Does Online Therapy Really Work For Couples Counseling?
posted: May 27, 2023.
In the pre-covid years, I had a psychotherapy office, where I would see my client in person. Since my predominant focus has always been couples therapy, most of my clients were, and still are - couples. Then, around May 2020, all psychotherapy clinics in Los Angeles, California, were ordered to close, following Covid public safety protocols, and I had to come up with a solution for myself and my clients.
At that time, I truly was prejudiced against online therapy. My training was rooted in the traditional ideas of psychotherapy, in which the therapy office serves as a container for the psychological work the clients are doing. Up until that time I refused to offer telehealth video sessions. My concern was that significant interpersonal factors might get lost in the transition to video psychotherapy. However, since the only two options all psychologists had at that time were either to stop their work altogether or to offer online therapy, I chose the latter.
Exactly 3 years later, in May 2023, I reviewed the clinical outcomes of my clients in the past 3 years and compared them to the results my clients achieved in the in-person couples therapy era, prior to 2020. I can confidently say that online couples therapy proved to be as clinically effective as in-person work if we are to consider treatment outcomes. In addition, online couples counseling offers significant benefits that can make a big difference.
The most obvious advantage of online therapy is the remarkable convenience and lack of commute. Most of my clients are professional couples. Often both partners have quite busy careers. Finding a time that fits all of our schedules can be a challenge. Eliminating the commute and having the option to join the session from different locations (office, business trip, lunch break, etc) proved to be a very significant advantage to many of my couples. Folks with very busy schedules – executives, entrepreneurs, and entertainers – have been able to find time to do the relationship work mostly because of the flexibility online therapy affords.
The second benefit of online therapy is it happens in your own home, in your familiar space, in your comfort zone. For some, it reduces the anxiety and discomfort that may be associated with starting therapy. It often puts couples at ease to open up about the core issues that brought them into therapy, about the current state of their relationship, and about their goals for couples therapy.
The third powerful advantage is the natural transition of insight and skills from couples therapy sessions into the fabric of the relationship. When I used to see clients in-person, some would have an excellent session and, on their way out, would leave behind all insights and skills they learned, only to pick them back up the following session. Online couples therapy makes this separation between therapy and the “real world” almost impossible. The couple is gaining understanding and relationship mastery in the actual space where the relationship unfolds, which eases the transfer of skills and insights from the sessions into the relationship itself.
Clinically, both online therapy and in-person therapy are equally powerful tools to transform your relationship. Online couples therapy has some strong advantages in comparison to in-person work, with the main disadvantage being personal preference or lack of uninterrupted time at home. If you are thinking about enhancing your relationship, resolving conflict, and improving intimacy, we have something to talk about. Call or text so we can find time for a complimentary phone consultation.