Online therapy is growing in popularity. But is it as effective as in-person? And could it really work for couples counselling as well?

How does relationship counselling work online?

Much like individual online therapy, it simply means you log in to an agreed on platform like Skype or FaceTime at the set time, and you carry out your sessions by video conferencing.

But the unique selling point here is that you and your partner don’t even need to be in the same room, or even country, to do your sessions. A group video chat can be set up to log into, so you can be at home and your partner can be at work. Or if one partner is away on business, the session can still go ahead.

Does online therapy work?

There has been research done for some time on the phenomenon of therapy at a distance, either by phone or video. And the results are generally positive. A study carried out by Swedish universities, for example, found online therapy effectively treated anxiety disorders.

And in some cases internet therapy has even been found to be more effective than in person counselling. A Canadian study looking at online CBT therapy found it to be slightly more effective than in-person CBT.

Of course it does come down to you as an individual. If you hate talking to friends and family over the internet as it doesn’t feel connected enough for you? You might be the type of person who benefits more from working with a talk therapist in person.

When online is the better choice for you both

Relationship counselling online can be a better choice than in person if:

  • you are always on a tight schedule and could use the saved time of not going to and fro to a therapist's office
  • at least one of you needs to stay in the house with the kids
  • one of you is always travelling for work
  • you are in a trial separation and find yourselves in different cities
  • your chosen therapist is in your hometown but you are travelling together
  • you are so acrimonious that you no longer feel safe in the same room
  • sitting in a small office with a stranger talking about your intimate life feels too cloistered and strange for you both.
Some couples simply find being at home together in their own environment, and having the therapist only present by computer, keeps them feeling more relaxed and connected while still having support to communicate.

What if we can't decide between online or in-person?

You might not have to. If the therapist works in the same city as where you are based, it is possible to ask if they do mixed sessions. You can agree to meet in person when possible and then work over the internet when one of you is travelling, for example.

Think it's time you both got your issues sorted and remember why you fell in love in the first place? Book a couples counsellor now and talk your way forward.

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