Let me start this blog today by acknowledging that it is incredibly self serving. I'm going to tell you the reasons that couple's therapy is a good investment even while it is expensive. Since this is how I make my living, I can hardly be considered an objective source of information. My only defense is that is that I completely believe what I'm about to say. So while it may sound self serving from one angle, from another it is logically consistent that since I believe in what I do I also believe it's worth paying for.
Couples therapy in the Bay area will cost between $100-$150 per session, depending on therapist. It will cost less if you have insurance that will cover a part of it. Kaiser no longer provides couples therapy. Now for most all of us, that is a lot of money to spend for one hour of a professional's time, especially when there are so many competing claims for our discretionary, after tax dollars.
The first thing I tell clients is to think of the expense in aggregate, not in individual sessions. If you think each time you walk in the door that you are spending $2 per minute, or you spent the cost of a good pair of children's shoes for this hour, or the cost of a dress for your daughter's prom, you'll drive yourself crazy.
If you think about it in aggregate, I think it will seem different. Let's take a "worst case" scenario, though I don't like to use that term to describe couples needing to come for a longer period of time. Let's say a couple needs to come every week for two years, and they need to pay $150 per session. But after two years, they have a solid marriage, an ability to resolve differences when they come up. The atmosphere in their home is peaceful and loving. Their children live in the warmth of their connection and learn from their example what it looks like when two people work together, love each other, and put the needs of the relationship before their own needs. These children in turn will find partners and walk a similar path, and the ripple effects from this couple's improved relationship extend both within the home and in their relationships with other people.
People who are happy in their marriage move in the world with a greater sense of
security and a greater trust in the world and in people. This is why I think I have the most important job in the world: if all is well with the couple, all is well with the family. If all is well with the family, all is well with the community. If all is well with the community, all is well with the nation. And if all is well with the nation, all is well with the world.
To return to the example just cited, how much did it cost for this solid relationship, whose value actually can't be estimated? It cost $15,000, the price of a new Corolla. Would you "purchase" such a new relationship for the cost of a compact car?
And all of this leaves unsaid the worst case alternative, divorce. What is the cost of a divorce, in terms of separate households, legal fees, and upset kids? So yes, this message is self serving, but I hope now you can see why I sincerely believe it to be true.
Do you have a question about your marriage or relationship? Ask Josh in the comments below or email him at email@example.com.
Josh Gressel, Ph.D., is a couples therapist based in Pleasant Hill, CA. Visit his website at joshgressel.com.