Teletherapy for Couples: Strengthening Relationships Remotely

Teletherapy for Couples - Strengthening Relationships

Couples today face many relationship challenges. Teletherapy offers a convenient way to address these issues while strengthening their relationship….

The Teletherapy Boom: The Rise of Online Counseling

Online counseling has dramatically increased in popularity in recent years. The most significant increase occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, when in-person counseling was drastically curtailed or nonexistent. Since then, the demand for teletherapy has only risen. The trend inevitably has something to do with the fact that teletherapy is accessible, flexible, convenient, cost-effective, and more readily available.

Looking for Therapy? Consider Remote Relationship Counseling

When you and your partner are in urgent need of professional counseling, it can be overwhelming to sort and prioritize one therapist over another. Then, there’s the challenge of getting an appointment to see whether you and a prospective therapist are really compatible.

No wonder so many couples abandon the effort and give up on finding appropriate marital counseling. Here’s where online couples therapy may provide the best solution.

Advantages of Couples Teletherapy

Is teletherapy a viable option for couples? Looking at its strengths may prove insightful and tip the scales in favor of choosing teletherapy for relationship counseling.

Online Couples Teletherapy is Affordable

Counseling can be cost-prohibitive in person. Often, online couples therapy is the more affordable option.

Couples Teletherapy: Who It Works Best For

With many therapists available, couples teletherapy is best for partners and couples who sincerely want to improve their relationships and themselves.

Experienced, Trained, Licensed Therapists

When choosing couples teletherapy, look for providers whose therapists are licensed, trained, and experienced.

Couples Teletherapy Specialties

Not every couple seeking couples teletherapy has the same issues. Some are just beginning their relationships, while others have been partners for many years. For some couples, recovering from infidelity is why they seek counseling. Others are looking for specialized online couples therapy.

Other advantages of teletherapy for couples include:

  • This type of therapy can be invaluable for those unable to travel to a therapist’s office or who are homebound for other reasons.
  • Teletherapy for couples can provide improved access to care. It may make opening up to the therapist easier for some because they can participate in sessions in the privacy of their home environment.
  • Technology makes it easy and convenient to participate in couples teletherapy.

Anonymity Is an Option

Not everyone wants to have their identity revealed during counseling sessions. The best online counseling programs for couples provide the option of anonymity—at least in group couples therapy sessions.

Remote Relationship Counseling Works Anywhere, Anytime

For maximum scheduling flexibility, remote relationship counseling allows couples to choose the time and date that suits them best.

Disadvantages of Remote Relationship Counseling

What about the potential drawbacks of couples teletherapy? What should you watch out for?

Finding a Therapist That Fits May Be Challenging

While getting on board with remote relationship counseling is simple, finding the right therapist may present a challenge. Be prepared to invest appropriate time to investigate, interview, and try out several therapists.

Therapists’ Response Time May Be Long

While it depends on many factors, couples using some counseling platforms experience dissatisfaction with how long it takes for therapists to respond.

Technological Problems

While technology is an excellent enabler for couples’ online counseling, it can also pose challenges.

  • Connections may be slow, spotty, or inconsistent, resulting in audio or video distortion, freezes, lost connections, and other problems.
  • It isn’t always possible for couples to be together in the same location for the teletherapy session. If the provider of couples teletherapy doesn’t offer three-way calls, this may be inconvenient and a non-starter.

Online Psychotherapy Limitations

While online counseling has many advantages, one significant drawback is that not all psychotherapeutic approaches work best online.

  • EMDR — Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a specific mental health technique to treat the processing of traumatic memories. This type of psychotherapy doesn’t lend itself to online counseling. The interactive technique is effective in relieving psychological stress, but it requires in-person interaction with a trained EMDR therapist. It’s also a one-on-one therapy, not suited for couples.
  • Complex Issues — Couples with complex issues to resolve may have a more satisfactory counseling experience when working with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or another licensed professional.

Therapists Qualifications and Skills May Vary

Depending on the remote relationship counseling provider, some therapists or coaches may not be licensed. Their levels of experience and skills in this counseling field may also vary. This can be off-putting to many couples who seek expert counseling to help them strengthen their relationships and work on their issues.

Insurance May Not Cover Online Couples Therapy

Most employer-sponsored and private insurance may not cover teletherapy for couples. Neither does Medicare. The exception is if there is an underlying mental health issue, such as anxiety, depression, substance use disorder, or PTSD, requiring treatment for the individual, and couples therapy may be offered as a part of treatment. Some assistance to pay for teletherapy for couples may be available through church, community groups, or other programs (including employee assistance programs at work).

Efficacy of Couples Teletherapy

How effective is couples teletherapy? According to research, couples therapy conducted online is as effective as therapy provided in person overall. Notably, however, there are differences in how the therapist-client alliance develops.

While couples need time to feel comfortable with their therapist, the therapist and couple may feel a distinct lack of presence. Online, virtual, and telehealth therapy can feel disembodied. After overcoming this hurdle, work can proceed on getting to the issues and working on potential solutions.

Couples who view themselves as a team working together to improve their relationship and solve problems causing distress may enjoy better outcomes, research suggests.

How Couples Teletherapy Works

Remote relationship counseling can bring much-needed professional guidance to couples looking for ways to strengthen their relationships. However, how couples teletherapy works is still largely unclear. It’s called by several names: telecounseling, e-counseling, e-therapy, teletherapy, and cybercounseling.

In many respects, teletherapy for couples works much the same as therapy during in-person sessions. The main difference is that the counseling occurs via phone, text, email, videoconferencing, or the therapist’s telehealth platform.

  • When couples enter teletherapy, it is usually because they’re committed to strengthening their relationship, working on their problems and issues, and doing so with intention. What exists may not be broken, but it may be severely strained.
  • The first couples therapy session online is typically when you get acquainted with the therapist—and vice-versa. As a couple, you’ll each ask questions and discuss what issues or problems in the relationship you’d like to address.
  • There may be homework for each partner to complete between sessions. Other recommended psychoeducational materials or sources can help individuals explore issues more fully so they can be discussed in the next therapy session.
  • Sessions vary in length, with some longer ones lasting up to an hour.

How to Make the Most of Online Couples Therapy

If you embark on online couples therapy, you’ll want to maximize the experience. Here are some tips to help you succeed.

  • Arrange your schedule so your teletherapy sessions occur when you’re fresh, most relaxed, or less likely to have to rush to attend them.
  • Keep distractions at bay. Put your phone on mute (unless you’re using the phone for the teletherapy session). Silence notifications from incoming emails and texts. Close the door to the room you’re in. Do your best to minimize background noise.
  • Choose a private location. You want to be undisturbed during the session. No one would intrude during an in-person counseling visit, so you should have the same privacy during teletherapy sessions.
  • Jot down questions or thoughts. You may have a question you want to ask the therapist during the session. Write it down. Similarly, you may wish to bring up something that happened or a topic you’d like to discuss. Having notes handy can be helpful.
  • Be hopeful and receptive. Therapy works best when you keep an open mind and are receptive to the therapist’s suggestions and observations.
  • Allow your partner to speak freely. In couples teletherapy, each partner deserves to communicate candidly and freely. Avoid interrupting when they’re talking, even if what they say is upsetting or you disagree.
  • Embrace learning, self-awareness, and emotional vulnerability. Counseling involves exploring challenging issues causing problems in the relationship. Be willing to learn new skills with your partner and become more self-aware and emotionally vulnerable.
  • Be open to change. Own your part in whatever problems exist. Adopt a willingness to change your behavior so the relationship benefits.