If you are wondering how long does marriage counseling take, it depends. There is no hard and fast answer as it depends on whether you are just looking to gain some tools or are in crisis and looking for an emergency intervention. It also depends on the amount of baggage you both bring to the table and how resistant you are to the therapy process and recommendations. And while you may be able to see some progress early on, it could take months before major shifts occur.
What We Recommend
Imago Relationship Therapy recommends 12 weekly 90 minute sessions to truly to be able to measure success. Without the weekly commitment and consistency, you can’t really give it a fair shot to have a meaningful impact. While we used to encourage our couples to attend 12 weekly 90 minute sessions, we didn’t mandate it. However, we did notice that those who followed our recommendations were much more successful.
Why it works
What we did discover was a more profound approach which produced quicker results. Couples in crisis can’t afford to wait months to see if their relationship can be salvaged. They are also quite resistant as they are dealing with a lot of pain so there is a lot of potential resistance. Finally, even a 90 minute session is not sufficient time to adequately work through the pressing issues. We developed an approach that would cut through the baggage and the resistance that so often plagues weekly couples therapy
We discovered that couples need an intensive approach at first to break the ice, dig deep, and give them a reason to recommit. It takes two days, even for couples in a very negative space, to see the big picture, understand why they are going through what they are enduring, and experience that their relationship can be different. While 6 hours each day would be the equivalent to 3 months of weekly hourly sessions, the cumulative effect is much more. Once the two days are over, we include 8 90 minute follow up sessions. The follow up sessions are much more effective as the couple is committed after the two days to do the work. Couples really need them to ensure long-term success as it holds them accountable to the process and serves as a support in case they hit bumps along the road.
Intensives = Success and Faster Results
While some couples may need more assistance, depending on their situation and their willingness to follow treatment recommendations, many couples are on their way after 2 months. For those couples who don’t feel the need for the follow up sessions, we also offer a 2 day group retreat which can also be sufficient to help strengthen their relationship. The group workshop provides the necessary tools for at home follow-up that are perfect for a young couple or a good marriage looking to make it great.
So while the traditional weekly sessions can vary depending on some of the factors we mentioned, we have found that a two day private Marriage Retreat with 2 months of follow-up or a 2 day Group Marriage Retreat can be just what is needed to accomplish what could take months or years of weekly counseling.