Online relationship therapy can be a useful tool. Your best couples therapy option may depend on price, insurance coverage, or specializations such as affair recovery, sex therapy, and LGBTQIA+ or military and veteran concerns.
As we searched for the best online couples therapy programs, we kept a few key factors in mind:
Specialization: No two couples are alike, and that means your therapy sessions won’t be alike, either. We included programs and platforms focusing on topics such as LGBTQIA+ partners, sex counseling, and affair recovery.
Credentials: We looked for websites that employ professional licensed therapists, counselors, or psychiatrists.
Price: Therapy isn’t always expensive. We included multiple websites that accept insurance and others with affordable self-pay options.
Lastly, we recommend only companies we stand behind as being credible and ethical. Healthline’s brand and content integrity team ensures that every product, app, and service included in our content meets our medical and business standards. You can read more about our vetting process here.
A note on price
The services mentioned in this article have prices that will vary depending on your location, your insurance, and the subscription plan or therapist you choose. Some services offer weekly or monthly subscriptions, while others charge per session.
“Online couples therapy is the ability to work on your relationship through an online platform such as Zoom instead of coming to the physical office,” says Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, a licensed clinical professional counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist.
Simply put, this online therapy or counseling takes place over the internet with a licensed therapist or counselor, allowing people to explore the many facets of their relationship, usually via video chat.
“Like individual therapy, you and your partner(s) will talk to your therapist about the challenges that you are facing both as individuals (such as anxiety, substance use, or depression) and together (topics like differences in desire, communication challenges, and infidelity),” explains Stefani Goerlich, LMSW, of Bound Together Counseling and a member of The World Professional Association for Transgender Health.
While the pandemic has popularized online therapy, it does have many benefits. “Online couples therapy can help romantic interpersonal relationships,” says Sam Nabil, CEO and lead therapist for Naya Clinics. “It is typically relatively inexpensive, accessible, and flexible compared to in-person sessions.”
We recommend keeping these considerations in mind as you look for an online therapy platform:
Therapy method: Some websites offer a messaging feature, live video calls, and phone calls. Others offer only one or two of these methods. When choosing a platform, consider which method fits your lifestyle and preferences.
Specialization: Before selecting a therapist, speak with your partner about what the two of you want to talk about to make sure you’re on the same page. Couples who want to work on their relationship in general may be able to choose any therapist. But those looking for help with something specific, such as infidelity or premarital counseling, may need a specialized professional.
Scheduling: When are you available for video or phone sessions? Make sure the platform offers options that fit into your schedule. Busy couples may prefer a self-paced learning resource or a chat feature with a therapist.
During the first few sessions of couples therapy, you can expect to talk with your therapist about overarching issues and goals you have personally and as a couple. You’ll likely talk about what’s working in your relationship and what you’re working to manage. You’ll also share your relationship history so your therapist gets a sense of your dynamic.
After this initial period, you can expect to go deeper into the issues for you or your relationship. Your therapist may suggest exercises or “homework” you can do either individually or together between sessions. If needed, your therapist may even suggest one-on-one sessions for one or both of you.
Your therapist won’t take sides in your disputes or disagreements and will ideally challenge any limited beliefs you have about yourself or your relationship. They can also help you see different perspectives and encourage new ways you can effectively communicate with one another.
As with any form of therapy, if you’re prepared to put in the work, each session can make a difference in your relationship and any issues you want to work on.
“Couples counseling is only as effective as the least invested partner,” Goerlich says. “Getting on the same page in this way is crucial to your success.”
While some people might doubt the effectiveness of online therapy over in-person sessions, Slatkin says, “Even if the therapist is on the screen, it does not take away from the vital work that can be done. While some do prefer to be in person, we have seen just as beneficial results working online.”
In fact, one 2014 study found that online therapy sessions for depression were just as effective as in-person therapy sessions.
Above all, though, commitment to the process is key, and partners need to be all in.
