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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 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 therapist, 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

If you’re looking for the best premarital counseling platform for your needs, you can start by considering your budget. Some services take insurance, but others don’t. If you choose a platform that doesn’t accept insurance, make sure you can cover the cost out of pocket.

Group premarital counseling is an option if desired. Other services offer combinations of individual sessions and couple sessions. You and your partner might choose to take a course instead of speaking with a counselor, or to find a service that lines up with your religious beliefs.

Finally, if you want continued access to your counselor after you tie the knot, some premarital counseling platforms offer the option to keep going after the wedding.

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.

Helping you find the right support resources is important to us, and counseling is not a one-size-fits-all service. When considering what types of products or services to recommend, Healthline’s experts consider several factors.

  • Is the science behind the product or service backed by scientific evidence? Evidence-based practice guides the healthcare system in the United States. This means that therapies and actions are guided by theories that have been researched, tested, and re-evaluated for the best possible outcomes.
  • Is the product or service validated by a third party? Third-party validation is a process where an independent, outside organization reviews a product or service for quality and safety. Using third-party validation can add a layer of confidence and trust, especially for something you are using for the first time.
  • Has the company secured the necessary approvals, or been reprimanded for any wrongdoing? The Healthline vetting process includes steps to make sure a product or service has the required industry licenses or approvals, as well as to check for lawsuits, complaints, or regulatory actions that may indicate a problem with the safety of a product or that business practices of the company.
  • What do we know about the company and how it does business? The vetting process also includes a look into how ingredients are sourced, how a company does business, marketing practices, customer support, and more. Companies that are recommended by Healthline must meet certain ethical, business, and social standards that take into account things like fairness, sustainability, and diversity.

In addition to these criteria, our vetting teams and mental health experts also consider things like positive online reviews, favorable news coverage, and attributes of each service that cater to a specific community or need.

Best for busy couples

ReGain

  • Appointment Types: Text, audio, video
  • Pros: Services are private and flexible to meet your needs.
  • Cons: You are matched with a counselor by a computer, not a person, and this process could take several days.
  • Can Medications Be Prescribed? No
  • How We Chose: The highlight of this service was the flexibility offered in time and scheduling options for busy couples. Read our full review of Regain here.
  • Price: about $60–$90 per week, based on the therapist
  • Insurance Accepted? No

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 coaching

OurRelationship

  • Appointment Types: Coaching by phone for an additional cost
  • Pros: Self-guided video packages can allow couples to explore topics at their own schedule and pace.
  • Cons: There is no direct counseling involved, but personalized coaching by phone is available for an additional fee.
  • Can Medications Be Prescribed? No
  • How We Chose: This services offers a low-cost option that may be preferred by couples who are trying counseling for the first time. The self-guided model can be ideal for couples who are hesitant to seek in-person therapy.
  • Price: about $50-$150
  • Insurance Accepted? No

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.

  • Appointment Types: In-person or online
  • Pros: Individualized sessions are led by licensed counselors over a period of weeks, and there is an option for continued support.
  • Cons: Sessions may be difficult to schedule based on your schedule, and there is a substantial time commitment for this program.
  • Can Medications Be Prescribed? No
  • How We Chose: This services offers personalized counseling services that are comprehensive and can be ongoing. In-person options may be preferable for some couples.
  • Price: $119, $159, or $199 per hour, depending on the therapist
  • Insurance Accepted? No

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 therapists 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 therapist 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

Talkspace

  • Appointment Types: Text and video
  • Pros: Flexible and easy to access.
  • Cons: This format may lack some of the personal connection and tailored support of traditional therapy.
  • Can Medications Be Prescribed? No
  • How We Chose: This services is unlimited and highly flexible and can be ideal for couples who struggle with specific, general issues. Read our full review of Talkspace here.
  • Price: Starting at $99 per week
  • Insurance Accepted? Yes* (While Talkspace works with insurance providers, few plans cover the service.)

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. We suggest that prospective clients research the therapist’s credentials prior to scheduling an appointment to ensure the therapist is trained and qualified to provide couples therapy.

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

Lasting

  • Appointment Types: None
  • Pros: This services provides resources that can be used to supplement other counseling programs.
  • Cons: There is no option for one-on-one counseling.
  • Can Medications Be Prescribed? No
  • How We Chose: While not an individualized or direct counseling service, Lasting can provide resources to help a couple in their own self-guided journey, or during sessions with an independent counselor.
  • Price: Starting at $19.99 per month for two users, free 7-day trial
  • Insurance Accepted? No

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

Growing Self

  • Appointment Types: Online and in-person
  • Pros: This company offers a set program, live online classes, or individual counseling sessions.
  • Cons: Since services are provided by specific counselors, availability and scheduling options may be limited. Text services are not available.
  • Can Medications Be Prescribed? No
  • How We Chose: Growing Self offers a variety of therapy structures targeted at addressing whatever issue you are facing.
  • Price: $55–$250, based on the therapist
  • Insurance Accepted? No, but assistance in submitting claims is available

Growing Self offers a variety of premarital counseling options, including private premarital counseling. The licensed therapist 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.”

