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Online couple counselling is not a new concept

You may be hearing a lot more about online couple counselling in recent times, but it is not a new concept. Our recent situation has just forced us to think of alternative ways to continue with everyday tasks and counselling is no different, with many counsellors turning to online methods to continue their practice.  
 
For many therapists, however, this is business as usual and the specific qualifications they hold for working online ensures clients’ safety. It is important when choosing an online counsellor that they have gained the appropriate qualifications to safely work with this medium.
 
Over the years I have seen a significant move away from couples using counselling as a last-ditch attempt to save their relationship. Instead, couples seem to be engaging with a counsellor when they find themselves in a situation which they have tried to resolve themselves but they have been unsuccessful doing this alone.

Couples, in my experience, bring many difficulties to counselling, some because of constant arguing, infidelity, differences in parenting styles or communication issues. Some couples that I see just feel that their relationship is in a rut and they need help to explore and understand what it is that’s stopping them moving forward. Either way, it is lovely to see couples really investing in their relationships.

What are the benefits of online couple counselling?

Online couple counselling is relationship counselling, online. It is preferable for many couples as it is easily accessible, available for you in your own homes and at a time to suit you.

It takes away the stress of travelling to and from an office or arranging babysitters and therefore can also be cost-effective.

For couples whose work takes them away during the week or abroad, online couple counselling means scheduled sessions won’t be disrupted. You can still get together with your therapist from different locations as long as you have a safe secure space and a wi-fi connection. There is no need to put your relationship on hold until you can organise a time to be in the same location.  

What’s the role of the online couple counsellor?

Many couples are reluctant to see a couple’s counsellor. But why? Often it is the fear that their therapist may tell them they are in the wrong and take their partner’s side, or that they would tell them to end their relationship. These perceptions could not be further from the truth.

The counselling process is a collaborative one. Sessions are welcoming, relaxed and are sometimes interspersed with humour to put you at ease. Therapists are impartial, non-judgemental observers of your relationship. They will sit and actively listen to your individual stories - it is important that you are both heard. Together you will explore the issues that you’ve shared and the impact this is having on you both.

Over the sessions, you can try new techniques, as well as negotiate some changes and different ways of doing things, which are often very successful. These new perspectives, techniques and agreed changes within the relationship can achieve big wins. As with all changes, it does take time and practice, and again that is where your therapist will help and support you through the process.

How often should we attend counselling?

A recurring question is “how many sessions do we need?”. The answer depends on the couple and the difficulties that they are experiencing in their relationship. The counselling process is unique to each couple and it’s important to remember long-lasting change doesn’t happen overnight. It will take time, practice and commitment from both sides.  
 
It is common for couples to have approximately 6 – 10 sessions. Sessions often occur once a week, as consistency brings faster results. Long gaps between the sessions tend to extend the time and number of sessions required.  
 
Interestingly, I have observed that choosing online couple counselling can actually lessen the number of sessions that you may need. Something that has become apparent to me during my online career is that couples seem to be more open online than they may be in face-to-face counselling. This may be because they feel more relaxed in their own environment. 
 
Processing after the session varies for each individual – whilst for some this may be almost instant, others have a much slower process. It is important for therapists to encourage their clients to, therefore, manage their own therapy and work at a pace that suits them.

Online couple counselling allows the process to be more flexible.

Many therapists working online are able to offer clients a greater level of flexibility.  For example, if a couple cannot make their Monday appointment on a certain week, then you may be able to reschedule the appointment to another day in that week that is more suitable. 

We have completed 10 sessions -  now what?

Some couples, although the relationship has improved greatly following counselling, fear that if they end the counselling they may slip back into old ways. In situations such as these, some therapists may be able to be flexible and offer phased endings to their counselling and/or follow up appointments. It is worth asking this question when choosing a therapist.

Is the process confidential?

Online couples counsellors are bound by professional ethics to protect your confidentiality and privacy during and after the counselling process ends. 
 
There are some rare situations that may require your therapist to break confidentiality but these are only situations when there may be a risk of harm to yourselves or someone is in imminent danger. There are also situations where a court orders a therapist's records to be released. Confidentiality should always be explained to you before going ahead with the counselling process, and further questions you have on this topic can be discussed.
 
When you are having counselling in your own home, it is important that you have a quiet, uninterrupted space where you cannot be overheard. Using headphones can also be helpful to maintain confidentiality in your own environment.
 
So, some good questions to ask yourselves before embarking on online couples counselling are:

  • Do you have a device on which to download zoom, ie an iPhone, iPad, laptop or android device?
  • Do you have a private uninterrupted space at home, office, or even your car?
  • What do you want to talk about in your sessions and what are you hoping the outcome will be?
  • Do you have a particular budget and/or time constraints?
  • How quickly can you and your partner process information?

It can be incredibly nerve-wracking for some couples to take that first step and ask for the support of a couples counsellor, so I hope that this article has helped to reassure you about the role of a counsellor and the process of online couple counselling.
 
Remember, investment in your relationship ensures that together you are building a stronger, more resilient connection and increasing your wellbeing. 
 
If you would like support or would like to know more about online couple counselling visit Counselling Directory. You can search the database of qualified therapists offering couple counselling and easily drop them a line.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Joanne Mander Bsc.Hons; MA; MBACP

I specialise in Online couples counselling. I have worked in private practice for nine years and I am passionate about working online which I have been doing since qualifying as a relationship counsellor. I continue also to work for Relate as one of their digital counsellors.… Read more

Written by Joanne Mander Bsc.Hons; MA; MBACP

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