How to Pursue Marriage Counseling Online

The worldwide COVID 19 pandemic has affected nearly every single aspect of modern life, causing a tremendous amount of problems. One of the consequences of the virus has been the rise in marital problems. A combination of stress, being quarantined, and having little social outlets has resulted in a large increase in divorce worldwide. 

In fact, a recent 2020 study showed that 34% of individuals in relationships reported at least some degree of conflict with their partner due to COVID-19 quarantine and restrictions. As if that weren’t bad enough, the couples that are seeking to prevent a divorce with counseling are having a harder time seeing a therapist as a result of the lockdowns and COVID-19 protocols. This is where the option of online marriage counseling has come to the rescue and helped to save relationships. 

How Does Online Marriage Counseling Work? 

The first step to online marriage counseling is to find a licensed and qualified therapist that offers online therapy sessions. The industry is growing, and there is no shortage of options, especially online. As for the specifics of how online marriage counseling works — it’s pretty simple! 

An internet connection, decent lighting, and space to see your faces are all that’s needed for effective therapy sessions. The married couple will set up a time to meet with the therapist online and together will have their sessions from the comfort of their own home. Sometimes there may be a need for the therapist to talk individually with one member of the relationship, which may result in other forms of communication such as messaging apps, but for the most part, it will be shared video platforming. 

The Pros and Cons of Online Marriage Counseling 

As with just about everything in life, there are pros and cons to online marriage counseling. While marriage counseling itself is a wonderful idea to help couples learn and understand each other, participating online instead of in-person may have some drawbacks. 

Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of online marriage counseling to help you decide if it’s right for you: 

The Pros

  • Convenience: Most therapists have office hours during the workweek (Monday through Friday) with standard work hours of 9 am to 5 pm. Scheduling a visit during these times can be hard for anyone with a job or school, and finding free time for both parties can be challenging.
    Online therapy eliminates this issue as therapists are usually more flexible with their availability. This makes scheduling your appointment much easier. Instead of finding a way to make a daytime appointment during a workday, you can book an evening session that better fits your work schedule with online counseling.
  • Comfort: Usually, anytime someone enters a foreign space, their anxiety and tension will naturally rise. It’s why many people don’t get sleeping in a hotel can be as rewarding as sleeping at home. This is the same with a therapist’s office. The environment can be quite intimidating and may cause people to clam up emotionally. With online therapy, the sessions will be held from the safety and comfort of your home. Therefore, you may feel much more relaxed.
  • Safety: Since the COVID 19 pandemic hit the world in 2020, the way that society and humans have functioned has been changed drastically and possibly forever. Although online therapy was a growing trend pre-COVID, these days, it can be the only option available depending on where you may live. Going out and visiting a therapist’s office in person can come with COVID-related risks but staying in for online counseling can eliminate all those concerns.
  • Location: Having to commute to a therapist’s office, especially when considering work schedules and children, can be quite a hassle. Depending on the therapist’s office’s location and distance, the travel time may end up being longer than the actual session. In some rural areas, there may be very limited — or even zero — options available nearby, making any kind of therapy impossible. Online therapy has no such problem. Anyone with an internet connection is within range for therapy. 
  • Choice: Instead of choosing from a list of nearby therapists, online therapy gives you the option to choose from thousands of therapists located all around the world. Having to settle for whatever is close should not be an option for anything in the modern world and especially not for something as important as marriage counseling. 
  • Affordability: A therapist with a traditional office will have a lot of extra expenses to cover. The rent space alone for a quality office in a good area downtown can be astronomically high. By the time the utilities, furniture, and staff are added in, the cost of sessions will have to be quite high in order to just pay the bills. Online therapy eliminates all of these problems, and the savings are passed on to the clients making online therapy considerably cheaper as a result.   
  • Stigma: Unfortunately, seeing a therapist still carries around a stigma in today’s society. Although perceptions are changing on the subject, there are plenty of people who don’t want others to know they are in therapy. Online sessions completely remove that risk since they are conducted in the privacy of one’s home. 
  • Long Distance: For a married couple currently in a long-distance relationship, online counseling may be the only realistic way to get therapy. All three parties will have a much easier time meeting online than flying around the country or world in order to meet in person.

