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In the past virtual therapy (online therapy or phone therapy) wasn’t widely practiced, but that changed in the last decade. Now, with the corona virus at work, the need for virtual therapy has greatly increased. So, therapists and clients turned to those unconventional types of therapy.

Marriage counseling and couples therapy is also on the rise, as a large percentage of couples are looking for ways to improve their relationships. Again, COVID-19 changed the way we go about our everyday life, so, online therapy came to the rescue, with all of its glory and imperfections.

In this blog post we’ll dive into the topic of online relationship counseling, what it means and what it offers. Furthermore, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of this type of therapeutic work, and in the end, I hope that some of the questions you have, will be answered.

What is Online Relationship Counseling?

The only thing that distinguishes online therapy from the conventional face-to-face therapy is the medium used for communication – the internet that is. The flow of work, the tempo, the objectives and all else technical, stays the same. But the fact that you are not in the same room with your therapist makes a difference. For some couples, it comes as a bonus, for others – it’s a downside. But nonetheless, it’s the best we can do if we want to flourish in the time of a global pandemic.

For a relationship therapist the line of work seems plain and simple:

  • The first step is to get to know the couple, their personalities and how they intertwine in their interpersonal dynamics. The therapist might want to talk to the partners separately, in order to see their personal thoughts and wishes.
  • The second part is pinpointing the problems and conflict areas. Getting an idea of how these problems are reinforced and how they keep coming up, perpetuated by the ongoing habits of both partners in the relationship dynamic.
  • The third part, after defining the problem and its signs, is the part of healing. This requires everyone’s effort – the therapist is guiding towards new ways of functioning, communicating and experiencing things, but it’s the partners who give all their efforts in order to achieve the goal- milestone by milestone.
  • The last part is incorporating those new ways of functioning within the relationship. Everything that has been said or practiced in therapy needs to slowly find its place into the everyday lives of the partners, and that process can take some time if it’s to be done naturally and genuinely.

Pros of Online Relationship Counseling

Comfort & convenience

The first positive thing about online relationship counseling is comfort. It’s more than clear that people open up more easily and are allowing themselves to be vulnerable in their personal space. When therapy is done from the comfort of the home, the partners are more natural and free to express. That, in turn, gives the therapist a good representation of their natural communication within the home.

Not having to drive to and from the therapist’s office is the next good thing about online couple’s therapy. It saves time, money and it makes all participants of therapy more involved and present. Since there is not time needed to commute, online relationship counseling can fit into your busy schedule with more ease.

Real world setting

When going to therapy, people usually prepare and think of what they need to say or explain, and how they are going to do that. The professional setting of a therapists’ office might make the clients feel more formal, which has its perks, but also slows down the process of opening up.

Home settings on the other hand, is also perfect for experimenting new ways of acting or thinking, based on the individual problem. For example, if fitting, the therapist might tell the partners to move closer, for one to leave the room shortly, or maybe go and talk from another room. If needed, the partners can also reenact a situation, or maybe experiment by giving alternative endings to something that happened. And the idea that stays behind is powerful – in the same space where they get angry with each other, they can also find understanding and support, if they are aware and willing to make adjustments.

Cons of Online Relationship Counseling

Connectivity issues (in both literal and metaphorical sense)

Potential down sides of online marriage counseling and couples therapy are issues with the electronics or the internet connection. Also, being in their home, the clients might be distracted by their phones, their kids or other disruptions.

If not discussed and minimized, these distractions can seriously interrupt the work setting and make the couple feel like they talk to a long distance friend, and not a therapist.

Difficulty for the therapist to read body language

The second problem that needs to be surpassed is the inability of the counselor to follow nonverbal cues. Nonverbal language is really important as it provides a visual expression of how we are feeling and what we are thinking. This can lend fruitful insights for the therapeutic process.

One good way to get around this problem is for the relationship therapist to encourage clients to verbally express how they are feeling, in addition to what they think. More than just getting to know them, with this simple exercise, the therapist will provoke the couple to express feelings in a clear way for all to understand.

Needing time together in person

This aspect comes pretty heavy when the partners are separated due to profession or their personal problems. If the couple is living separately and receiving counseling for relationship issues, therapy time is the only time that they are together. If they are separated in the virtual therapy space as well, it might feel harder to connect.

Ending Words

How successful and effective online marriage counseling and couples therapy is, comes down to the set of people working together. If the relationship therapist is experienced, educated and creative in a way that is a good fit for what the couples are looking for, the therapist can turn every situation into a growing opportunity. Also, if the clients are open to putting in the effort to actively engage in therapy, online couples counseling can do wonders. In some cases, it can bring even bigger results, since opening up at home gives a lot of opportunities. In other cases, it just doesn’t feel right, and the clients should choose if they want to continue working and under which circumstances.

With the situation as it is, online counseling for relationship issues has turned into regular practice. It has pros and cons, but it comes down to clients and relationship therapists to give it their best shot, try to make it work and see how it goes.

So, if you are in need of couples counseling, don’t wait to make a change. Yes, times are strange, but as soon as possible things will get back to face-to-face therapy. Or, if it is a better fit, relationship counseling can continue happening from the comfort of your home. Nonetheless, don’t postpone making a positive impact on your relationship.

Start Relationship Counseling in Baltimore, MD

Sometimes the lows in relationships can be difficult to overcome alone.  New Connections Counseling Center and our therapists can provide you with the tools and knowledge to set your relationship on the path to positive change.  Contact New Connections Counseling Center regarding online counseling for relationship issues!

Other Services at New Connections Counseling Center in Baltimore, MD

A relationship is made up of two individual people with their own unique life experiences.  New Connections Counseling Center offers individual relationship counseling as it is important to nurture one’s self in order to nurture one’s relationships with others.  Additionally, anxiety, depression, past trauma, and substance abuse can impact how one relates, interacts, and connects with others. At New Connections, we provide anxiety therapy, therapy for depression, and alcohol abuse treatment.  We also offer therapy for sexual assault survivors.  Reach out for more information or help.


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About the Author:

Cathy Sullivan-Windt

Psychologist (Ph.D.) & Owner

Cathy is a licensed counseling psychologist with almost 20 years of experience. She specializes in women’s counseling, anxiety treatment, sexual assault recovery, life transitions, and relationship issues.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time in nature, traveling, reading, and being with her family and friends.

Read More About Cathy

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