Online marriage counseling, thanks to videoconferencing with Skype, Zoom, Google Duo, Facetime, and other encrypted digital software, is now possible. You no longer need to leave home in order to access a mental health professional and have a session. However, while the benefits of online marriage counseling are probably obvious, there are concerns as well.
Whether you choose in-person or online marriage counseling will be up to you and your needs. However, we’ve put this article together to present you with the pros and cons, which we hope will help you make the most informed decision.
First, let’s cover the benefits of online marriage counseling. Some couples use videoconferencing out of necessity because they live in geographic locales that have a shortage of mental health clinicians. These clients now have access to therapy where consistent therapeutic treatment would not have been possible before. Another benefit is that bad weather, illness, or business trips no longer have to interfere with your treatment. If you move, you can maintain the therapeutic relationship created between you and the therapist you’ve come to know and trust. This is especially crucial because the therapeutic relationship is so much of what heals psychological distress.
In addition to these benefits, in-person marriage counseling can actually be an obstacle for some couples. When this is the only option available, some couples will choose not to get counseling. It can be uncomfortable to share personal information with someone you don’t know in a place you’re not familiar with. However, participating in online marriage counseling from the comfort of your own home reduces the awkwardness of the situation.
Some marriage counselors feel that these pros don’t always outweigh the cons. Counselors report that something is lost when therapy takes place outside of the clinical space of the office.
Some therapists feel that online marriage counseling creates emotional distance, making therapeutic rapport more difficult to establish. These therapists claim that patients find it difficult to let down their guard and take emotional risks. Unfortunately, some of these difficulties are simply the result of the limitations of the technology.
In addition to this, online marriage counseling disrupts a basic foundation of the therapeutic connection: eye contact. Patients and therapists typically look at each other’s faces on the computer screen, but because the camera is perched on top of the computer, their gazes are off-kilter.
It’s also common for sessions to be cut off or stilted due to internet connectivity issues. These connectivity issues can also make the sound move slower than the video, freezing, or sound cutting in and out. All of this can degrade the therapeutic experience.
Jennifer De Francisco’s Thoughts About Online Marriage Counseling
There is a place for online marriage counseling. If you live in a remote location, have a traveling job, or have a debilitating condition that makes it impossible to leave the house, online counseling is appropriate. I am most comfortable using this modality with current clients that I already have a rapport with who have perhaps moved out of the area, or cannot attend frequent sessions due to traveling. I am not opposed to online marriage counseling with new patients, but I would need to have a telephone assessment with them first to determine if online therapy would be appropriate.
Finding a Marriage Counselor Online
If you’re interested in online marriage counseling and don’t already have a relationship with a therapist, it’s important to find someone in your state that is licensed and has experience with teletherapy. There’s an art to online counseling and you should work with someone who knows how to avoid therapeutic pitfalls.
If you are located in the Newport Beach or Orange County area and are looking for a marriage counselor to help you strengthen your marriage, reach out to Jennifer De Francisco, LCSW at (949) 251-8797 or make an appointment on our website.