7 Benefits of Online Marriage Counseling
Online marriage counseling refers to couples therapy that is conducted over the internet. It helps married and unmarried couples to understand presenting issues, resolve conflicts, and strengthen their relationship.
What is Online Marriage Counseling?
Online marriage counseling, also known as online couples therapy, is a type of psychotherapy that offers a digital alternative to conventional, face-to-face marriage counseling. Online couples therapy helps couples to gain insight into their relationship and make sound decisions on their future. Partners may learn skills to improve their communication and enhance their relationship. In some cases, couples use online marriage counseling to find out how to end their relationship in an amicable manner.
There are many different types of online marriage counseling. Sessions generally take place in the clients’ home and may be conducted via video conferencing, instant messaging, or email paired with telephone conversations. Online marriage counseling is usually a short-term treatment. While both partners are typically involved, one partner may decide to seek counseling alone.
Online marriage counseling is provided by licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs). Many LMFTs in the United States are credentialed by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).
Why Online Marriage Counseling?
Couples must nurture, defend, and strengthen their emotional bonds if they want their relationship to last. If a couple is unable to resolve their marital issues on their own, they may seek assistance from a licensed marriage and family therapist. Some partners may go to counseling sessions even if their relationship is in good health. Marriage mates who make use of counseling services before they notice signs of trouble report improved marital functioning, lower rates of separation, and a better sex life.
There are a variety of reasons couples may seek online marriage counseling rather than traditional marriage counseling sessions. Seven key benefits are listed below.
Online marriage counseling is very accessible. Couples may receive relationship assistance on the internet 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. There are several established companies that provide online relationship therapy services. In most cases, partners only need to register an account to use the services offered.
Couples who take advantage of online marriage counseling are able to set regular appointments with a licensed marriage counselor, receive relationship tips, join group therapy sessions, and access many other features. These features are usually available at the click of a button.
Some couples may forego traditional marriage counseling—even if they know they need it—because they are unable to afford the service. Although the cost of online marriage counseling may vary, it is typically less expensive than in-person marriage counseling. Some companies provide online relationship therapy services for free, while others offer the option of a monthly subscription. Subscription fees typically start at $18 per month
In addition to paying less for services, online marriage counseling helps couples to save money in other ways. For example, couples do not have to travel to a counselor’s office, buy food on the go, or take time off from work to meet an appointment. Many online marriage counselors offer free initial appointments. As there is a reduced need for office space, furnishings, and appointment setters, online marriage counseling generally has lower overhead costs than conventional marriage therapy.
Many people feel anxious when visiting a therapist’s office. However, online marriage counseling allows couples to get the help they need from the comfort of their own home. Being in familiar surroundings helps many partners to drop their defenses, open up, and share their concerns. Partners may also feel less intimidated when speaking to a marriage counselor online than face-to-face.
Online marriage counseling also eliminates the hassle of traveling to an appointment. Factors such as heavy traffic, road rage, and unpleasant weather are completely avoided. Even couples with busy schedules may benefit from online marriage counseling. As the approach is highly flexible, an appointment may fit comfortably into a couple’s regular routine.
Privacy is a major issue when seeking marriage counseling or other forms of professional care. Many intimate partners feel uncomfortable when other people are aware they are experiencing challenges in their relationship. A lack of privacy may also affect other aspects of a couple’s day-to-day life. For example, some marriage mates may lose sponsorships, endorsements, or certain job opportunities if their marital challenges become public knowledge.
Online marriage counseling offers extremely high levels of privacy. All counseling records and sessions are kept confidential and secure. As sessions are typically conducted in the homes of clients, there is no risk of accidentally meeting friends, acquaintances, workmates, or other family members at a marriage counselor’s office.
Documentation is Accessible
Proper documentation is available for online marriage counseling. Clear and up-to-date records help couples to see the overall progress they are making and keep track of specific changes in their relationship. They may also review recommendations and tips provided by their marriage counselor. Couples may access, open, and review their documentation anytime they want.
Can Help Long Distance Couples
Online marriage counseling is an excellent option for intimate partners who are separated by long distances. This physical separation may be due to work-related travel, a recent conflict in the relationship, or other reasons. Counselors may arrange video conference calls where partners can speak to each other and receive professional guidance on the best way to address their concerns.
Intimate partners who use online marriage counseling services have a range of options available to them. Although professional counselors receive similar training, there are important factors that may influence couples to choose one counselor over another. Some of these factors include:
- Personality – some couples may respond better to a therapist who is naturally lively, animated, or bubbly. Other couples may prefer a therapist who is calm, measured, and always in control.