The Cons

  • Interruptions May Occur: Internet connectivity issues will almost certainly happen at one point or another, which can disrupt a session. Also, children, pets, or unexpected visitors could cause issues during a session and throw off the momentum of the conversation.
  • Body Language: One of the more subtle ways that therapists can assess their clients is through reading their body language. These subtle cues can give them a lot of insight into the inner workings of their clients. Online therapy will make it much harder for the therapist to read these cues and could be missed. 
  • Less Intimate: Communicating through a screen may remove some of the intimacy of a session and make the therapy feel less personal. A face-to-face conversation is still being had, but not being in person may make it harder for an individual to open up and be vulnerable.
  • Harder To Control: If a session starts getting heated, it could become harder for the therapist to keep control. After all, the married couple will be in a room together, and the therapist will be on a screen. This could impact the positivity of a session, especially for more volatile couples.
  • Insurance Issues: Although insurance companies have started offering more programs to help their customers pay for therapy, they still lack online options. Depending on the insurance coverage, they may not cover it at all.

How Much Does Online Marriage Counseling Cost? 

Just like the case in traditional therapy, online therapy can fluctuate a lot! Factors such as subscription plans, how frequently you meet with the therapist, and their own qualifications can greatly influence prices. It’s hard to say exactly what the costs will be or how much insurance will cover, but session prices can range from $40 and $295, on average. The more expensive sessions generally come with more options such as live chat, messaging, and online classes. 

How to Get the Most Out of Online Marriage Counseling

Anyone undertaking marital counseling has already completed the first two steps toward repairing a marriage — admitting there is a problem and seeking help! Here are a few tips to really get the most out of your sessions to increase the effectiveness of the counseling.

  1. Use one screen. It may be easier and more convenient for each person to use their own technological device to join in, but using one screen together can be more beneficial. Having eye contact and physical touch with your partner can benefit the effectiveness of the session.
  2. Privacy. It’s important to remember there will be extremely personal details that will come up during the session, so make sure you have some privacy. Having a separate place for the sessions can go a long way toward helping you relax and open up emotionally.
  3. Remove Distractions. While one of the most significant benefits of online therapy sessions is the convenience of being in your own home, it can also be one of the worst detriments. The therapy sessions should be strictly about the marriage and nothing else. Having pets or children interrupt,  attempting to handle chores, or watching television during your session will all negatively affect the therapy.

The Takeaway

There are quite a few pros when it comes to online marriage counseling! The good news is, if you’re seeking therapy, you are taking a big step in the right direction to a happy and healthy relationship. Although there are a few potential drawbacks to online marriage counseling, it is overwhelmingly the best option for today’s society in terms of convenience and safety.

Marriage counseling requires a lot of work and a strong desire to identify and repair issues. It can take a while for these issues to appear and even longer to fix. Having the ability to attend therapy sessions from home can make these sessions much easier to continue and even save some money. Having the ability to contact and speak directly to a qualified and licensed therapist has never been easier with online therapy!

Sources

  1. Pros and Cons of Online Couples’ Therapy (verywellmind.com)
  2. Does Online Marriage Counseling Work? (aarp.org)
  3. (PDF) Romantic Relationship Conflict Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and Changes in Intimate and Sexual Behaviors in a Nationally Representative Sample of American Adults (researchgate.net)
author avatar
Angel Rivera
I am a Bilingual (Spanish) Psychiatrist with a mixture of strong clinical skills including Emergency Psychiatry, Consultation Liaison, Forensic Psychiatry, Telepsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry training in treatment of the elderly. I have training in EMR records thus very comfortable in working with computers. I served the difficult to treat patients in challenging environments in outpatient and inpatient settings

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