We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.
- Best for busy couples: ReGain
- Best for self-guided help: OurRelationship
- Best for starting out: Couples Therapy, Inc.
- Best for unlimited access: Talkspace
- Best for continuing after marriage: Lasting
- Best for solution-based needs: Growing Self
- Best for budget-focused couples: Happily Ever After
- Best for group therapy: Relationship Hero
If wedding bells are in your future, premarital counseling is a helpful tool to consider. Premarital counseling is a form of therapy that helps couples prepare for long-term commitments, like marriage, and align their futures.
There are a few types of premarital counseling that can help partners build relationship skills, strengthen communication, and nurture a better connection.
“Premarital counseling is very helpful in not only strengthening a relationship but also helping couples prepare for life’s typical transitions: becoming parents, empty nest, retirement, and others,” explains Sofia Robirosa, LMFT, a Miami-based relationship counselor.
This type of counseling is typically led by a licensed family marriage therapist who works with couples to address or identify specific issues within a relationship. “It also sets realistic expectations of what a marriage is like, as well as provides an experience that teaches couples when to seek help for their relationship,” explains Robirosa.
Similar to any form of mental health counseling, premarital counseling helps clients identify behaviors and build a tool kit of resources to support their mental well-being. Whether couples are going through a difficult time or trying to create a life plan together, there are a variety of premarital counseling options available.
While some common traits of therapy echo through premarital counseling, it takes two to tango. Both partners commit to premarital counseling and take part in joint counseling sessions. Sometimes, a therapist will offer both individual sessions and couples sessions. Group premarital counseling is also available online and at certain therapy offices.
No matter what the format, all conversations within premarital counseling stay between the clients and the therapist. “For my clients, premarital counseling is a safe space to be more vulnerable and emotionally close,” says Katie Ziskind, LMFT, RYT500, owner of Wisdom Within Counseling.
Couples can enter with a target area like wedding planning stress, financial concerns, or frequent arguments to address. But premarital counseling is more than issue-specific. It can also allow couples to work with a therapist to discuss the nature of their relationship as a whole.
“Some of my premarital counseling clients come in to address one specific issue; others want to work to learn how to strengthen their overall relationship,” says Robirosa.
“With these couples, I complete an assessment that identifies target areas, but I also go over many tools and strategies to help them enhance communication, conflict management, intimacy, personality differences, in-laws relationships, roles, parenting views, money management, and discuss expectations for the relationship,” she says.
Robirosa suggests that all couples try premarital counseling at some point in their relationship.
Counseling can also help partners with past trauma work to prevent negative patterns from repeating or ease through difficult issues. By working on trauma with a licensed marriage and family counselor, couples can help each other move forward and cope.
“Premarital counseling can help you manage dysfunction from childhood and prevent these negative patterns from repeating,” explains Ziskind.
Spending time on premarital counseling “helps couples develop emotional closeness and trust,” she adds.
Counseling is a personal experience that should match the couples’ needs. Depending on what a couple is looking for or what their priorities are, they can choose a premarital counseling option that works for them.
Couples may prefer online access, want to incorporate their religious beliefs, or find value in hearing the experiences of others in group therapy.
There’s a multitude of premarital counseling programs available to couples wanting to take the next step in their relationship, including:
- one-one-one premarital counseling
- religious premarital counseling
- online premarital counseling courses
- group courses and meetings
- group retreats
- financial and legal premarital counseling
Looking for a premarital counseling program can be overwhelming. With so many options, it can be difficult to find a perfect fit. Understanding in-person counseling may not be a fit for everyone, we’ve rounded up the best online premarital counseling programs and services for couples.
Our list of recommended products is based on positive online reviews, favorable news coverage, and attributes of each service that cater to a specific community or need.
Best for busy couples
Price: about $60–$90 per week, based on the therapist
For couples having difficulty finding time on their calendar, a flexible online therapy service might be the best option.
ReGain is an online relationship counseling platform that’s both accessible and affordable. The platform offers individual and couples counseling via text chat, audio, and video calls, all with licensed therapists. Due to the pool of therapists and online accessibility, counseling is available at any time and can be scheduled around the couples’ needs.
After signing up for the service, couples will share their objectives and be matched with an available licensed therapist. After being matched, couples can sign on together for an audio or video chat with their therapist, or use the text feature to communicate.
The flexible scheduling options make ReGain ideal for those who need to plan around work, errands, and other pressing commitments. According to the platform, some couples do up to three or four short check-ins a week, while others prefer one longer session via phone or video.
The service doesn’t work with insurance companies, so sessions are out of pocket. Couples will be billed monthly but can cancel at any time.
Best for self-guided help
OurRelationship, an online program with self-guided or coaching packages for couples, is a low cost option for those looking to find foundational activities without the guidance of a licensed marriage and family counselor. With more than 5,000 couples surveyed, OurRelationship reports that 94 percent of couples are satisfied with the program.
OurRelationship features a self-guided program that features a series of videos and activities. Some activities will be solo, allowing individuals to focus on tasks and think internally before meeting with their partner to discuss the assignment.
For those who’d prefer the extra guidance, the program is also available with the help of a coach, who can provide support during five 20-minute calls for $150.
