Online couples therapy works when couples agree to meet with a therapist by email, through an instant messaging program, by responding to online questionnaires or by videoconferencing. Different types of therapy may be used, but psychotherapy is the most common approach to Internet-based couples counseling. Before engaging in an online couple’s therapy session, the couple and the therapist agree on a specific date and time for discussion using whichever medium they collectively choose.
Just like in-person therapy, focus and a commitment to fully engaging in therapy must be made for online couple’s therapy to be effective. During the course of online therapy, couples are typically asked to commit to a certain amount of online therapy sessions. Whether these sessions occur using a videoconferencing program or whether they occur via email, a qualified couples therapist will guide couples toward a deeper understanding and resolution of their individual conflicts.
Often, online couples therapy takes place via videoconferencing. Couples may be in the same room together or, using certain computer programs, may meet with a therapist online from separate locations. Eventually, this type of distance therapy can feel very much the same as in-person therapy sessions, as couples and their therapist are able to see one another face-to-face.
Some online couples therapy sessions work by using email. With this medium, a trained therapist typically guides couples through communication techniques and exercises. Emailed responses are reviewed, possible solutions explored and a therapist may even assign tasks for the couple to work on in an effort to improve the marriage. With this same principle, some websites also offer lengthy questionnaires designed to stimulate introspection and communication in couples that are struggling within their marriages. These types of online couples therapy can take several weeks or months to complete.
Using written text in real-time, couples can also chat with a therapist online. Some therapists use special software on their websites to support this type of online couples therapy. Others use more mainstream instant messaging programs. The basic idea is to use live chat to discuss marital issues in the hopes that a marriage counselor can help the couple improve their relationship.
Sometimes referred to as distance therapy, online couples therapy may combine multiple therapeutic modalities. The most common is talk therapy, which often focuses on cognitive behavioral therapy in order to help couples correct behaviors that are having a negative effect on their marriage. Just as in-person meetings, couples are expected to be forthcoming during their online couples therapy sessions and commit to the process of healing the marriage if at all possible.