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How Long Does Marriage Counseling Last?

by Amy Morin, studioD

Marriage counseling helps couples resolve a variety of relationship problems, ranging from disagreements about parenting to infidelity. There usually isn't a predetermined number of sessions required to complete marriage counseling. Instead, the number of sessions a couple requires depends on various factors, such as a couple's treatment goals, the marriage counselor's therapeutic techniques and the frequency of appointments.

Session Length and Frequency

The length and frequency of each marriage counseling session play a role in how many sessions are necessary to complete treatment. While some counselors prefer to keep marriage counseling appointments to a standard 50-minute session, others offer varied appointment lengths. For example, marriage counselors at The Couples Counseling Associates of Chicago offer couples extended appointment times -- sometimes over two hours in length -- depending on the couple's needs. The frequency of appointments varies as well, ranging from two times per week to once every six months.

Brief Marriage Counseling

Some marriage counselors use brief interventions that only require a few marriage counseling sessions. Brief interventions, such as solution-focused therapy, typically last between four and 12 sessions, according to the San Jose Couples Counseling website. Treatment may even be as short as three to six sessions. Instead of spending time exploring the problem, counselors using brief techniques focus on the solution. Couples attending solution-focused therapy establish goals and begin working toward those goals immediately, without trying to uncover the root of the problem.

Short-Term Marriage Counseling

Several short-term marriage counseling interventions require up to 20 counseling appointments. Time-sensitive techniques, such cognitive-behavioral therapy, usually last between 10 and 20 sessions, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Couples quickly learn how to identify maladaptive thoughts and behaviors and to replace these with more productive responses. Emotionally focused therapy is another short-term intervention that tends to last between eight and 20 sessions, according to the International Center for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy's website. Emotionally focused therapy teaches couples how to use their emotional reactions to create intimacy in the relationship.

Long-Term Marriage Counseling

Sometimes a couple's problems require long-term treatment that lasts for several years. At other times, marriage counselors prefer to treat couples over the course of years to ensure that their marriages remains healthy. Marriage counselors may slowly reduce the frequency of appointments over time. Meeting for "checkup" sessions minimizes a couple's risk for relapse, according to the Relationship Center of Jacksonville's website. A marriage counselor may continue to meet with a couple for follow-up sessions for two years post-treatment to ensure the couple continues to make progress.

About the Author

Amy Morin has been writing about parenting, relationships, health and lifestyle issues since 2009. Her work appears in many print and online publications, including Mom.me and Global Post. Morin works as a clinical therapist and a college psychology instructor. Morin received her Master of Social Work from the University of New England.

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