How much does counseling cost?

You ask, I answer.

Paying for couples or individual counseling shouldn’t be a guessing game, and I want to be up front with how much counseling costs.  I will answer your question about how it works at my office in San Diego, CA. My goal is to help you budget for your counseling sessions ahead of time, as well as giving you options to pick the right therapist for your situation. 

One of the main questions I get is, “How much does Counseling cost?”

Here are three options that we provide at Estes Therapy in San Diego:


  • Option 1: $150 per session: You can meet with Jennine Estes (that’s me!), a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, for $150 per therapy session and each session is for 50-minutes long. Some people meet with me once a week, other people meet with me every other week or once a month. It all depends on your particular needs, goals set in counseling, and financial situation.
  • Option 2: $100 per session: You can meet with a Marriage and Family Therapist intern (graduated with their master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and currently working on gaining their clinical hours for licensure in California) for $100 per 50-minute counseling session.  The interns receive my direct supervision and I over see each clinical case…basically you are paying for two therapists to focus on your situation at the cost of one intern.  Meet the interns
  • Option 3: Low Fee $70 for low-income families (limited spots available). We don’t let money stand in the way from getting the help you need.  We offer several low fee/low cost slots with high quality therapy services for all individuals in San Diego. No matter where you stand financially, we are here to help you get what you want in life. 
Please call to discuss our counseling services further 619-471-7104.  


San Diego Marriage and Family Therapist and Therapist interns - Jennine Estes, Alicia Roth, Susan Buckley, and Jen Zajac. The interns are supervised by Jennine Estes, MFC#47653.




Are You in Denial About Leaving Your Relationship?


Sometimes you might find yourself in a relationship that is not totally healthy anymore, or where you're no longer happy. Instead of taking the necessary steps to begin to leave your relationship, you stick around and just hope things will be better. When you're stuck in a rut and your partner isn't really trying to work with you, you might just be in denial about what you need to do. On the other hand, if you do still have strong feelings for your partner and hope that things could improve, it might just be time to step up and fight for your relationship. How do you know if you should stay and fight or if you're just in denial about leaving and afraid to admit the truth?

What Percentage of You is Ready to Go?

Are you 50% invested in the relationship, and 50% ready to go? Or are you 99.9% ready to leave the relationship but you're just afraid? On the one hand, even if you only have a very small percentage of your heart  that is not ready to leave, you should put leaving on the shelf and talk to your partner about how to make the relationship better. This is the only way to give saving the relationship a fighting chance. But, if you have tried to put leaving on the shelf and the percentage of you that wants to go keeps growing -- you may just be in denial about what your true feelings are.

How is Your Partner Reacting?

It takes two to tango. If you are willing to fight for the relationship but your partner isn't, you can't fully recover as a couple. Whether you have past relationship wounds, or just burn out, you must both be willing to truly invest. Are you making excuses for your partner? Pretending he has a reason for why he isn't trying, or telling others that he is making strides when you don't really see any signs of effort? If your partner is not really making an effort but you continue to hold out hope for years, you might be in denial about the fact that your spouse just isn't willing to work for the relationship.

How Long Have You Thought About Leaving?

Are your thoughts about leaving fairly new, or have you been considering this action for a long time? If you have been on the fence for a long time, you need to think about what is really keeping you in the relationship. Do you really still see hope for making it work, or are you just afraid of the unknown? If you are only staying because you are afraid to be alone, it's time to step out of denial and take the jump. Your partner can probably sense that you're not truly happy, and you are wasting your time and his.

If you don't know if you're in denial about leaving or should really stay, going to counseling can help you decide what the best course of action is. EFT can help you reconnect with your partner, or come to terms with how to end the relationship.

Do You Need Premarital Counseling in San Diego?


Look for these signs of a relationship that's not ready to walk down the aisle.

If you are engaged and planning on getting married, you may have thought about premarital counseling. My view of premarital counseling is that it can be helpful in some way for most couples planning on saying “I do.”  You wouldn’t fly a plane without flying lessons,  because you need to learn the skills and safety required for navigating in the air. Similarly, premarital counseling can teach you how to handle turbulance and all the working parts of your relationship. Premarital counseling sessions are about helping couples learn the rules of communication, explore marriage expectations, and discuss strategy plans for the future. Most premarital therapy is used as a preventative tool -- think of it as a way to give your relationship a solid  foundation before walking into the married world.

