Marriage Counseling
Couples Therapy

Is There a Difference?

Marriage counseling and couples therapy are different. At least, many in the business try to make a distinction. But they overlap so much, you probably wouldn’t notice. Adding to the confusion is the fact that we all use the terms interchangeably. You’ll want to understand the differences so that your expectations get met and you improve your chances for success. You will also want to check with your insurance to see what they will pay for and what they won’t.

Marriage counseling tends to deal with present events more than past events. Counselors provide advice and/or show you how to develop your own rational solutions. Couples therapy also does this, but the problems dealt with have a history, creating unhealthy patterns of relating. Some therapists look for the reasons behind the emotions that drive these patterns. All therapists, if they know what they’re doing, help you to alter how the two of you relate, creating healthier patterns.[1][2]

So the goals in both can be the same, such as reduce conflict, change behavior, change your responses to your spouse’s behavior, find realistic and practical solutions, and empower you as a couple to make a terrific marriage. These are, of course, just a few of the goals commonly dealt with in marriage counseling. Yours may be different and more specific.

Counseling generally takes fewer sessions than therapy, but even here you will find overlap. For either, sessions usually run 50 minutes once a week. In some cases, it is more effective to have longer and more frequent sessions at the beginning.[3]

Marriage counseling vs couples therapy? The terms, along with marital therapy and others, are used interchangeably everywhere, and on this website. Same with counselor and therapist. Don’t let it bother you.

Next: The Advantages of, and Resistance to, Couples Therapy

Return from Marriage Counseling vs. Couples Therapy to Marriage Counseling Introduction

Return from Marriage Counseling vs Couples Therapy to Marriage Guardian Home Page

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[1] ^ Raymond L. Richmond, PhD, “Psychology: Clinical and Counseling – and Licensure,” July 13, 2011,
[2] ^ “Relationship Counseling,” July 14, 2011,
[3] ^ Terence Patterson, Comprehensive Handbook of Psychotherapy, Vol. 2: Cognitive-Behavioral Approaches, John Wiley & Sons, 2002. P. 366.
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Wondering If Counseling/
Therapy Is  the Best Course Of Action?

Will a counselor or therapist help or make matters worse? Hard to say, which is why Marriage Guardian has so much information about counseling. I want you to have the best chance of finding the right help.

But, for whatever reason you may have, if you are unsure you want a counselor or therapist involved, try the Save the Marriage program first. It costs less than one session of counseling and has a 60-day money-back guarantee. Learn more about the Save the Marriage program by clicking here.