Online Marriage Counselling is not actually new. I have been offering this option to clients for well over 4 years. And many busy couples have chosen to pursue the online relationship counselling option.
The Coronavirus, COVID-19, has, however, recently turned online marriage counselling into a new perspective. Expect to see this type of counselling — and many other forms of online psychology sessions — become more prevalent in Australia and around the world, as we adjust to a changed way of living.
One of many changes we’re seeing, to help minimise the spread of COVID-19 (and to flatten the curve), is the increase in online sessions versus face-to-face meetings. So if you’re about to arrange marriage counselling for you and your spouse; and want a more convenient option…then online relationship counselling may be well-worth exploring.
Today, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about online marriage counselling, because many couples will find this their most timely and convenient option.
FAQ1: Is online marriage counselling effective or is face-to-face the better option?
People frequently ask me if online marriage counselling is as effective as an in-person, face-to-face session?
- In my experience, yes.
- Online relationship counselling can be as effective as face-to-face sessions.
And with many couples raising children, having a 50-minute/one-hour session with a therapist WITHOUT needing to add another 30 to 60 minutes of commuting and find child-minding — makes attending marriage therapy that much more convenient, and more readily ‘doable’ for both people.
FAQ2: How does a marriage therapist establish rapport during online marriage counselling vs face-to-face sessions?
- The heartfelt nature of Couples Therapy requires an ability to create a warm connection, with each of the partners, very quickly.
- The ability to connect is essential to effective marriage therapy sessions.
- Establishing a warm connection is often called ‘rapport’ building.
Rapport-building helps assure each partner that you have their best interests in mind as a couple, and as an individual; and that the approach — while confronting at times — is going to be caring, loving and kind. A skilled marriage therapist, with long experience doing online counselling, can achieve this rapport with both people in the marriage, online, just as well as they can achieve it in a face-to-face session.
A responsibility-taking approach, without blame, is typically best for rapport building. Couples also get a sense, quickly, of how skilled the therapist is (and this is developed by having dedicated their practice to relationship therapy and working with hundreds of couples).
But this responsibility-taking approach does require commitment and maturity on the part of both people in the marriage. And while repairing a marriage may not take as long as some people think, it often requires dedication and ‘doing the work’ of repair and healing. It certainly is a two-way street; with the marriage therapist a facilitator for the process; to help keep it on track, and speed up the process so long as both people are truly committed to repairing their bond.
Rapport-building in online marriage counselling
To establish a connection online takes some specific interpersonal skills plus a lot of practice. One of the reasons that the couples I help through marriage difficulties tell me I’m helpful, is that they sense how compassionate I am about each of their experiences; and my dedication to helping them repair their marriages to ‘get back to love’.
FAQ3: Can you still read body-language and emotional tension during an online marriage therapy session compared to a face-to-face session?
The fact is that, despite the best efforts of a marriage therapists and truly committed couples, things CAN (and often DO) get tense during therapy sessions.
- Tension is often inevitable.
- Issues raised during Marriage Counselling sessions can be challenging or confronting at times.
- Emotions are raw, and people become vulnerable, angry or afraid.
- A good marriage therapist can definitely read this even when working online; and the therapist can also help reduce the tension, using skillful therapy methods, and helping each person better understand, and show respect for, their spouse.
- The best part is that at least in therapy, that tension can be addressed — the hurts, disappointments, betrayals can be brought into conversation and healed — whereas if left to fester, the relationship tends to deteriorate rather than to heal — so tension in a marriage therapy session is often of a productive nature.
- It doesn’t make it easier, but it means you’re working on a solution; on healing, rather than just picking at the scab (or raw emotional wounds).
To remain effective, a therapist must be flexible and engaging, combining both vibrant personality and soft compassion; and an adept therapist, during an online session, will exhibit these traits — these will stream through the digital screen, so couples can feel it as much as they see it.
FAQ4: How many marriage therapy sessions will a couple typically require to ‘get back on track’?
There is no one answer that suits every couple. Some couples move quickly back to a loving state of their relationship; and others take longer. No two are alike.
But a favourite approach of mine is the Premium Accelerator Program for couples who find their marriage facing difficulties and they would like more condensed assistance to help resolve.
The Premium Accelerator Program includes a mix of 2 hour sessions, 5 hour Intensives, 15-30 minute support calls and facetimes, plus some of the usual 60-90 minute sessions.
I am doing less and less of the traditional-method week to week sessions of marriage therapy. That’s because more and more of couples coming to me are opting for Fast Track Premium Accelerator help; which busy, ambitious couples find more effective and pleasing than trudging along to my office week after week, fortnight after fortnight for months.
Even the 5 hour Intensives are done online. Yes!
FAQ5: Any tips for succeeding at online marriage therapy?
It really comes down to your level of commitment and care. And again, different therapy methods and session approaches can be combined for a tailored experience, which is another reason having a seasoned marriage therapist is so important.
I am personally a huge fan of online sessions; for the obvious practical reasons. First, you don’t have to travel anywhere, so you don’t need a babysitter, you don’t need to leave the office if you have a private quiet place to have the session; and hence, you don’t need to let anyone in on the secret that you are participating in Marriage Counselling. Just ensure you have a quiet and undisturbed place where you won’t be overheard; and put a sign on your door (and in your diary) that you’re NOT to be interrupted except for dire emergencies.
In other words, with online relationship counselling sessions, you don’t have to rush out from the office, explain where you’re going, take 2 hours off of work instead of 1 hour (which could be your lunch break), and so forth.
- Instead, you can do the sessions from your office, or home. Essentially from anywhere you have privacy and no distractions.
- Not only that, you and your partner can participate from different locations; which can be both convenient and practical on so many different levels.
Overall, I find that everyone is more relaxed. Can you tell I just LOVE online sessions?
I know this is obvious, but by now the Coronavirus has sharpened our focus on the ease of access to online sessions. So I anticipate it will be tried by many of you seeking timely counselling for your relationship concerns. My guess is you will prefer it; and fairly soon, online marriage counselling sessions will become the norm. Book your call with me
FAQ6: What software/app do you use for marriage therapy when you’re arranging an online session?
My clients live all over Australia and I have many who live in Singapore, the US and Canada.
So I typically usually use Zoom to connect; partially because the sessions can be recorded if requested and then emailed to clients for future reference. This can be very helpful to the couple over time.
However I also use Skype and Facetime if preferred.
Do I offer a free discovery call to see if we’re a good fit? YES You can book that here. Book your call with me
I look forward to answering your questions about modern-day marriage therapy.