In addition to getting premarital counseling as a way to build a strong foundation, if you recognize any of the following issues in your relationship, couples counseling is a good idea before tying the knot. 



Start Marriage on the Right Foot


You've said "yes" and you both want to take the best steps to planning your new life together.  Premarital counseling can help build that foundation to building a healthy and long lasting love.  The desire to be successful may be all that you need to know that premarital counseling is right for you.  The more proactive couples are in a relationship, the better the results.  Marriage and Family Therapists specialize in relationships and building a solid connection through communication and creating a secure attachment.


Your Partner Wants Couples Counseling

If your partner suggests counseling, this is a sign that things haven't quite been corrected in the relationship. People don't suggest working with a professional when the relationship has a solid connection. It is very common that one partner cries out for help and the other person completely misses the critical issue until years later once the relationship has become entirely unraveled. Take the suggestion of counseling seriously when your partner brings it up -- it's better to address your issues BEFORE you get married, so don't simply blow off the suggestion of premarital counseling.

The Sex Has Stopped 

One of the signs that a relationship is dwindling is a lack of intimacy in the bedroom. In a secure relationships, both emotional closeness and sexual closeness keep things balanced. Intimacy can go in waves through the years, but if there is an ongoing drought that lasts months or years, this is a sign to seek professional help. If you are planning on waiting for sex until you are married, premarital counseling can be a safe place to talk about your expectations when you do get married and start having sex.

You Feel Relationship Burn Out

Going from completely engaged and seeking closeness to a completely "burnt-out" position is a danger zone. When this happens, you haven't given up on the relationship, yet you are unwilling to expose any vulnerable needs or to rely on your partner.  This is a sign that things have been changing and you could be going down a dangerous road, headed towards complete disconnection.  This is a critical time for couples to seek counseling and get both people to engage in the relationship, especially since you are about to get married!

Someone Cheated

This may be a no brainer for some people, but affairs are signs that premarital counseling is needed. Whether the affair was just revealed, or you are active in the affair, it is critical to understand why this happened in the first place and heal any emotional injuries. Many couples think that they can simply lock up the past, say "I am sorry," and move on. In reality, affairs are very fragile situations where the repair work is critical and must handled in a healing way.  Every second counts when rebuilding trust and regaining the security in a relationship. Moving on doesn't mean shutting the door to pain, but it also doesn't mean you relive the pain over and over. Seeking counseling helps couples handle the fears and emotions that arise in the present and take action to create a long term resolution.

You Seek Outside Comfort

When either you or your partner quickly go to friends or family before turning to the relationship, you should seek counseling. When we no longer turn to one another to resolve issues and instead turn to others for support, a wedge is created in the relationship. Sometimes it becomes easier and easier to turn to others and this can quickly snow ball into a drawn out relationship that dissolves over time. You need to learn to work together so that when you are officially a married couple, you can truly work together as a team instead of starting out on the wrong foot.

You Have Feelings For Someone Else

Thoughts can be thoughts and simply just that. But other times a fantasy leads us to an exciting place where it would be easy to cross the line if the opportunity arises. It is vital to get at the heart of why you get so excited when your co-worker sends you a text, or a friend calls you. If your relationship was solid and secure you wouldn’t consider being with someone else. Something significant is going on, and things are lacking in your current relationship. Start couples counseling to figure out what you aren't getting in the relationship and give your partner an opportunity to get it right with you before it is too late.

Arguments are Heated

When fights continue to go to bad places, either verbally or physically, couples counseling is essential. The more attacks you take at one another, the more you drive each other way and develop a bad habit when it comes to communication. Any time the relationship becomes degrading or hurtful, it is time to seek some expert advice on how to stop the damage and to the relationship.
If you recognize any of these problems in your relationship before you get married, you NEED to get back on track before going through with the wedding. If there are serious cracks in the foundation of your relationship now, they won't get magically fixed by walking down the aisle. Seek out premarital counseling so you can learn better communication and built trust and a secure bond in the relationship now. Think of premarital counseling as an investment in your marriage.

