Why Consider Online Marriage Counseling?
Despite so many modern-day conveniences brought to us by technological advances, fast-paced lifestyles place a high demand on our time. Between juggling a career, family obligations, errands, our health, and social life, it’s rare to find time to focus on the less tangible aspects of our lives. Our mental well-being, stress levels, and certainly our marriages don’t receive nearly as much attention as they deserve.
While we can all benefit from better prioritizing those areas of our lives that are most important, there’s only so much “fat” you can cut before you get to the “meat.” We lead busy lives and that’s not going to change. What can change, however, is how we leverage our technological advances to save us time and provide us with access to things that maybe have previously been out of reach. That’s where online marriage counseling comes in.
Coordinating weekly sessions with your spouse or partner in a therapist’s office can be a major inconvenience, not to mention a significant expense. But new platforms now exist that allow you to attend sessions with professional, licensed therapists online or via mobile app. Not only is this solution more convenient than in-person couples counseling, but it’s also more affordable. One session with a marriage counselor can cost as much as a monthly subscription for unlimited online counseling. Another often overlooked benefit is that whereas your communication with in-person marriage therapists in between sessions is normally nonexistent, with some of the providers listed above you and your spouse can engage in an ongoing dialogue with your therapist via chat, and discuss issues as they come up. This allows couples to deal with quarrels in real-time rather than having to take notes on them, and then discuss them days later with their therapists after they’ve potentially snowballed into larger fights.
The technology behind online counseling platforms is straight forward. Chat sessions are conducted in a personalized chat room that resembles your SMS function on your phone. If you’d like to speak with your counselor over the phone, you simply pick a date and time from the calendar in your designated chat room, which the therapist then confirms. Video chat scheduling works the same way as to how you’d set up a phone call (simply choose a date and time that’s convenient for you from the calendar).
This level of flexibility with your therapist can open up a world of options previously unavailable to those engaging in marriage counseling. Want to talk alone, without your partner? No problem. Want to schedule an emergency dual session? No problem.
Although convenience and cost are important, the most important aspect of therapy is effectiveness. Since it’s a fairly new industry, there are no long-term studies on its efficacy. However, one recent study did report a 90% satisfaction rate for counseling online. The study, which was conducted by the Zurich University, touched on some fairly common-sense reasons as to why there was such a high satisfactory rate. Respondents noted the ability to ‘go over’ the lessons they learned within their chat room instead of relying on their memory. Furthermore, patients felt more intimacy within the online counseling sessions. They also reported that sessions with in-office therapists felt rushed compare with their online counterparts. Additionally, seeing an online counselor gave them a feeling of more individual attention.
What is Online Marriage Counseling?
Online marital counseling is exactly what its name suggests. It’s the modern-age version of marriage counseling, enabling two people in a relationship to seek professional therapy services online, via live chat, video conferencing, phone call or messaging. Aside from being less expensive than in-person marriage counseling, it comes with additional benefits that are unique to digital services. First, sessions can be conducted from anywhere, rather than forcing the couple to coordinate their busy schedules and meet at a specific location that suits them both. Next, if the couple finds that their counselor is not a good fit, they can request a new therapist with the click of a button. Compared with the logistical headache of switching an in-person therapist, this feature is a major benefit. Lastly, it allows the couple to engage in an ongoing dialogue with their therapist throughout the day in real-time. If you are looking to save your marriage, rekindle your love, or just work out some relationship issues, online marriage counseling may be an effective solution.
So…Why Hasn’t Online Marriage Counseling Taken Off?
It’s true, online therapy for individuals has seen explosive growth, with some providers becoming household brands. If online marriage counseling is virtually the same thing, why haven’t couples flocked to this more affordable and convenient option?
Unfortunately, there are several reasons for this, many of which overlap with the myths and stigmas around counseling for individuals. However, progress is being made on this front as we, as a society, increasingly come to understand the value of professional therapy and mental health as a whole. .
