You already know you’re a good match. Let us share the science of staying that way.
There is little doubt within the scientific community that premarital counseling is associated with positive outcomes for newlyweds (Hahlweg & Markman, 1988; Stanley et al, 2006; Carroll & Doherty, 2003.) Couples who go to premarital counseling experience a 30% increase in measures of relationship health (Carroll & Doherty, 2003; Stanley et al, 2006) and are more likely to seek help if needed in the future (Williamson et al, 2014). Why? We can’t say for sure what causes the correlation, but it seems plausible that an investment in exploring the research around long term healthy relationships towards the beginning of a life together might pay dividends as the decades pass.
There’s no question that certain habits are associated with long term relationship health, and others prove quite toxic. However, what leads to a long term viable marriage is not always intuitive. Premarital counseling is the process of sharing what decades of relationship research has revealed and exploring how you might apply this data in your own unique lives.
The premarital counseling package at Psychological Services of Alaska includes five sessions; three sessions occur with both partners in the room and each partner gets one additional individual session. We make use of validated questionnaire instruments designed to give us insight into each of you as individuals as well as the relationship you’ve created. After the last session, Dr. Reynolds will write a report documenting the process, which can be used as a reference in the years to come.
Frequently asked questions about premarital counseling at Psychological Services of Alaska
Does Premarital Counseling at PSA take any certain religious perspective?
No. Many premarital counseling services come from a person’s church or other religious group, but at PSA we’re psychologists. Psychologists are mandated by regulations as well as our professional ethics to provide services in a way that’s consistent with our client’s value system. At PSA we welcome the diversity of our clients and strive to incorporate their strengths, including their religious and spiritual strengths, into the premarital counseling process.
How long does the process take? What if we don’t have time to finish before the ceremony?
Some people, usually when traveling from out of town, complete the process in one day. However, most finish in about a month, usually meeting every week. Though it’s helpful to do this proactive work during your engagement, it’s never too late to prepare for a successful life together.
Is there any chance we’ll be told we shouldn’t get married?
No; that decision belongs to the couple, not the therapist. You already know you’re a good fit for each other, Premarital Counseling at PSA is about identifying your unique strengths and weaknesses as a couple, comparing these assets and liabilities to what science tells us about long term happy marriages, and exploring how this knowledge can support your long term relationship.
Will my insurance cover premarital counseling services?
In most cases, premarital counseling is considered a “well visit”. Most insurance plans don’t cover such psychological services, though it may be prudent to check with your individual plan to be sure. Clients at PSA pay for the service in full at the time it’s provided; the provider supplies a “superbill” which is a receipt containing medical information that allows the client to file a claim with their insurance carrier if they choose.
What is the cost of the Premarital Counseling Package?
The cost, including 5 sessions, the measurement tools, as well as the written report, is $2000.00.
Carroll, J. S., & Doherty, W. J. (2003). Evaluating the effectiveness of premarital prevention programs: A meta-analytic review of outcome research. Family Relations, 52 (2), 105-118.
Gottman, J. M. (1993). The roles of conflict engagement, escalation, and avoidance in marital interaction: A longitudinal view of five types of couples. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 61(1), 6-15.
Gottman, J. M. (1994). What Predicts Divorce: The Relationship Between Marital Processes and Marital Outcomes. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Gottman, J. M. & Silver, N. (1999). The Seven Principles for Making Marriages Work. 129-155. New York: Three Rivers Press.
Gottman, J. M., Coan, J., Carrere, S. & Swanson, C. (1998). Predicting marital happiness and stability from newlywed interactions. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 60, 5-22.
Gottman, J. M. & Levenson, R. W. (2000). Timing of divorce: Predicting when a couple will divorce over a 14-year period. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 737-745.
Hahlweg, K. & Markman, H. J.(1988). Effectiveness of behavioral marital therapy: Empirical status of behavioral techniques in preventing and alleviating marital distress. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56(3), 440-447.
Lavner, J. A.. Karney, B. R. & Bradbury, T. N. (2013). Newlyweds’ optimistic forecasts of their marriage: For better or for worse? Journal of Family Psychology, 27(4), 531-540.
Smith, D. A.. Vivian, D., & O’Leary, K. D. (1990). Longitudinal prediction of marital discord from premarital expressions of affect. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 58(6), 790-798.
Stanley, S. M.. Amato, P. R.. Johnson, C. A.. & Markman, H. J. (2006). Premarital education, marital quality, and marital stability: Findings from a large, random household survey. Journal of Family Psychology, 20(1), 117-126.
Whitton, S. W.. Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M.. Markman, H. J.. & Whitton, S. W. (2008). Effects of parental divorce on marital commitment and confidence. Journal of Family Psychology, 22(5), 789-793.
Williamson, H. C.. Trail, T. E.. Bradbury, T. N.. & Karney, B. R. (2014). Does premarital education decrease or increase couples’ later help-seeking? Journal of Family Psychology, 28(1), 112-117.