How Counseling Can Save Your Marriage

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When your marriage hits a rough patch, the communication can break down quickly and it might feel like you're hanging on by a thread. If you don't take action, arguments will increase and you can feel more alone than ever. Counseling will help you rewire the way that you communicate in your marriage, and get to the bottom of each person's feelings. The therapist will service as an impartial mediator, pointing out areas where each partner can compromise, and helping you work as a team to rebuild trust and a safe bond. How can counseling save your marriage? Here are the top ways it will help you turn things around.

1. Improved Communication

Counseling will teach you how to talk to your spouse about your feelings in a way that does not come across as attacking. This is essential! If your significant other feels attacked when you approach him, he will become defensive right away and communication breaks down. By figuring out how to approach each other in a way that is not nagging or blaming, you can really start to hear each other and work together. Communication is one of the most important ways to keep your marriage in tact.

2. Creating a Safe Space

You need to feel safe in a marriage. That includes being able to open up, be yourself, and know that your partner will always be there for you. Counseling helps build a secure bond with your partner so that you both feel safe. On top of improving your communication, turning your marriage into a safe space can also eliminate jealousy and improve your trust. In counseling, you can both express what you need to happen for the marriage to feel secure and safe, and your therapist will serve as a guide to the process -- she will make sure both parties are heard.

3. Dealing With Past Hurt

Once you know how to communicate with each other and feel safe, counseling will let you deal with past hurt. Whether its infidelity in your own relationship, or trauma that you experienced outside of the relationship, dealing with past pain will let you heal and move forward in a more healthy way. Letting your partner in on your past hurt and help you move past it will bring you closer, and just might save your marriage.

How to Deal with Difficult Family Members During the Holidays

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The holidays are supposed to be the happiest time of the year, but in fact they can actually be among the most stressful months. Besides tracking down gifts for everyone and spending lots of money, you may have to deal with some less-than-ideal relatives during this time of the year -- sending your blood pressure through the roof. Have a parent or other family member who you know will drive you bonkers this holiday season? Here are some tips for getting through it in one piece.

Mentally Prepare Yourself

Chances are, a difficult relative isn't going to suddenly come out of the woodwork. If Aunt Ida was a challenge last Christmas, you can expect the same this year, and you know exactly they type of behavior she will pull out of her hat. Go into celebrations and family gatherings with a game plan for how you will deflect certain comments or change the subject when a particular comment or bad joke happens. You'll have a much easier time staying calm and getting out of a sticky situation if you have an idea of how you're going to handle it before hand. You can just stick to the plan as opposed to having to think on your feet.

Have a Partner in Crime

If you and your sister both share the same problem with one relative, make a mutual deal where you'll save each other from an uncomfortable conversation with that person. Knowing that someone else at the party has your back can take a lot of stress off of your shoulders. Your sister (or other designated family member) will swoop in to pull you away if they spot you being hounded about being single for the 3rd Christmas in a row, or dealing with yet another offensive joke from your cousin's husband.

Don't Contribute to the Problem

Just because someone in your family insists on being a thorn in your side doesn't mean that you have to retaliate with bad behavior of your own. While you don't need to be a doormat, don't let yourself get riled up and yell at someone -- because then you'll just look like the bad guy who ruined the Christmas party. If a family member tries to pick a fight, let her know flat out that you're not going to argue on the holiday. If someone insists on chiding you about some aspect of your life, just let him know you don't want to talk about that subject and turn the conversation to something else. Repeat yourself if necessary, or leave the room if that is the only way to diffuse a potential argument.

Try to Empathize

If someone is really negative during the holidays, they usually have something bad going on in their life or are generally an insecure or unhappy person. Try to look at your difficult family member through that lens, as difficult as that may be, and remember that they are communicating in the only way they know how given their state. They might actually be trying to connect with you even though it seems they're being critical or harsh.

Take Breaks

Sometimes taking a few minutes alone in a private room, or going for a walk, is all you need to calm down and re-energize. These 10 to 15 minute breaks will give you a reprieve from your troublesome family members and give you a chance to consciously focus on something positive. Use this time to call a friend who is somewhere else and make jokes to get your mind back in a positive space before you return to your family.

The family members in your life might not always be the easiest pill to swallow, but just remember that in a matter of days you will return to your regular life. Try to focus on positive things about your family and turn their flaws into funny quirks in your mind.

San Diego Counseling

I strongly believe that counseling is not one-size-fits-all and needs to be tailored for each of my clients. I want to make sure you get exactly what you’re looking for, so take a look around the website.