One of the most common questions about couples therapy is, “how much does couples therapy cost?” The cost of couples therapy can vary depending on different factors such as the therapist’s credentials, location, paneling with insurance, approach to working with couples, and more. Of course, it’s undeniable that there is a financial cost to couples therapy, and there is also what you invest emotionally, which can be just as important.
Read on to learn more about things to think about when you’re examining the cost of couples therapy so you can be prepared if you should ever feel ready to seek out services.
Do I Need Couples Therapy?
Couples therapy can be incredibly helpful for couples who need support or guidance working through conflicts or making improvements to aspects of their relationship. Some couples like to work with a marriage counselor before they officially get married. That said, couples therapy can help couples of all stages of relationships, whether they are dating, married, separated, or going through a breakup/divorce.
If there is an aspect of your relationship that you’d like to work on, whether it be improving communication, exploring ways to expand your sex life, or planning for the future, couples therapy can be a helpful space to learn tools and insight from an objective third party. It’s important to know that couples therapy is not just for severe relationship issues. In fact, the sooner you start couples therapy when an issue arises, it’s likely that you have a better chance of working through the issue quickly as opposed to letting it fester.
Private Pay vs. Using Insurance
When it comes to couples therapy, and many other medical and behavioral health services, it can be important to understand the difference between the concept of private pay and utilizing insurance benefits.
If a couples therapist says they are private pay or out of network, this typically means that they are not paneled or contracted with any insurance providers and thus payment for services is out of pocket. Although you are paying out of pocket for these services, most therapists can provide you with what’s called a superbill, which you can submit your insurance provider for out of network reimbursement.
Private pay rates are dependent on the fee the therapist sets and can look different depending on several factors. Therapists who are earlier in their career may offer a lower rate as they continue to build upon their experience, whereas therapists who are more seasoned and specialized might have a higher price point. Some therapists charge a certain amount based on where they are located and/or licensed. For example, couples therapy services in New York City will likely look different than rates for therapists in Idaho due to the differences in cost of living.
Therapists tend to set their rates based on the market value of the service they offer so they typically do research into what price point makes sense given the economy of the location where they see clients. Therapists who specialize in couples therapy may charge more for their services compared to individual therapy so you’ll want to be sure to inquire about rates for couples sessions.
Before starting couples therapy, if you plan to utilize superbills, it can be beneficial to call your insurance plan beforehand to confirm the benefits and requirements pertinent to your exact plan. Superbill eligibility and reimbursement rates are not universal so you will want to inquire with your insurance to know more about your plan.
If you want to seek out a couples therapist who is paneled with your insurance company, it’s still important to make sure all details are verified before officially starting services. You’ll likely want to verify with your insurance that the provider you want to work with is in network. This can be done giving your insurance provider a call, or sometimes, a therapist/therapy practice will offer to verify benefits for you.
If you plan to utilize health insurance benefits for couples therapy, you likely will still need to pay a co-pay, so it’s also worth making sure you know what that amount is to avoid any surprises at the time of service.
Questions you can ask to verify if couples therapy sessions are covered by insurance:
- Does your plan cover couples therapy or couples counseling services?
- Does your plan limit you to a certain number of sessions?
- What would be your co-pay for relationship counseling?
- What is your deductible for in-network benefits?
- Does your plan require pre-authorization for psychotherapy?
- Do you have any out-of-network benefits (if you plan to submit superbills for reimbursement)
Sliding Scale Rates
Sliding scale rates are reduced rates for mental health services offered to those who need financial assistance. Sliding scale rates can be helpful for folks who are not able to sustainably pay the standard rate. A lot of therapists will offer some sliding scale spaces for clients who could benefit from a lower rate. When interviewing therapists, if you are not able to pay their full fee, it doesn’t hurt to see if they have any sliding scale options.
Some therapist’s sliding scale rates will be set with consideration of the monthly household income someone makes. In this case, you may be asked to submit proof of income so the therapist can ensure that you meet a threshold for their sliding scale requirements. Other therapists might not require any documentation, so you’ll want to ask about any requirements for qualifying for a sliding scale rate when you interview potential therapist options.
Alternative Low-Cost Options
If you’re having a difficult time finding a therapist who aligns with your budget, it may be advantageous to seek out options for low-cost services via community mental health clinics. Most cities have at least one or a few community mental health clinics that are able to offer services at a low cost, oftentimes a pay-what-you-can structure. Depending on the clinic and their availability, you may be paired with a pre-licensed clinician who is under supervision, though some fully licensed therapists will also be available at these clinics.
The unfortunate downside with going this route is there can sometimes be long wait periods due to the high demand for low-cost therapy services. You may be placed on a waitlist until a spot becomes available, which depending on the state of your relationship could be frustrating if you are looking for support sooner rather than later.
The Investment(s) of Couples Therapy
Financial stability is incredibly important and it’s an unfortunate reality that mental health services for couples, and in general, can be inaccessible for some. It’s understandable that there can be reservations about making a financial commitment, though it’s worth assessing the needs of your relationship and it may be a necessary decision if your relationship is significantly struggling.
The financial investment of couples therapy can be an important conversation for a couple to have before getting started with a therapist. Before interviewing therapists, it could help to have a conversation with each other about your finances and what feels realistic regarding your budget. Once you know how much of your budget you have available for therapy, it can help you decide which route you can go in terms of private pay, insurance, or utilizing low-cost therapy services.
The investment into couples therapy is more than just a financial one. You are also investing your time, your vulnerability, and your emotions. If your relationship is in dire need of support, it’s worth the investments you put into it in order to repair and reconnect.