Targeted to different types of couples, OurRelationship has programs for heterosexual couples, same-sex couples, and military couples. Each program includes 8 hours of material to be completed over 5 to 8 weeks.
While the program doesn’t take insurance, there is a free coaching program funded by a grant from the Administration for Children and Families. Couples will be asked to share demographics like household income, veteran status, and more to be considered.
Best for starting out
Couples Therapy, Inc.
Price: $119, $159, or $199 per hour, depending on the therapist
For couples who are unsure where improvements can be made, an assessment with a professional can help provide a road map to strengthen their relationship prior to marriage.
Couples Therapy, Inc. is a group with more than 40 licensed counselors practicing in 30 U.S. states and 4 countries.
The company features an online premarital counseling assessment that takes 6 hours to complete. Each couple receives a thorough assessment of their relationship, which Couples Therapy, Inc. calls the “big book,” during the consultation process.
A licensed marriage counseling specialist works with each couple over 3 weeks, meeting weekly for a 2-hour session.
Couples Therapy, Inc. doesn’t take health insurance.
Best for unlimited access
Price: starting at $99 per week
Talkspace is a popular app that’s garnered more than 1 million users and a 4.1-star rating in the App Store. Users can send text, photo, video, and audio messages to a licensed therapist 24-7.
The convenience of the app cuts the commute time of visiting an office and makes things easy for couples who don’t wait to deal with scheduling appointments. Couples take an assessment and can pick a licensed therapist for help with relationship-focused counseling.
The app also offers couples the option of live video sessions and unlimited messaging.
TalkSpace does work with insurance companies, though couples therapy and premarital counseling are typically not covered by most providers. Some employee assistance programs may help offset or cover the costs.
It’s worth mentioning that the company was under review by the Clinical Social Work Association (CSWA) in 2019 because of their display term “text therapy.” The company’s user agreement says, “This site does not provide therapy. It provides therapeutic conversation with a licensed therapist.”
Best for continuing after marriage
Price: starting at $19.99 per month for two users, free 7-day trial
The Lasting app is a great resource for couples wanting to make counseling part of their relationship long after tying the knot. Available for Apple and Android smartphones, the app was started by certified relationship educator Steve Dziedzic.
Backed by Talkspace, the app takes a targeted approach to marriage counseling by providing resources backed by 126 scientific studies.
The Lasting app doesn’t have one-on-one counselors, but the programs can be worked on independently or brought to a counselor. Couples can pair with their partner’s app, take guided sessions together, compare answers, and access live workshops with experts.
With more than 16,000 ratings, Lasting has received 4.7 stars in the App Store and 4.4 in the Google Play store. While Lasting doesn’t accept insurance, the website advises those seeking financial assistance to contact the company.
Best for solution-based needs
Price: $55–$250, based on the therapist
Growing Self offers a variety of premarital counseling options, including private premarital counseling. The licensed counselor allows each couple to focus on areas they’d like to address. The program is described as “flexible, open-ended premarital counseling without time limit or specific structure.”
The company has several offices for potential in-person visits in Colorado, California, and Arkansas, but the service is available online to all.
Best for budget-focused couples
Happily Ever After
What happens when a wedding officiant and a life coach get married? They start an organization to help couples find happiness — at least that’s what Casey and Meygan did. The couple created the Happily Ever After online course to offer resources for couples looking to say “I do.”
The online course isn’t quite counseling, but it provides a self-guided experience that touches on finances, intimacy, communication, conflict, and in-laws.
The $97 course features an assessment, short videos, and worksheets that can be accessed online at any time. “The videos are so authentic that it felt like Casey and Meygan were on our couch helping us work through our problems,” said one reviewer on the website.
Best for group therapy
Relationship Hero offers 24-7 coaching support — not therapy — to more than 50,000 customers, but one thing that makes them unique is their group coaching offerings. The company offers a $100 introductory “strategy session,” individual coaching, and group coaching options on topics like learning the five love languages and habits to build a thriving relationship.
Unlike therapy, Relationship Hero’s coaches don’t take a psychological approach to premarital counseling, but they offer “tactical relationship advice,” according to the New York Times. “We won’t tell you to search your emotions, but give you advice that we think is most proven to get results in the situation,” Liron Shapira said in an interview with the New York Times.
While Relationship Hero doesn’t work directly with insurance companies, they can provide documentation for clients to submit their insurance for potential reimbursement.
Premarital counseling can help couples build tools to communicate, navigate stressors, and grow together. A classic 2004 study showed that premarital counseling increases marital satisfaction by 30 percent.
For couples looking to be proactive in their upcoming marriage or wanting to address issues prior to walking down the aisle, premarital counseling can be a helpful way to strengthen their bond and get on the same page.
Jillian Goltzman is a freelance journalist covering culture, social impact, wellness, and lifestyle. She’s been published in various outlets, including Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Fodor’s Travel Guide. Outside of writing, Jillian is a public speaker who loves discussing the power of social media — something she spends too much time on. She enjoys reading, her houseplants, and cuddling with her corgi. Find her work on her website, blog, Twitter, and Instagram.