Is online marriage counseling right for you?
You know your marriage needs a boost, but you’re not sure where to start. You think counseling could help, but it probably won’t work with your schedule. Between work, the kids and all your other obligations, free time is a luxury you can’t afford at the moment. These days, it seems everything else is online so why not online marriage counseling?
Is it even a thing? Is it legit? And what are the benefits or limitations of it?
Hopefully, I can save you a bit of time in your search because I’ve been researching online marriage counseling lately, and I’m happy to share a little bit about what I’ve learned.
Like you, I was curious and after doing a little digging, I’ve been pretty surprised.
What is online marriage counseling?
If you’re familiar with traditional marriage counseling then online counseling won’t be a huge surprise. It’s an ultra-convenient way to get the emotional and relational support you need from the comfort of your home.
The counselors employed are professionally trained and licensed by their state boards. Taking it a step further, you can check out your counselor just like you would your favorite restaurant on Yelp. Past clients leave the counselors reviews and share the feedback they’ve had from their counseling sessions.
Here’s an example of a couple of reviews I found from the service BetterHelp:
Even after just one call with Andrea I felt a lot of relief from my issues. She really listened to me and gave me actionable steps. She didn’t judge me when I talked about difficult topics. I’m very happy to continue working with her.
Dr. Nunnery is honestly the best, though I may be biased. I have never really had a high opinion of any doctors, much less thought that psychology held much weight, but she has really helped me a lot and shown me that there are other paths to my goals than the ones I had been taught traditionally.
How they choose your counselor
Each counselor is specialised in a certain area, like self-esteem, relationships, depression, adolescent issues, etc. So the service works to match you with the counselor that meets your criteria. For example, you may request an older female counselor who specializes in relationships so the online counseling service does a database search and matches you with the type of counselor you requested.
In order to match you with the best counselor, the services will typically give you a survey when you sign-up to understand a little more about you and what you’re looking for.
They’ll check for signs of depression, ask what you’re trying to improve and ask questions about the type of counselor you’d like to meet with.
Although the survey can seem a bit tedious at first, just think of it as really sifting through the counselors on the site to get the one who’s truly perfect for your situation.
Shortcomings of online marriage counseling
While online marriage counseling is a convenient way to sort through your problems as a couple, as you can imagine, there are a few shortcomings to the system.
If you’re keen for a face-to-face conversation you will be able to have it over video chat but you won’t be able to physically meet with your counselor. While there are a variety of other ways to meet, this is a limitation of online counseling.
Unlike traditional counseling, online counseling offers several ways you can talk with your therapist, including online chats and texting. However, when the conversation isn’t happening in real time, you may find that some of the non-verbal cues can be lost.
Upfront investment of time
You might imagine yourself finding the online counseling service you’re interested in and jumping straight to the counseling session. However, as we discussed earlier, many services take you through a survey process first that takes 5 minutes or so to complete. By being aware that it’s part of the sign-up process, it’s easier to be less surprised and bogged down by it when you run into it on the site.
Delay in conversation
Sometimes you may find a delay in the conversation. Because the counseling rooms are open 24/7, you may find that you leave your counselor a message and because of the time of day or because they’re helping others, there will be a slight delay in when they respond. Though slightly inconvenient, it’s the result of creating a counseling service that makes counsellors more available than your typical one-session-a-week, traditional counselor.
Benefits of online marriage counseling
Even still there are many benefits to getting counseling for your marriage in an online setting. Even though it may seem a bit strange at the beginning, people once thought online dating was weird too and now you seldom find singles who haven’t at least dabbled in it.
No travel time
Sometimes the challenge in marriage is that there isn’t enough time to spend together. Between travel time to work, professional responsibilities, kids, cooking dinner and cleaning up, there’s hardly any time to think about how the relationship is going, let alone get counseling.
Online counseling cuts out the travel time and the need to find a sitter so you can make your appointment. By meeting online, you can simply find a quiet spot in the house to steal away and chat online with your counselor or to take a video call.
Compared to the cost of traditional counseling, online counseling is far cheaper and allows you to talk more frequently with your counselor.
Services like BetterHelp are about $65 per week (and in some cases can be a bit lower) and allow you to talk to your counselor as much as you need to.
Traditional counseling can typically run from $60 – $150/session.
Available at anytime
Unlike traditional counseling, online counseling is available whenever you need to chat. The private message room that’s reserved for you and your counselor is accessible to you 24/7. You counselor will check the room each day to respond to any questions you may have.
Variety of ways to communicate
Additionally, you can schedule times to talk to the counsellor over text, video or the phone.
Online Counseling Services
The decision to get counseling in your marriage is not admitting to defeat it’s an investment into the most important relationship you’ll have in this life. Considering doing it online can make it that much more affordable, accessible and doable. Here are a few services you may want to consider:
Better Help – If you’re looking for an online counseling service with a wide variety of counselors, who are accredited, vetted and reviewed, Better Help may be the best option for you.
Faithful Counselling – If you’re looking for a counselor to give you guidance and mental health support from a Christian perspective, Faithful Counselling offers a service that has been tailored to the needs of practicing Christians.
Regain – Regain offers couples counseling from therapists who are qualified to support couples as well as individuals.