Online Couples Therapy

Online Couples Therapy 101

Changing Your Relationship at Home

Couples therapy is an undertaking. It requires preparation, focus, privacy and a willingness to be vulnerable. Whether you're considering online couples therapy or you're transitioning to online couples therapy, it's helpful to know how to set up for success. In this blog, we explore the ins & outs of online couples therapy.

Listen to this blog:

Read this blog about preparing for online counselling

Photo by Prostooleh on Unsplash

Preparing for Online Couples Therapy

Get Prepped

Treat your online couples counselling session with the same seriousness that you would if you were meeting in person.
  • If you and your partner are living separately, make sure you're in the same physical location for your therapy session. This is crucial for reading facial expressions and body language. If you have to join separately, remember that you're going to miss these important cues.
  • Mute electronic notifications and turn your phone to airplane mode or OFF.
  • Don't multitask during your couples counselling session. Set activities aside to be present during online couples therapy.
  • If you want to have a coffee, tea or water during session, prepare this ahead of time. This way it doesn't cut into your session time.
  • Have a notebook or notepad ready to take notes.
  • Make sure you have any "homework" worksheets nearby in case you need to refer to them.
  • Let others in the home know that you and your partner are unavailable during your session.
  • Set aside an additional 20-30 minutes after your session to transition back into your day. This can be crucial as you can't always predict what might come up in therapy.

These quick tips can help you get the most of your online session. It also shows your commitment to the process.


Setting the Stage

Online couples counselling is still therapy. When you can show up authentically and prepared to do the work, your therapy experience is enhanced.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and choose an appropriate location in your home for your counselling session.
  • A well-lit space without back-lighting will help your therapist see your body language and facial expressions easier.
  • Sitting close to the computer or laptop will provide the best audio and video quality.

Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash

How Strong is Your Connection?

To maximize your online couples session, free up your internet bandwidth. This might require that others download videos ahead of time or plan an offline activity. Have your online couples therapy session in an area of the home with a strong internet signal. If it's possible, use a device that can be hardwired to your modem. An example would be a laptop or computer. If you're using a laptop, make sure the battery is fully charged.

Will It Be Weird?

In my experience, online couples therapy is very similar to in-person therapy. If you feel nervous or anxious before in-person counselling, you might actually feel more comfortable at home. If you have any concerns about online couples therapy, talk to your counsellor so that you can address concerns together.

(Psst! Get your FREE couples resource list here.)

Practicing Privacy at Home

You might have a houseful of family members, pets, housemates or roommates. Here are some privacy tips for online couples therapy:

  • If it's feasible, wear headphones to ensure more privacy.
  • Have your session in a room with a locked door. If only yourself and your partner are home, find a well-lit room and a comfortable seat.
  • Consider having your couples therapy session during nap time or bed time for the kids.
  • You can muffle sound by placing a towel along the bottom of the door. Turning on a white noise machine, tv or radio outside the room can also obscure sound for privacy.

Click here to learn more about couples therapy

Online Couples Therapy FAQ

How Long Does Couples Therapy Take?

Most couples can experience increased relationship satisfaction after 15-20 therapy sessions. Some couples like to meet for maintenance sessions after graduating from therapy. In short, the amount of time varies. Plan for at least 10 sessions to try out couples therapy. Keep in mind that you can experience significant change in about 15 to 20 sessions.

How Often Should We Meet?

In the initial stages, meeting weekly can help to get foundational information and complete individual sessions. Meeting less frequently means that change will happen more slowly over time. You can also forget the lessons and exercises you learn. After our initial 3 sessions, meeting every 2 weeks can give you time to practice learning objectives.

What Can I Expect in Online Couples Therapy?

Couples therapy is not a place to air dirty laundry or sling insults at one another with an audience. We will likely discuss difficult topics like money, sex, parenting, porn and in-laws. And emotions might arise, and arguments might begin. The purpose of couples therapy as I practice it, is to learn how to break free from unhelpful patterns. This can help you get back in touch with what you love in one another.

How Does the Gottman Method Work Online?

In online couples therapy, we explore the same topics as in-person therapy. I encourage you to talk to one another rather than reporting to me about your relationship. Conversation happens online, and change happens offline. You can expect to receive worksheets, activities and exercises to practice between sessions.

Will We Break Up if We Do Online Couples Therapy?

We opt in to relationships and we can also opt out of relationships. The goal of online couples therapy is not to break you apart, unless your goal is to end amicably with support. If you want to transform your relationship into what it used to be, or into something new and great, we will get there together. You steer the boat, I help with navigation.

Final Thoughts

Online couples therapy can free you from the headache of traffic, finding parking, and arranging child and/or pet-care. Having intimate and vulnerable conversations with your partner at home plants the seeds of change in your natural environment.

Please note: Online couples therapy isn't suitable for all couples. Contact me to determine if online couples therapy is a good option for you.

Suggested readings:

Curious about virtual counselling?

Schedule your first counselling session today.