What percentage of couples who go to counseling stay together?

The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists reports an overall success rate of 98%. However, other research suggests that couples counseling has a limited effect. US studies place the counseling success rate between 11 and 18%. Not only does it seem like it doesn't work for most people, but most people don't think about having it.

A BBC survey revealed that 75% of married couples with children had ever had serious problems in their marriage; of those, only 8% had sought counseling. Often, when couples seek help, their relationship is already in its throes. If you think your chances of success in marriage counseling are low, or if money is tight, there are many marriage counseling alternatives that could give you a better return on your money. While it may not help with more thorny issues, research shows that relationship education can help couples improve their communication skills and levels of relationship satisfaction.

Marriage counseling can be an effective way to heal the relationship and, at the same time, find ways to move forward in marriage after infidelity. Ever since Consumer Reports tried different types of therapy in the 1990s and discovered that marriage counseling was the least effective of all, couples counseling has been treated with skepticism in the press. Couples therapy is so different from individual therapy that they're much less likely to help you if you don't see a counselor who has been specifically trained in couples counseling techniques. Research on the effectiveness of online therapy for individual clients has been promising, especially research on the effectiveness of video counseling sessions (such as these studies from 2002 and 2011), but couple counseling is more complex and introduces more variables into the equation.

This, she hopes, will raise her profile and the role of counseling in saving and maintaining relationships. According to The Chicago Tribune, one of the main reasons marriage counseling doesn't always work is that a significant number of counselors who offer counseling for couples don't know how to do it. If you're the only one who wants to save the marriage, couples counseling is likely to turn into divorce counseling. When a relationship is already broken, marriage counseling often serves to facilitate the separation process, not to actually reverse it.

But while you can benefit from going to counseling on your own, you can't do the work of couples counseling without your partner. It will offer postgraduate degrees in counseling for couples and families and a master's program, and will emphasize research and the measurement of counseling outcomes. Research not only shows that many methods of counseling for couples are effective, but it also shows how and why couples counseling works and what factors increase the likelihood that it will help you.

Keith Haggan
Keith Haggan

Extreme internet nerd. Award-winning zombieaholic. Amateur bacon aficionado. Lifelong pop culture ninja. Typical travel evangelist.