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 everday tasks and counselling is no different, with many counsellors turning to online methods to continue their practice.
For me, however, this is business as usual. I have specialised as a couple counsellor for over 12 years, in private practice and at Relate, with the majority of my work being online. I hold appropriate qualifications specifically for working online to ensure my 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 along. 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 Benefit's of Online Couple Counselling?
Online Couple Counselling 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 my 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 our scheduled sessions won't be disrupted. We can still get together 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. Online Couple Counselling is as effective as face to face counselling.
What is the Role of the Online Couple Counsellor?
Many of my clients tell me that they were reluctant to see a couple's counsellor. But why?, I reply. Often it's the fear that I may tell them they are in the wrong and take their partners side, or that I would tell them to end their relationship. These perceptions could not be further from the truth.
The counselling process is a collaborative one. My sessions are welcoming, relaxed and interspersed with humour to put you at ease. Many of my clients tell me I am very easy to talk to, even about the most intimate topics, and that they feel comfortable doing so. I view myself as an impartial, non-judgemental observer of your relationship. I will sit and actively listen to your individual stories - it is important that you are both heard. Together we will explore the issues that you've shared and the impact this is having on you both. Over the sessions we 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 I will help and support you through the process.
How Often Do We Attend Counselling?
Another recurring question I get 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 committment from both sides.
Most couples that I work with have approximately 6 - 10 sessions. Sessions often occur once a week, as im my experience consistency brings faster results. Long gaps between sessions tend to extend the time and number of sessions required.
Interestingly, though, I have observed that choosing online couple counselling can actually lessen the number of sessions that you may need. Something that has become more 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. My first though is that this may be because they feel more relaxed in their own environment.
Processing ater the session varies for each individual - whilst for some this may be almost instant, others have a much slower process. It is important to me that I encourage my clients to thefore manage their own therapy and work at a pace that suits them.
Online Couple Counselling Allows the Process to be More Flexible for You
As I work online, I am able to offer my clients a greater level of flexibility. For example, if a couple cannot make their Monday appointment on a certain week, then together we can reschedule our appointment to another day in that week that is more suitable.
We Have Completed 6 - 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 in to old ways. This not uncommon. In situations such as these, because I can be flexible, I can offer my clients phased endings to their counselling or follow-up appointments. Because I work independently, rather than part of an organisation, if you need to see me again in the future you would not need to wait, we could schedule in an appointment straight away.
Is the Process Confidential?
As an Online Couples Counsellor, I am 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 me to break confidentiality and these are 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 my records to be released. Confidentiality is always explained with you before we go ahead with the counselling process, and any further questions you may 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.
I appreciate how nerve-wracking it can be for some couples to take that first step and ask for the support of a couple's counsellor, so I hope that this blog has helped to reassure you about the role of a Counsellor and the process of online couple counselling.
So, some good questions to ask yourselves before embarking on Online Couples Counselling are:
- Do you have a device on which to download zoom? This could be an iphone, ipad, laptop or android device.
- Do you have a private uniterrupted space at home, office or 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?
Remember, investment in your relationship ensures that together you are building a stronger, more resilient connection and increasing your wellbeing.