Marriage Counseling: Definition, Types & Statistics

Marriage counseling is a form of psychotherapy for established partners or a married couple. Marriage counseling addresses marital relationship issues in order to improve the relationship. In most cases, both partners attend counseling sessions to discuss specific issues and learn how to resolve marital conflict amicably.

Many health care professionals such as Nurse Practitioners are certified as Marriage and Family Therapists. However, numerous other professionals are capable of offering quality Marriage counseling services. Clinical psychologists, clinical social workers and pastoral counselors routinely perform Marriage counseling.

The Purpose of Marriage Counseling

Marriage counseling can benefit couples in all types of intimate relationships, whether or not they are married.

Some couples use marriage counseling proactively to strengthen the marital bonds and share a better understanding one another. Marriage counseling can also be beneficial to engaged couples to assist in understanding one another and any potential problems prior to marriage.

Most couples seek out marriage counseling as a bid to improve a troubled relationship. Marriage counseling can address specific issues, such as the following:

  • Infidelity
  • Substance abuse
  • Money problems
  • Communication issues
  • Sexual issues
  • Conflicts
  • Anger
  • Divorce

Some couples choose to participate in post-marital counseling. Couples with children in common who are in the midst of divorce often seek the assistance of a counselor in working out their differences. Marriage counseling can assist them in finding common ground as they negotiate various issues and determine child custody.

Description of Marriage Counseling

Marriage counseling is generally limited to a certain number of sessions focused specifically on certain problems and goals within a relationship. Most marriage counselors inquire about the couple’s goals, roles, patterns and beliefs. Marriage counseling is specifically designed to assist the couple in analyzing both the good and bad aspects of the relationship and how to recognize how each partner may be contributing to any marital conflict. Once the source of conflicts are understood, both partners can learn to change how they interact with each other in order to avoid or deal with existing issues.

Selecting a Therapist

Marriage counselors receive training to work with individuals, couples and groups. Most therapists have a minimum of a master’s degree and have specific graduate training in marriage and family therapy.

Couples who are seeking the assistance of a marriage counselor, should evaluate the counselor’s training, education and certification. Additionally, inquiries about treatment experience, fees, insurance coverage, and length of therapy sessions should be pursued. Hiring the right therapist is essential to achieve success in marriage counseling.

What You Can Expect from Marriage Counseling

Marriage counseling can assist couples in learning to address marital conflict. Marriage counseling can prevent small issues from becoming serious problems. Research indicates that marriage counseling can improve the physical and mental well-being for partners in a relationship. In cases where marriage counseling is effective, couples report significant improvements with the relationship.


  1. Managing Conflict During Divorce. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved May 13, 2012, from
  2. Marriage counseling: All – (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved May 13, 2012, from

By C. J. Newton, MA, Editor

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