Marital therapy is a treatment designed to help improve a marriage by increasing communication and understanding between married partners. This type of therapy is performed in a variety of settings, from group sessions with several couples, to individual meetings with each partner to discuss issues they may be afraid to raise in front of their spouse. Marital therapy usually takes place under the guidance of a licensed therapist, often one who specializes in marriage and family therapy.
Treatment will be based upon the the therapist's experience and the preferences of his or her clients. Sessions are scheduled at the discretion of the clients, though are typically not more than once a week unless the married couple is facing a severe crisis. Depending on what the therapist suggests, both married partners may spend the whole session together, or the therapist may meet with each person individually before bringing the couple together.
Common recommendations from a therapist may include books to read, written or oral exercises to do and share, and trust-building games. Usually, the sessions are based on the current state of the marriage, and so the focus of the meeting may change from one week to the next.
Marital therapy is designed to help married couples through any situation that comes up in a marriage. Infidelity, boredom, lack of desire, abuse, or problems with children are all topics that can be discussed within the bounds of marital therapy. Most therapists do not only work with couples in crisis; even happy couples who simply want to improve their communication skills or problem-solve better can benefit from marital therapy.
The cost of marital therapy will depend heavily on the therapist. Typically, those with more experience charge more, but some may offer a sliding scale or low-cost assistance to clients in a difficult financial situation. Group marital therapy, where several couples meet with one therapist, may also be less expensive than individual sessions. Even if a couple in trouble can only go once or twice a month, their marriage may greatly improve because of it.
Prospective clients should know that marital therapy is not a cure-all. Often, couples do not seek out a therapist until recovery from damage is all but impossible. At the very least, both married partners should be committed to finding out if there is a way to save their marriage. If one partner has already given up, it is unlikely that he or she will participate fully in the therapy or allow any change to take place.