For couples looking for a more structured program, Growing Self also offers an online program and class. Clients can choose from 45-minute sessions.

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

  • Appointment Types: None
  • Pros: This online, self-guided video series can help you and your partner navigate specific issues you may encounter in your relationship.
  • Cons: This is a self-guided course only, and no individualized counseling services are offered.
  • Can Medications Be Prescribed? No
  • How We Chose: This service may be useful for couples with a limited budget who want help opening the door to specific topics or issues in their relationship.
  • Price: $97
  • Insurance Accepted? No

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 coaching

Relationship Hero

  • Appointment Types: Video, phone, text
  • Pros: Group coaching can offer brainstorming and other support from peers with shared experiences.
  • Cons: No individualized therapy is offered, only coaching services.
  • Can Medications Be Prescribed? No
  • How We Chose: The group coaching option is a unique service that can help you connect with other couples and share experiences and solutions.
  • Price: $79-$229
  • Insurance Accepted? No

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.

Deciding what type of couples therapy is best for you is a personal decision. Couples who want to explore topics or relationship issues in general may find benefit from lower cost options like self-guided video series.

On the other hand, couples with specific relationship issues may be best served by personalized counseling with a licensed therapist.

Additionally, some of the options on our list include coaching, which varies from counseling. Coaches don’t need to have a license to practice, while counselors may have the authority to provide mental health diagnoses and specialize in different types of psychotherapy like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or interpersonal therapy.

Instead, a coach may help clients set a goal and work with them to achieve it via support, guidance, and education.

ReGainOurRelationshipCouples Therapy, Inc.TalkspaceLastingGrowing SelfHappily Ever AfterRelationship Hero
Pricing$60–$90 per week$50–$150 $119, $159, or $199 per hourstarts at $99 per weekstarts at $19.99 per month for 2 users (free 7-day trial)$55–$250$97$79–$229
Insurancenononoyes, but few plans cover the servicenono, but assistance in submitting claims is availablenono
Appointment typestext, audio, videoonline program (coaching by phone for additional cost)in-person or onlinetext or videononein-person or onlinenonetext, audio, video
Considerations and featureshighly flexible scheduling; matched with counselor by computergo at your own pace; no direct counseling involvedoption for continued support; program requires substantial time commitmentflexible and accessible; lacks personal connection and tailored supportprovides resources that supplement other counseling programs; no one-on-one counselingset program, live online classes, or individual counseling sessions; availability and scheduling options are limitedself-guided video series; no direct counseling involvedgroup coaching sessions; no individualized services

Many of the services listed above offer some form of an assessment tool that can help you decide what types of services are the right fit for your needs. You may also want to consider asking for a trial period before deciding on a service.

In premarital counseling, you can expect to address topics like:

  • finances
  • spiritual beliefs
  • core values
  • communication
  • expectations for your marriage
  • conflict resolution
  • sexuality
  • family planning
  • family of origin strengths and weaknesses

While the details will vary based on your counselor and your relationship, specific questions asked might include:

  • What are your core values and beliefs?
  • What role do you each expect to play in your marriage?
  • How do you plan to handle finances and spending versus saving?
  • How will you address conflict and arguments?
  • Do you want to have children?
  • What does sex mean to you?
  • How will you handle your relationships with your families?

If you’re getting ready to walk down the aisle, premarital counseling might be at the bottom of your to-do list. However, premarital counseling from a professional counselor can be beneficial to every engaged couple, no matter your situation.

It may be especially important to see a professional counselor if your relationship is affected by issues like:

  • chronic illness or disability
  • trauma
  • if you or your partner have experienced divorce or abuse

Can you get married without premarital counseling?

Yes, you can get married without premarital counseling. However, it can be a good idea. In these counseling sessions, you’ll learn tools to communicate with your partner and set expectations for your life together and your overall relationship.

What’s the difference between couples counseling and premarital counseling?

Couples counseling is generally used for couples going through a rough patch and who need to address a specific issue.

With premarital counseling, your counselor may take a broader approach, teaching you tools to use if and when you run into disagreements down the road. Premarital counseling is proactive, while couples counseling tends to be reactive.

What’s the difference between counseling and coaching?

Mental health coaches don’t need to have a license to practice, while licensed counselors may have the authority to diagnose mental health conditions and specialize in different types of psychotherapy, like CBT or interpersonal therapy. Instead, a coach may help clients set a goal and work with them to achieve it via support, guidance, and education.

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.

There are a number of options for premarital counseling, and online services and self-guided packages offer a lot of flexibility for busy couples. Many of the services in this list offer free trial periods or assessment tools that can help you find the right service for you and your partner.


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.