Marriage problems do not go away just because we are dealing with the coronavirus. If anything, some relationships may deteriorate due to routine disruption and increased time together. Currently, many therapists are not offering in-person counseling, so online marriage therapy is a viable alternative to address your problems. Here is what you can expect from online marriage counseling.
What Happens in Online Marriage Counseling?
Virtual marriage counseling will vary according to the platform and provider you use. Particular therapists may have definitive views on how they want to conduct sessions. In all cases, however, both members of the couple will first need to fill out background information and decide what issues they want to address in counseling.
Alone or Together?
Even though this is couples counseling, you may be able choose whether you want to begin marriage counseling alone or with your partner. Some people prefer to talk to a therapist individually before they bring in their partner. However, individual therapy is not the focus of marriage counseling and you should be prepared for sessions to involve you and your partner.
Similarly, you need to set some mutually agreed upon ground rules about online therapist communication. For example, is one of you able to text the therapist without the other or should all communication be done as a couple?
Be Prepared to Work
Marriage requires work and so does marital therapy. People tend to get the most out of therapy when they think about their issues between sessions. Even with more frequent communication with your therapist, thanks to online therapy, you should expect to do “homework” and activities offline to improve your marriage.
What are the Advantages of Virtual Marriage Therapy?
The biggest advantages of online marriage counseling are convenience and flexibility. Online counseling gives you the flexibility to do therapy from wherever you feel most comfortable at a time that works best for all involved. For example, you can leave a message for your therapist when convenient for you and have them reply whenever they are available.
Types of Communication
You also have the flexibility of what type of communication you wish to use. Online platforms use different forms of communication. For example, Regain, a popular relationship therapy platform, offers e-mail, live chat, live video, and phone contact as options for communicating with your therapist. This can be particularly convenient when you want to consult with your therapist but don’t have time for a full video or chat exchange.
Online therapy is usually cheaper than in-person couples therapy. When you see a therapist in-person the base price will likely be more expensive, and they frequently charge more for couples than individuals. Most online platforms have a standard price for services and do not charge extra for including your partner in sessions.
Are There Disadvantages to Online Marriage Counseling?
Depending on your preferences, you may not see any disadvantage to online counseling. While almost all of the research on the effectiveness of marriage counseling has been done on face-to-face therapy, there is no reason to believe that virtual counseling is less productive, especially if you are utilizing live video sessions.
Certain people, however, may feel that technology takes away from the experience. Older people, for example, who did not grow up with the Internet may not feel comfortable using texting and chatting features to convey sensitive information. Further, no technology is perfect and there is always the concern that it might not work or your information may be vulnerable to hackers.
Choosing a Therapist
With some platforms, such as Regain, matching to a therapist is automated. While that does remove some guesswork on your part, many people like to have the ability to talk with a therapist before making their choice. Talkspace, maybe the most popular online counseling service, offers a choice based upon your needs.
Loss of Information
A vast amount of information is conveyed through body language and tone of voice. Non-video communication does not allow for that exchange of data. As a result, it may be difficult for your therapist to accurately assess your problems without live video. You also may face some interruptions, which takes away from the productiveness of a session.
The Value of Virtual Marriage Counseling
The emergence of COVID-19 has shown us the potential of online marriage therapy. Like all new ventures, it has its pros and cons. It may not be everyone’s preference, but it has proven to be an effective resource for receiving marital help.