It is not uncommon for a marriage to hit a rough patch occasionally over the years. It doesn’t mean that your relationship is a failure, or that it is a sign of weakness to seek help. Sitting down with a therapist for marriage counseling may give your relationship the boost it needs to get back on track. Couples counseling provides people with opportunities to work out differences, find ways to communicate better, and get guidance from trained professionals.

If you have been thinking about marriage counseling but are worried about the cost or if it’s the right choice for you and your spouse, here are a few facts about Medicare coverage and what counseling can do for you.

Medicare Insurance Coverage for Marriage Counseling
Medicare coverage of marriage counseling falls under the category of family counseling and mental health care. It is covered by Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance).

Medicare Part B covers 80 percent of the cost of counseling therapy if it is provided by a behavioral health care provider such as a psychiatrist, physician, clinical psychologist, clinical social worker, or a nurse specialist. If you have Medicare Advantage, you will have at least the same coverage as Original Medicare, but many MA plans offer additional benefits.

Medicare does not provide coverage for family or couple counseling if it is with a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) unless they are employees of clinical facilities or are staff members at clinical offices of Medicare eligible practitioners. This is considered “incident two coverage” because a Medicare eligible practitioner must be present at the facility during sessions with MFTs.

How Family Therapy Can Help

Family therapy is a term that includes couples therapy, marriage counseling, and family systems therapy. It is a branch of psychotherapy meant for families and couples, or people in intimate relationships who need different types of behavioral health care.

The goal of this form of therapy or counseling is to guide the partners in troubled relationships through difficult times and to help them develop and grow stronger. Therapists help couples find ways to improve communication, learn to resolve conflict without aggression or anger, and to address issues that are creating problems in the relationship.

According to therapists, some of the more common issues that tend to burden relationships are:

• Breakdown in communication
• Health issues
• Money problems
• Conflicts with children or grandchildren
• Anger issues
• Domestic abuse
• Infidelity
• Substance abuse

Marriage counseling, couples therapy, or family therapy helps people in these relationships learn skills for building better, stronger bonds. They learn how to communicate openly, calmly and clearly, and how to solve problems rationally, without aggression or anger.

Marriage counseling isn’t for everyone, but it may be just what you and your partner need to get through a difficult period in your relationship.

According to clinical psychologists who counsel couples regularly, there are some characteristics of couples that are more suited to counseling. These characteristics are:
• Being open minded and willing to make changes and compromises.
• Having feelings for your spouse, not feeling indifferent.
• Having an external reason for staying together such as financial, to
avoid being alone, to help raise children or grandchildren.
• Having feelings of physical desire for your partner.

Therapists say you don’t have to tick off all the characteristics, just one or two of the above are enough for successful counseling.

The Cost of Marriage Counseling

In the United States, the average hourly charge for marriage counseling, couples therapy, or family therapy from a professional equivalent to those covered through Medicare insurance, is between $75.00 and $150.00. Therapists generally recommend that couples have one hour of therapy per week for a three-month period. With your Medicare insurance Part B, you only pay for 20 percent of that cost as long as your medical provider accepts assignment. All relationships experience problems, no matter how long a couple has been together. Over 50 percent of couples getting therapy end up with a stronger and healthier relationship.

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