What is online therapy for couples?
Online couples therapy is a type of digital therapy that focuses on interpersonal relationships of a romantic nature via the internet. Just like any other form of online therapy (online therapy link) the context of the therapy does not differ from traditional in person therapy, but the setting that it takes place in does.
Just like traditional couples therapy it is focused on supporting a couple in understanding and exploring a way forward with relational distress. Difficulties that arise in relationships and can be a useful focus in couples therapy can involve exploring the impact of difficult experiences or distress on the way in which the couple functions, communication problems, intimacy issues, lack of closeness or not spending time together.
How does online relationship therapy work?
Online couples therapy makes therapy more accessible, especially for couples with busy schedules. Online couples therapy can also take away from the stress of managing different schedules and commuting to in person sessions. Studies suggest that it can be as effective as in person therapy and that some couples may even feel more comfortable doing the session online given it provides the opportunity to join the session from their own environment. Online couples therapy uses video conferencing and will involve the therapist and couple meeting via this means.
Couples therapy aims to reduce conflict and difficulties in the relationship. The sessions are facilitated by the therapist who works to enable both parties to communicate more clearly their thoughts and feelings and ultimately work towards a mutual solution. Along with exploring the distress within a relationship and enabling better communication, couples therapy can also provide a space for a couple to explore, where this exists, any questions around whether the relationship should continue or not.
How to get couples therapy online in the UK?
During the pandemic many talking therapy providers moved to providing services online and many have still remained or partly offer online sessions.
In the UK online couples therapy can be accessed via the NHS or privately. Treatment via the NHS should be free and some Improving Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) Services in England have therapists trained in Couple Therapy for Depression and/or Behavioural Couple Therapy. You can discuss with your GP about a referral to your local IAPT or self refer. Tavistock Relationships also offers online couple therapy for a fee.
What can we expect from digital couples therapy?
Prior to your online couples therapy it is important to find a practitioner with whom both parties feel comfortable to work. Booking a session online would involve agreeing on a time that suits all parties and making sure that they have access to a device and Internet connection at that time. Often prior to any type of therapy, there might be a mix of different thoughts and feelings present for each person in the couple. For instance, some may experience some apprehension either about the therapy process or what might be expressed in therapy, or there may be some doubt around whether therapy might be the right type of support for you both. The therapist will support you through any concerns you might have.
The first session may involve the therapist asking questions about the relationship history and values upheld by family history or cultural influences. The therapist may also ask the couple to identify a focal difficulty for the sessions or can support the couple to explore this where it is unclear. Often after the first appointment or subsequent ones, the couple and therapist may agree based on the work within the session tasks to practice outside of the session. This might involve continuing to work on specific strategies practiced in the session to improve their communication in their day to day interactions.
What’s the effect and benefits of doing couples therapy online?
Online couples therapy can be more accessible than traditional couples therapy, as it enables couples with busy schedules to attend. Online couples therapy can also take away from the stress of having to navigate two busy schedules as well as the commute to therapy where this occurred in person.. Online couples therapy is not solely limited to the video conferencing sessions with the therapist, as it may also benefit from online resources to aid the couple in working towards their shared goals. Additionally online resources shared with the couple can be worked through in their own time as well as revisited when they see fit.