Tom and Kathy were having problems in their marriage and really needed relationship advice. They had been married just a short while and knew that counseling would probably help them. While things were hard, they truly loved each other and wanted to try anything that could possibly help.
But where could they turn? The phone book and online lists offered the names of local relationship counselors, but Tom and Kathy didn’t know who to choose or who would be best suited to help them. They wanted to ask for referrals from others, but they didn’t want to offend anyone or cause their friends and family to be concerned about them.
Besides that, Tom traveled a lot, and Kathy worked during most counselors’ office hours. Trying to go see a therapist together or even separately would not be an easy task. How could they work things out? Then one day, Kathy came across the idea of relationship counseling online.
What is relationship counseling online?
It’s very similar to traditional face-to-face counseling, but instead it is done remotely through online means. Depending on the program, therapists may communicate with patients via email or Skype, and programs may follow a certain curriculum with experts offering feedback to questions or concerns.
What are the pros of doing relationship counseling online instead of in person?
- It’s easy for your busy lifestyle: With the example of Tom and Kathy, meeting in person with a counselor may not even be possible, but they still want to benefit from that resource. So going online means they can stay home and pick times that are better for them and are outside most traditional in-person therapist office hours.
- It doesn’t matter where you are: Another pro is that the couple can take part while in their own home, which can add to the feeling of comfort rather than the foreign feeling of an unfamiliar therapist’s office. It’s also a great feature for those couples who may live far away from a marriage counselor.
- Set appointments outside typical office hours: Using online counseling can also be more immediate with less wait time between sessions, and session times can be more variable to allow couples the ability to get in when they are able. Like Tom and Kathy, you are both likely very busy and doing this online can fit into your schedule better.
- With no overhead or extra support staff, costs are typically lower: Depending on the program, online counseling can be a less expensive option. For some couples this could mean the difference of utilizing counseling or not at all.
- Online therapy sites add value: Many online relationship counseling programs offer study tools that are easy to access and complement the online advice offering.
- You can focus on the problem with extra confidentiality: Going to therapy isn’t a fun process. Some couples may be afraid to meet a counselor in person; the online component adds a layer of anonymity to the process and may help some feel more comfortable. Also, many people be more apt to be open and honest when talking with someone they don’t see face to face.
- No need to label your relationship: When people go to a counselor, they feel like something is wrong with them. They also feel as if people might judge them. Just driving to the office and going to the waiting room feels like a failure. Doing this at home through an online source takes away a lot of that stigma.
What are the cons of doing relationship counseling online instead of in person?
- Seeing is believing: The couple or the therapist may miss some of the body language or “unsaid” things from the couple that could be better observed in an “in-person” setting.
- Going into an office makes it more official: Another con could be that the convenience of doing it online makes the couple take it for granted more; with no “deadline” or appointment, they could be more apt to miss some of the program; whereas with an in-person appointment couples could be more likely to show up and participate because the date is set and they arranged their schedules to accommodate the session.
- Some might not take it as seriously: Because it’s more casual, some might argue the effectiveness of online relationship counseling, wondering if it’s enough to help change couples.
- Question the credentials of online therapists: Because they are online, it can be easier for therapists or “experts” to possibly be misleading. It’s very important to double check a therapist’s schooling and background to make sure they are qualified to help you.
- Computers or the Internet or websites aren’t always reliable: Sometimes glitches happen; if things are really rough in your relationship then those technical issues will make you wait to get help.
After going over the pros and cons, Tom and Kathy decided to jump in with two feet and seek relationship advice through online relationship counseling. It was a new experience for them, but in the end they knew it would be worth a try.
They picked a program and both got to work. It wasn’t easy—dealing with issues in a relationship is never a fun thing to do—but through the process they both learned how to better communicate their feelings, work through old hurt, and move forward together as a couple.