Online therapy platforms are revolutionizing how couples receive therapy when seeking help with their relationship troubles. With approximately 42% of marriages ending in divorce (1), with one-third of married couples feeling distressed (2), it is understandable why most people think that the odds are stacked against them. It’s unquestionable that it takes a lot of work to maintain a happy and healthy relationship. But even those who are willing to put forth the effort often hit a rough patch and in turn, find themselves in a seemingly hopeless situation. Although research has shown that couples therapy is effective in improving stressful relationships, only about one-third of divorcing couples give it a shot before breaking their wedding vows. There is a definite need for making marriage and couples therapy more accessible and online counseling platforms meet this urgent demand.
Is Couples Therapy Effective?
When it comes to fixing broken relationships, there are a lot of moving parts to the equation. Too often, marriages suffer in silence for a long time before one or both parties arrive at a point of sounding the alarm. In fact, therapy is frequently considered as a last-ditch effort before filing for divorce. At this stage, the relationship has suffered greatly, and is at a breaking point with a shaky foundation to build on. Each couple has a unique story, set of circumstances and different degree of motivation. If you and your partner contemplate counseling, you should ask yourself the following questions.
How long has your relationship been suffering?
How much does the chance of saving your marriage mean to you?
Has their been abuse (emotional or physical)?
Answering these and other similar questions will help you assess the likelihood of success. As far as therapy methods, EFT or Emotionally Focused Therapy is a widely utilized therapy method that many counselors have seen great success using. By helping couples understand and reorganize their emotional responses, couples get a better understanding of each other. When couples apply EFT in their relationship, the results are quite impressive, with 90 percent of them reporting significant improvements.
What Are The Barriers To Couples Counseling?
One of the reasons why so many couples delay asking for professional help to solve their marital issues is the unsexy connotation that is attached to marriage counseling. The terms “couples therapy” and “marriage counseling” do not evoke warm and fuzzy feelings in most of us. The entire concept sounds highly unromantic that involves grueling work, tons of patience and painfully embarrassing conversations we don’t even want to think about, let alone discuss them with our partner and expose them in front of a professional.
Another barrier to couples therapy is cost. Let’s face it; counseling can be expensive. Depending on where you live and the type of counselor you see, you can expect to pay anywhere between $75 to $200 per hour (4). This can be a significant financial burden on an already stressful relationship.
If you live outside of the metropolitan areas, finding a licensed therapist may be a challenge. Studies have shown that over 77% of the counties in the U.S. have a severe shortage of mental health professionals (3). Having to jump through hoops and travel long distances can majorly undermine the success of an intervention. Counseling typically requires multiple sessions with a therapist and regularly showing up takes commitment. Even if you are fortunate enough to find a counselor with whom you feel comfortable, you may have to wait a long time before getting that first appointment.
Impact Of Divorce On Mental Health
Tragically, about half of all divorces involve couples with children. Divorce leads to negative health consequences for both, adults and children (4). Becoming a single parent has some unique challenges, financial worries, depression, and loss of identity for women in particular. Studies have also shown that children of divorced parents, on average, have lower academic performance compared to children from intact families. Divorce also increases the risk of children developing psychological disorders in the future.
Here is the catch, however. Staying in a dysfunctional relationship is equally detrimental to mental health as going through a divorce. Staying in a toxic marriage, for example, can increase your chances of developing anxiety disorder. What research is saying is that merely “staying together” will not prevent the negative outcomes. The best way to protect your mental health is by turning your relationship around and change it for the better.
Why Online Couples Counseling?
Online relationship counseling platforms are incredibly valuable in the sense that they help reach a wider audience. Through their low-cost, web-based format, they offer the possibility of reconciliation to those who wouldn’t consider couples therapy delivered in a traditional, face-to-face setting. There are several possible barriers to why two-thirds of divorcing couples end their marriage without seeking out the help of a professional.
Receiving counseling online provides a convenient and affordable way to gain access to a licensed therapist. Couples can benefit from professional advice that’s available to them from anywhere, through a laptop, computer or a smartphone. This flexibility is an especially attractive feature to busy people, who work long hours and wouldn’t even consider traditional therapy setting as an option, due to their already hectic schedule. To them, not having to rush around town to get to a physical office is priceless. With online counseling, it is much easier for them to set up therapy appointments and still meet their work obligations.
The cost of online therapy sessions, on average, are significantly less than face-to-face counseling. Most online platforms employ the services of multiple licensed, trained and experienced psychologists, couples therapists, and licensed counselors. With the help of the web, anyone, from any part of the country can have access to these highly trained professionals at a fraction of the average $75-$200 (5) rates that in-person counselors typically charge. For as little as $35 a week, you and your partner can begin working with a professional (6).
Couples who have used online couples therapy services feel more comfortable opening up to one another and to the therapist when they are in a familiar environment. Many people feel uncomfortable in unfamiliar places and have real trouble talking about the things that bother them. You and your partner are much more likely to feel safe discussing sensitive issues in your home, as opposed to in a strange place, like an office. Couples therapy is meant to be an intimate process. The first step in the direction of successful counseling is to make both parties feel comfortable enough so that they are willing and able to share their deepest thoughts and feelings. The online setting may help enhance this feeling of intimacy.
Helps Improve Mental Health
Suffering from mental health issues among couples who struggle with marital problems is not uncommon. It is easy to imagine why someone may become saddened by their failing relationship. Prolonged sadness can quickly turn into a chronic state of depression. Online counseling can help here as well. Online counselors are licensed therapists who specialize in helping married couples resolving their problems amicably. If your marriage can be saved, they will walk alongside you, and if it has passed the point of return, they can help facilitate the separation process. Your online counselor will be actively engaged in helping you, and your spouse to find a resolution and help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.
How Does Online Couples Counseling Work?
Whether you are involved in traditional or online couples counseling, what you can expect is quite similar. During your regular therapy sessions, you will be discussing your relationship problems with your therapist and your partner. You will learn to share your feelings openly and talk about your likes and dislikes. Expect to receive the same level of care from your online counselor that you would get in a therapist’s office. Exercises and discussions are designed to help you, as a couple, feel more connected, move you out of a state of inertia and get you ready to grow your relationship. Improving your communication with your spouse is likely to be one of the main objectives.
Overall, online couples therapy offers a very similar experience, but much more choices. You will not be limited to professionals in your hometown. You can choose who you work with and decide who you entrust with your most intimate matters, and base your decision on criteria other than geographical proximity. You can work with a therapist, even if he or she is halfway across the world. Your chances of finding someone with whom you are comfortable is much greater in an online setting. Your comfort level with your therapist should be an important consideration. Success is unlikely when you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable opening up in front of your counselor. With the thousands of different therapists to choose from on online platforms, you can make an educated decision. If you have a good feeling about someone, schedule a session. This freedom of choice, great flexibility, convenience, and affordability are all part of the explanation of why online couples counseling has been increasing in popularity.