Online couples’ counseling provides a popular alternative to the traditional model of seeing a therapist in their office. After all, these days we do everything with an app, so it’s natural to choose app-based therapy as well. It offers location-independent convenience. It may also be more cost-effective. However, online couples therapy is not necessarily the right choice for everyone. The more you know about the pros and cons, the easier it will be to decide if it is the right choice for your relationship.
How Does Online Couples’ Counseling Work?
Online couples’ counseling works much the same way as traditional in-office therapy. You and your partner will join the therapist together online to work through a variety of relationship issues. You’ll discuss challenges and improve communication. Moreover, you’ll still work with a licensed, qualified therapist. However, you aren’t limited to the therapists in your own local area. Therefore, you actually get more choice, allowing you to find the therapist who works best for you.
Online couples’ counseling typically takes place over a secure app or browser-based tool. You may access it on your phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop. Most therapy sessions take place as video calls. However, your therapist might also accept and respond to text messages, voice messages, and video messages. In other words, although most online couples’ therapy takes place in real time, it’s also possible to access message-based therapy.
What Are the Benefits of Online Couples’ Counseling?
One of the biggest benefits of online couples’ counseling is that it offers convenience. Many couples find it challenging to fit therapy into their busy schedules. Couples’ counseling sessions often last longer than the traditional 50-minute session. If you and your partner both have to commute to the therapist’s office, then that can mean three hours or so out of your day for therapy.
In contrast, with online therapy, you don’t have to take as much time out of your day. Therefore, it’s easier to commit to it. Also, in many cases, you can schedule online therapy appointments for weekends or after hours. the convenience makes keeping those appointments a lot easier.
Online Couples’ Counseling is Location-Independent
The fact that the counseling sessions take place over the computer isn’t just convenient. Sometimes it’s the only way that things can be done. For example, location-independent counseling is helpful for long-distance relationships. Imagine that you’re considering moving to live with your partner. However, you have some concerns. Rather than making the leap and seeing what happens, you can participate in online therapy together to work through those issues before deciding on relocation.
Location-independent counseling is also helpful for couples who:
- Travel frequently
- Can not travel to an office due to one or both partners’ physical or mental health
- Live in remote areas where acccess to a skilled couples’ therapist is limited
- Want to stay connected to an in-person therapist after a move
- Are interested in trying a new approach to couples’ therapy
Cost Benefits of Online Couples’ Counseling
Couples’ counseling is pricey. Online couples’ counseling is more affordable. Of course, the cost for therapy sessions varies widely. If you are seeing a traditional couples’ therapist then transition to online counseling with that same person, the cost might not be as low as you’d like. However, you can select an online-only therapist who offers affordable rates.
Those tools geared specifically to offer online therapy often have very affordable rates.
For example, the popular online therapy tool Talkspace has three different plans ranging from $49 – $79 per week. That is significantly cheaper than most in-person sessions, which don’t generally come with unlimited text and message communication. You pay less and get more for your money. That said, not every online therapist accepts health insurance, so review that before committing.
More Frequent Contact with Your Therapist
When you use a service such as Talkspace, you actually get to communicate with your therapist via message as soon as issues come up. Oftentimes, during a therapy session, you feel like you’re “getting it” only to realize later that you have questions. With online therapy, you can ask those questions as they arise. Furthermore, as issues come up in the relationship, you can deal with them immediately through those messages. You don’t have to wait 1-2 weeks until your next session while issues continue to brew in your household.
Are There Any Disadvantages to Online Counseling?
So far, online couples’ counseling sounds great, right? It is. However, it’s not for everyone. If you’re trying to decide whether or not it’s right for you, then it’s important to be aware of the potential disadvantages. The biggest of these is that you lack the personal touch of in-person communication. Therapists often get a lot of information from your body language and other nonverbal cues.
This is particularly important in couples’ counseling where one person may do a lot more of the talking than the other. Luckily, online video technology is pretty good these days, so these limitations aren’t as restricting as they once where. Nevertheless, there’s a quality to being in the same quiet room with your therapist that can feel lacking in the online version of therapy.
Furthermore, it’s really easy to get distracted in an online counseling session. Hopefully you’re focused on the conversation, but let’s face it, we’re always tempted to multi-task when communicating online. If you can’t focus and remain fully present then online counseling might not be a good fit.
Can Online Counseling Be Combined with Offline Therapy?
If you like the idea of online couples’ counseling but aren’t sure whether or not it’s right for you then you might like a blended approach. For example, you might see your couples’ therapist in the office once per month but have weekly online sessions between those in-person sessions. This gives you the flexibility, convenience, and affordability of online sessions while offering the human in-person touch of offline therapy.