What Can We Do If We Can’t Afford Marriage Counseling? 

Sometimes couples report not being able to afford marriage counseling. It’s unfortunate when money becomes a barrier to treatment, however for many, it’s a reality. But don’t give up if you can’t afford to pay for counseling. There are some strategies to help you find affordable resources that can help your marriage.

Check with Your Health Insurance Company

If you or your spouse has health insurance, talk to your health insurance company about coverage.  Many insurance companies have complicated rules about counseling coverage. For example, sometimes insurance companies cover individual therapy and family therapy but not couples counseling. Many mental health agencies and counseling centers will work with you to try and ensure your claims are paid.

If you are not certain about what services are covered you can always contact a local mental health agency and provide them with your insurance information and ask them to help you determine your coverage. With your permission, it’s likely that they will be willing to contact your insurance company on your behalf to discuss what services are covered.

Employee Assistance Programs

Many employers offer employee assistance programs. Employee assistance programs often provide employees with several free counseling sessions with a trained mental health professional. Employers that provide employee assistance programs contract with a few different counselors or mental health agencies to provide free services. Ask your human resource department if your company offers any type of employee assistance program.

Working with a Mental Health Agency

Most mental health agencies will work with you on a payment plan. If you have a high co-pay or a large deductible or no insurance at all, there are usually options. Many agencies offer a sliding scale fee. This allows you to pay for services based on your income level.

Talk with the billing office at a mental health agency to discuss their payment options. For example, they may allow you to pay $10 a month regardless of how much your co-pay is. Contact a variety of mental health agencies, community centers, and counselors in private practice and you’ll likely get a variety of options with payment.

It’s also important to remember that if money is tight you should inform your counselor of this. You may not need to go to counseling every week for a year. Instead, if you can only afford a few sessions, talk to your counselor up front and learn what you can do in between sessions to make as much progress as possible on your own.

Re-Evaluate Your Budget (and Priorities)

If you feel you can’t afford counseling it’s important to re-evaluate your budget and quite possibly, your priorities. I recently had someone tell me he could only afford to attend counseling a few times a year. However, he also discussed how he travels 75 miles two times a week to play golf and he goes bowling every weekend. It was clear that counseling was low on his priority list.

Obviously food and electricity should come before counseling. And you need to pay for gas to get work and clothes for your kids. There are plenty of people who just can’t squeeze counseling into the budget after they pay for the essentials.

However, if you aren’t willing to give up eating out or your next vacation in order to get marriage counseling, it clearly isn’t all that high on your priority list. In order for counseling to be effective, it needs to be a big priority in your life. Take a look at your priorities and see if there are any extras you can cut from your budget to afford marriage counseling.

Inquire About Resources

If you really want to go to counseling but aren’t sure how you can afford it, talk to your doctor. Your doctor’s office may have information available on low cost or free resources in the community. For example, sometimes mental health agencies hire interns who are able to provide free counseling. They are usually supervised closely and can often provide quality counseling.

Another good place to look can be your local hospital. Most hospitals employ social workers who can provide you with information on available services in your community. Contact a hospital social worker to learn about various resources for people who are uninsured or underinsured for counseling.

Self-Help Resources

There are also many free self-help resources available. Obviously, the internet is full of marriage ideas, tips and advice. Just make sure that the articles are written by a reputable source.

Your local library should provide you to access to many books about a variety of marriage topics. There are also many workbooks available. Self-help resources provide a lot of helpful information. However, it’s important to take them step-by-step and to implement the changes into your life. Often, people feel great while they are reading a self-help book but feel disappointed when it doesn’t lead to change.

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