Unlike individual therapy, marriage counseling involves delving into the dynamics of a complicated relationship between two individuals–each with their own feelings, needs and issues.
In general, marriage counseling can take anywhere from a few months (about 10-12 sessions) to a year or more.
Sessions are generally about 50 minutes, although some therapists utilize a 75 or 90 minute model for marital sessions. So much depends on the couple, their issues and the approach the counselor uses.
Good marriage counseling is strategic. There is a plan for addressing issues. Therapists are trained in and use different evidence-based approaches. Some approaches are more time-intensive that others. It doesn’t mean one is better or worse than another.
The types of problems couples bring to therapy affect the time counseling may take. Some couples come to counseling with a few, relatively straightforward issues. Most couples, however, have tried dealing with issues on their own for a long, long time. They come with a lot of damage to heal.
Still others come with some very complicated issues such as comorbid mental illness. Every couple is different in how easily these issues can be resolved.
So the real answer to the question of how long it takes is that it depends. As you begin working with your therapist, he or she will discuss an appropriate treatment plan with you.