- Counseling style or therapeutic approach – depending on the needs of the couple, marriage counselors may use techniques from a variety of therapeutic modalities. Popular evidence-based modalities such as imago relationship therapy, narrative therapy, the Gottman method, positive psychology, emotionally focused couples therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy may be used in counseling sessions. Couples may seek assistance from a specific counselor if he or she uses a counseling style that is comfortable and effective.
- Professional experience – some partners may prefer working with a counselor who has helped many couples over the course of many years. Other couples who have not benefited from traditional marriage counseling techniques in the past may prefer working with a counselor who brings a novel approach to online couples therapy.
- Personal relationship experience – married couples may feel more comfortable getting advice from a therapist who has been happily married for many years. Some married couples may be concerned that a counselor who has never been married is unable to understand and relate to their issues.
- Expertise – many marriage counselors specialize in addressing a particular marital or relationship issue. Common marital concerns include intimacy, financial challenges, fertility issues, adoption, dealing with in-laws, chronic health issues, child-rearing, and lack of communication. Couples that are experiencing difficulty in a particular area may prefer to speak to a marriage therapist who specializes in treating their specific concern.
- Availability – online marriage counseling is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. However, individual marriage counselors may have specific times when they provide counseling over the internet. If couples require late night or early morning sessions they may have to search online for a marriage counselor who provides services at those times.
- Type of platform used – some couples are not as tech-savvy as others. Partners who are comfortable using one type of platform (such as instant messaging) may be unable or unwilling to try others (such as video conferencing). These couples will likely prioritize working with a counselor who uses technology they are familiar with.
There is no standardized approach to online marriage counseling. Relationship issues may vary from couple to couple. Even couples with similar issues may have different experiences. However, the variety of options available means partners are able to access customized care that fits their specific needs and circumstances.
Challenges of Online Marriage Counseling
There are a number of challenges associated with online marriage counseling. Chief among them is the fact that services may be offered by individuals who are untrained or unqualified to provide professional assistance. Some online counselors believe they are exempt from the regulations of conservative professional organizations and choose not to earn licensure. Couples are encouraged to check the credentials of their online marriage counselor before they decide to work with him or her.
Location is another concern for some couples who are interested in online marriage counseling. Many marriage counselors are licensed to provide counseling services in specific states. These restrictions may apply even for services that are offered online. This means a marriage counselor who is licensed to practice in one state may be unable to offer online counseling to marriage mates who live in another state.
While there are many benefits of online marriage counseling, this form of talk therapy is not ideal for everyone. Some couples may be affected by serious mental or emotional issues that cannot be adequately addressed online. For example, partners who are experiencing schizophrenia, dementia, suicidal ideation, severe substance addiction, or other chronic concerns may require medication or intensive forms of treatment in residential or inpatient settings.
Online marriage counseling is not recommended for couples with a history of abuse. An abusive partner is unlikely to participate in therapy and may react violently if he or she discovers his or her partner is speaking to a marriage counselor. Even if the abusive partner consents to counseling, online sessions may not be effective. This is because the abused partner may be afraid to speak openly and honestly about what has taken place in the relationship.
Other challenges to online marriage counseling include:
- Cheaper Chat Options Can Feel Less Personal
Some critics of online marriage counseling believe online marriage counseling is less personal and less effective than traditional couples therapy. They contend that it may be difficult for partners to make eye contact and converse with each other while having to pay attention to a computer screen. Other issues include impaired communication during sessions. For example, a marriage counselor is less likely to notice hand gestures, nervous mannerisms, or other forms of nonverbal communication during the counseling session if it takes place online.
- Fear of Failure
Despite the fact that online marriage counseling is available for healthy couples, most people seek professional guidance only after they have already given up on their relationship. Rather than a source of constant emotional support and advice, counseling is often viewed as a last resort. Some married couples view online marriage counseling merely as a convenient way to get divorced on friendly terms. Due to the stigma associated with couples therapy, premarital couples and newlyweds may avoid online marriage counseling even though it may help them form stronger emotional bonds in the future.
If couples are experiencing relationship issues they can speak to a licensed marriage and family therapist at Thrive Talk. Thrive Talk offers online access to a dedicated and compassionate team of skilled marriage counselors. Couples may begin their first session in just three easy steps. With Thrive Talk, they can start building the intimate, supportive relationship they truly want, today.
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