As Nabil explains, “Online couples therapy can be beneficial if you commit to finding a service that meets your needs. The key is to find the right therapist and to commit to the scheduled sessions.”
What are the benefits of online couples therapy?
Each person will likely have a set of topics they want to discuss or issues they want to work through during their sessions.
As Goerlich says, “I’ve noticed that some folks find it easier to say something difficult or bring up a challenging topic if they’re talking to a therapist, rather than directly to their partner. Having a neutral third person to help facilitate hard conversations can be a wonderful resource for any couple struggling to get on the same page.”
Slatkin notes some of the practicalities that make online couples therapy beneficial: “Parents of children who don’t have child care, especially during the pandemic, or do not have local competent professionals now have the opportunity to work with the best clinicians out there. It is convenient, saves commuter time and the associated stress, and can be more relaxing of an atmosphere.”
“Online couples therapy is convenient, you can do it from the comfort of your home, you can join from separate devices in separate locations, and both partners are engaging to learn and grow together,” adds licensed psychologist Donna T. Novak, PsyD.
How do you know if you can benefit from online couples therapy?
“Don’t assume that your relationship has to be bad in order to benefit from therapy,” says Goerlich. “I work with lots of couples who want to focus on a goal like improving communication, co-parenting effectively, and improving their sex lives. If you feel as if your relationship could be stronger, you’re a candidate for therapy.”
Anyone can benefit from online couples therapy or counseling, as sessions allow people to explore their relationships in more depth and focus on sustaining their partnerships.
Goerlich continues, “Whether it’s maintenance therapy or whether you need to engage in some difficult relationship repair work, I encourage everyone to find a local provider offering online therapy and get started today.”
As already noted, partners need to be committed to undertaking online couples therapy for the process to have any chance of success.
“If you’re considering online couples therapy, consider how much you are able to hold yourself accountable and responsible for your actions alongside your partner doing the same,” Novak says.
What’s the difference between couples counseling and couples therapy?
Typically, relationship counseling focuses more on present-day problems affecting your relationship. Counseling usually does not go as deeply into previous relationships, past arguments, or trauma as therapy does.
Therapists tend to help clients work through more complex, long-term issues than counselors do.
Is marriage counseling covered by insurance?
Some of these online counseling companies will work with your insurance provider, but your insurance coverage will depend on your individual plan.
In many cases, mental health care requires an official diagnosis to be covered under an insurance plan. Not all therapists or clients may want to label problems addressed during couples counseling, so most of these companies offer sliding-scale pricing that they claim is in line with insurance copayments.
How do I find a virtual couples therapist?
Most services offer an online consultation or tools to help you find the right therapist for your needs. Services may ask you to take a quiz about the problems you’re hoping to address or the outcomes you’re looking for from counseling.
Each of these services also offers live support to help you find a therapist or schedule a consultation.
What can I do instead of couples therapy?
Some of these services offer self-help or self-guided resources if you and your partner do not want to participate in live or telehealth counseling.
You can also take steps on your own to improve your relationship, such as:
prioritizing your relationship before other obligations
scheduling date nights
making time to catch up and talk
reading a relationships book together
planning a vacation
discussing the positives — not just the negatives — of your relationship
If you’re invested in making your relationship work, online therapy might be the right choice for you. With remote options growing in popularity, it’s possible to undertake therapy or counseling from your own home, which is particularly beneficial if privacy is key.
With a sliding price scale and a variety of websites offering relationship therapy and counseling, it’s never been easier to find the support you and your relationship need.
Amy Mackelden is the weekend editor at Harper’s Bazaar, and her bylines include Nicki Swift, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Elle, The Independent, Bustle, xoJane, and HelloGiggles. She’s written about health for MS Society, MS Trust, The Checkup, The Paper Gown, Folks, HelloFlo, Greatist, and Byrdie. She has an unhealthy love for the “Saw” movies and previously spent all of her money on Kylie Cosmetics. Find her on Instagram.
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