, leaves the couple worse off than before their single ‘free’ appointment. Just talking about ‘the problem’ without intervention typically makes it worse. Hearing your partner complain about you without follow-up support and treatment can be devastating.
If you aren’t prepared to pay for additional appointments, you should skip the free session.
#3 Subscription Therapy
Some online marriage therapy services are offered for a small monthly subscription fee. With these services, you never actually meet your therapist in real-time. Rather, you correspond with your therapist using text messages, emails, etc.
Generating messages through writing is very limited. Most people cannot fully and accurately express themselves with the written word. Doing so can easily lead to misunderstandings which can spell relationship disaster. Relationships and feelings are extremely complicated, and relying on a therapist to understand your feelings, your complicated relationship, and its history, cannot be achieved using only written words.
As well, some of these services employ coaches who do not have adequate training to effectively guide troubled couples.
If you use a subscription type of marriage counseling, it is important to recognize the limitations of this service.
#4 Community Counseling Services
Community services that provide relationship therapy at a reduced fee may exist in your area. These types of services are typically located in hospitals and other community settings. However, the quality of the available therapists can be problematic, and privacy is not always assured. Typically, the couple is ‘assigned’ to a therapist who may or may not be good, perhaps is overworked, or is an unskilled intern ‘learning how’ to be a couple therapist.
It is understandable that every couple therapist begins his or her career as a novice. But it is not your responsibility to help train marriage therapists. It is your responsibility to get the very best relationship help possible. And with an inexperienced therapist, as with any inexperienced doctor, mistakes can be made, and your situation may worsen.
In spite of the risks of going to an agency that subsidizes your treatment, sometimes the need to talk with someone is so urgent that this is your best option and may be the right thing for you to do. If this is the case, you should proceed, but with caution.
Generally, we get what we pay for. If you can hire a top-notch therapist rather than saving money at an agency, you should do so. If you are like most people, you make all kinds of purchases with your credit card with the intent to pay for the purchase later. There is nothing more important than your marriage or committed relationship, and paying for it with a credit card, when necessary, is smart!
#5 Forums, Discussion Groups
Some couples turn to relationship help forums, discussion groups, and websites that provide commentary in an attempt to address their relationship problems. These groups are often run by and populated with lay individuals who have no legitimacy advising people regarding their complex relationship issues. These people often have serious relationship problems that they themselves cannot solve. It is hypocritical that they think they can help solve other people’s problems, including yours! The value of your relationship is far too important to just let any person who desires to stick their nose into your affairs do so.
Forums and discussion groups may be good for support, but they will likely not help you solve your marriage or committed relationship problems. In fact, getting unilateral support without any input from your partner may even embolden you to continue making your mistakes since the tendency in groups like these is to agree with and encourage one another. If your relationship is in trouble, keep your problems private. Share your relationship challenges only with appropriate professionals, not lay individuals who thrive on gossip.
#6 Fake Couple Therapists
Good relationship therapy is an exact science. Not every person who claims they can help your relationship has the necessary knowledge, training, or experience to back up their claims. Rather, they may only be in the relationship business to make a buck or develop a cult following. Only trust a fully qualified relationship expert, not just anyone who ‘pops up’ on the screen of your device, peddling relationship advice and services!
The following are not qualifications for saving a person’s marriage from destruction:
- Business leaders
- Professional degrees unrelated to relationship therapy (accounting, business, marketing, naturopathic health, etc.)
- Professional writers
- Wannabe professionals —’ My personal experience is enough’
- Ministers, Rabbis not qualified as relationship experts
- Lawyers (Just because they can help people get divorced does not mean that they can help people stay married)
- Dog trainers (Yes, I actually read the sales pitch of a so-called marriage coach, claiming his expertise was based on his success training dogs!)
- Medical doctors and nurses who have not taken the necessary training to qualify them as experts in relationship dynamics
- and similar non-qualifications…
Such individuals are not qualified to help you with your relationship problems. Don’t trust them, and don’t be fooled by them! If you do, it is highly likely your situation will worsen. These ‘self-proclaimed’ relationship gurus may offer you expensive courses that you can download, expensive home visits, or group classes. I caution you regarding using their services since they are not qualified in any skill other than how to make a profit from uninformed consumers, desperate for help in an unregulated field. Sadly, the internet is highly populated with these impostors. Stay away from them!
#7 Free Marriage Counseling Online
As you know from my above comments, I am a strong proponent of working directly with a qualified couple therapist. However, I know that not everyone can afford their services. As a properly trained and qualified relationship specialist, I have built this website to offer free marriage counseling online to everyone worldwide. And it truly is Free!
As a legitimate professional, I have created the tools and information on my website. You can rely on it to be of professional quality and standard. Learn more about the efficacy of Online Relationship Education.
There are books you can purchase from my website that cost only a few dollars. In addition, I have created many articles, quizzes, and videos to help you with your troubled relationship. Thousands of people have already used and benefited from my free online services. Thus, a DIY option, as found on this website, Marriage Counseling Self-help, may be your best choice or as a supplement to other resources when you cannot afford or find an appropriate therapist to help you solve your relationship problems.
You are invited to take as much free self-help marriage and committed relationship education and information as you need and as often as you like from my website. I suggest you bookmark my site so you can get back to it easily. Take advantage of my free couples counseling on how to fix a broken marriage or committed relationship! Doing so will be good for you and everyone in your family.
If you need more help beyond what I have provided on this website, I encourage you to continue your research seeking the best types of marriage counseling available. Finding the right relationship resources is like finding the right doctor for a serious ailment.
Likely nothing in your life will impact you more than the quality of your couple relationship. When you need help… finding the right tools is essential!
Wishing you and your family the very best,
Abe Kass, MA RSW RMFT
Professional couple and family therapist and author of this article, The 7 Types Of Couples Therapy.
Relationship problems? Do something about it!
Don’t be foolish and ignore your relationship problems! If you do, they will probably become worse. Ignored relationship problems are not unlike an untreated infection. Only a fool with an infection would take chances with their health and not get appropriate medical attention.
Without professional medical intervention, an infection can get so bad that a limb requires amputation or worse, lead to death. The same is true with your valued relationship — your marriage or committed relationship. Ignoring relationship problems is perilous to your well-being and to the well-being of each member of your family!
In my busy counseling practice, I have witnessed countless troubled couples turn their relationship around. Love, respect, understanding, and the enjoyment of one another’s company have become the norm. As well, I know many couples have found other ways to make significant and meaningful improvements in their relationships.
Don’t let your relationship problems fester and become worse. Find the right help for you and your partner. If you have children, having loving parents who are committed to one another is the greatest gift they will ever get in their lives.