Online Couples Counseling Myths
“Couples counseling will take years.”
False. Most couples going through online marriage counseling attend for only a short period of time, typically just 8-12 weeks. After all, time is of the essence and you want to get somewhere, without letting problems drag on. In fact, many of the therapists use new techniques to create a more efficient therapy session. This means getting to the bottom of the issues quicker, so you can start enjoying and creating a healthier and exciting relationship.
“My partner won’t show up so therapy won’t work.”
Mostly false. For starters, there is a common misconception that it takes two people in the marriage to show up to the counseling session. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, most online marriage counseling sessions start with only one partner involved. And, in many ways, this is more beneficial than starting out with both people in the relationship. For example, imagine you have decided to sign up without your partner. After a few weeks, you personally notice a change in your attitude. This change will also be noticeable to your partner which can be an advantage in getting your partner to open up in a therapy session as well.
“Marriage counseling simply won’t work.”
False. There is no one-size-fits-all guide to it, but the reality is there could be. Online marital counseling comes with many misconceptions, but the most dominant one isn’t a problem with the service, but rather the individual (or couple). Try hard not to come into it with the mindset that it won’t work. Remember, this has worked for tens of thousands of couples; there’s no reason why you cannot benefit from it either. It can work, you just need to give it a chance.
“The therapist instinctively and subconsciously takes sides.”
Emphatically false. The counselor is here to help your relationship, and only that. There is no judgment. No blaming. No lecturing. You will experience none of this from the therapist. In the exercises, your therapist will work with you and/or your partner on bettering issues like communication, consideration and thoughtfulness, compassion, connection, etc. All of this helps to drastically improve your marriage or relationship, and does not benefit one partner over the other.
“It’s way too inconvenient.”
False. All you need is a computer or mobile device with an internet connection and you’re good to go. By allowing users to attend sessions online and communicate with their therapists via chat, these platforms make therapy more convenient than ever. Counseling can take place at any time, from any place.
“I can’t afford therapy.”
Mostly false. Traditional in-office therapy sessions range anywhere from $150 to $400, per session. Even with co-pay, it’s not a service that’s attainable to the masses. With online marriage counseling, it’s a completely different story. You can find services that charge as little as $65 per week for live sessions and unlimited counseling. This has made the cost of therapy within reach for numerous couples.
The above-debunked myths are unfortunately what many couples tend to focus on, instead of looking towards the positives of online marriage counseling, and there are many. So let’s take a more detailed look at some of these.
Benefits of Online Couples Counseling
Coordinating a session time with two partners and a therapist can be difficult for most busy people, often resulting in lateness, cancellation, and postponement. The ability to meet from anywhere, at any time makes it much simpler to find a time that works for everyone.
A More Relaxed Environment
For some, the cold, sterile feel of a therapist’s office makes it difficult to open up about the most sensitive topics in their lives. Online therapy however, allows them to attend sessions from spaces where they feel more at ease to open up, which can be far more effective.
When it comes to counseling, consistency is key and that’s exactly what you get with online counseling services. When for some reason, a couple is unable to attend a therapy session with an in-person counselor, they often cannot make-up the session due to scheduling conflicts. With online therapy, there’s much more flexibility to re-schedule since there’s no need to find a babysitter, leave work early or commute to the therapist’s office. Sessions can take place during your lunch break at work, from your home late at night or pretty much anytime throughout the day that you and your therapist can find a window of time to speak.
The ability to engage in an ongoing conversation with the therapist via the private message board allows the couple to have “vent” sessions in real time as issues come up, and receive feedback and guidance from the therapist before the next live session.
While you won’t know if online counseling is right for you and your partner until you try it, there’s a lot that can be learned from hearing feedback from other people. Our editor reviews detail what you can expect from using each therapy provider. In addition, our user reviews can provide added insight into what people liked and disliked about the various services so that you can make a more informed decision.