Unlike what we’ll often see in TV and movies, a healthy relationship doesn’t just happen. It results from ongoing work, learning to communicate, practicing patience, and increasing your empathy for one another. A solid relationship is a tricky balancing act.
Both partners need to be supportive of the other and able to provide emotional support and love. At the same time, you can’t forget who you are as an individual. You still need to find the time to dream, hope, and pursue your own passions. You want to bring your best self to your partner to enable their best.
Maintaining this balance is a struggle for all couples at one point or another. Life pops up and interrupts our best-laid plans. A stressful job, a sudden illness, or even having children can disrupt your happy routines.
While these struggles are expected in a long-term relationship, it still requires proactive action to ensure minor issues don’t snowball into large ones. If you see cracks beginning to appear, online couples therapy or marriage intensives are a fantastic way for you and your partner to get back on track.
And even if you’re not experiencing issues, it’s much easier to lay solid foundations before major problems surface in the relationship.
Is Online Couples Therapy Different From Traditional Therapy?
In many ways, online couples counseling is the same as traditional therapy. At the core, you’re meeting regularly as a couple to talk with a trained professional. They’ll help you identify and work through any issues you’re having. The results are also similar, with many couples reporting the same benefits as visiting in person.
Some of the Benefits of Online Couples Therapy
Of course, there are some differences compared to meeting in person. The fact that it takes place remotely alters the dynamics of a session in some subtle ways. For some, this actually provides some advantages over a traditional therapy session.
Many couples overlook the commute time. If your therapist is on the other side of town or in an area with bad traffic, that can turn an hour session into three. Sure, in the beginning, everyone’s focused on getting to counseling. But over time, these difficulties can make it easier for a couple to find an excuse not to attend couples counseling. At the end of the day, you want therapy to alleviate stresses and pressures, not add more to your plate.
Many are apprehensive about couples counseling or therapy in general. It requires an opening up and vulnerability that is unfamiliar to most. Online couples counseling can represent a more accessible, less intimidating way to access therapy for those struggling with doubts or fears. The online sessions provide a bit of distance and you can also choose to hold the sessions in your home or where you feel comfortable.
Is Online Couples Therapy Always A Good Option?
As a general rule with counseling, nothing is ever “better” or “worse” – only more suited to the individual situation.
That said, there are a few times when we wouldn’t recommend online counseling. The most important example is when domestic violence is involved.
With online couples counseling, it’s easier to hide signs of abuse. Without this information, the therapist’s genuine desire to help the pair could be detrimental to the victim in the long term.
When domestic violence is involved, the relationship is seriously imbalanced. This unequal contribution to the relationship’s issues means that having both individuals present in the sessions cannot work. An abuser should not be placed on equal footing.
If you are experiencing violence in your relationship, please contact law enforcement or a licensed counselor for help without your partner present.
Other Reasons Online Couples Counseling Might Not Be Right
One of the most common reasons online counseling might not be suitable for you is unreliable technology. Say you live in an area where you experience regular outages, or spotty wi-fi. If you experience constant interruptions during your sessions, this will break the natural flow, making it harder to be present.
Another reason you might want to seek in person therapy is if one or both of you require a neutral setting, removed from the stresses of your living situation. Maybe you’re in the middle of a stressful remodel, have small children with no one to supervise them or do not have a private, quiet space available. Then traveling to the therapist’s office is a good idea.
What You Can Expect From Online Therapy Sessions
Since the idea of online couples counseling is new for many, it’s only natural to wonder what will take place. While no two counselors are the same, there is a general framework of what you can expect.
The first few sessions usually involve identifying goals, sharing your relationship history, and building trust between everyone involved. These initial sessions will serve to ease you in gently, and you will not be pushed too far out of your comfort zone.
After developing a sense of trust, your counselor will help identify issues and give you techniques to overcome them. A session might end with a suggestion on a technique to try during the coming week, with the results discussed in later sessions.
Change isn’t always a comfortable process. So, at times, you and your partner may be pushed and challenged. That said, a professional counselor will be attuned to your needs and understand when to push and when to provide support and encouragement to maximize your couples therapy sessions.
But don’t worry. It’s not all pushing you outside your comfort zone and asking you to face past failures. You might be surprised to learn that many find couples therapy a safe, happy time they look forward to during their week. Many sessions will be spent remembering why you fell in love in the first place and reminding you of all the good you have in the relationship.
Finding the Right Counselor for You and Your Partner
Counseling is highly personal, so it’s essential to find a professional therapist that you and your partner feel comfortable working with. Finding the right counselor can make or break the therapy before you start.
I encourage you to trust your instinct in your search. An easy way to check in it to ask yourself, “do I feel comfortable with this person?”
Questions to Ask a Potential Counselor
Think about your needs and situation when considering what questions to ask a potential counselor. Remember, this is a relationship that could last months or even years.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started thinking about what questions to ask your online therapist in your initial call.
- What’s your approach to therapy?
- Do you have goals in mind before beginning, or do we develop them in the sessions?
- Is there any way to tell if the sessions are working and how long does it take to see progress?
- Will we be given any “homework” outside of the counseling session?
- How do you ensure privacy in our online therapy sessions?
It’s worth noting that there’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer from the counselor. After all, different professionals have different approaches. Their answers simply allow you to see if their approach to counseling clicks with you or not.
If you’re happy with the above questions, then you should move on to asking about prices, insurance options, and other logistical issues.
Would You or Your Partner Benefit From Online Counseling?
Most relationships will benefit from couples therapy, whether in person or online. Great relationships don’t just happen. They need to be nurtured and strengthened through intentional work.
Life can turn even the most dedicated couples away from each other at times, and it’s OK to admit that you need outside assistance to help get you back on track. Couples counseling doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a couple. If anything, it means you have a stronger commitment to one another and the humility to know you need help to reach deeper levels in your relationship.
If you think traditional or online couples therapy might benefit your relationship, please feel free to reach out to me to schedule a call. I am always on hand to talk through your specific situation and find the best solution for you and your other half.