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In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many therapists and counselors have moved their services online to continue offering safe and affordable treatment via the internet.
Whether you’re exploring online therapy for the first time, or you regularly visit a therapist, online relationship therapy can be a useful tool — and there are a plethora of resources to choose from.
Here’s what you need to know about online relationship therapy, from how it works to its many benefits.
“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.”
People who want to work on their relationships are matched with a dedicated coach, while the site provides 24/7 online support.
The service costs around $1 per minute to speak to a trained relationship coach, who can help with marriage issues, infidelity, relationship troubles, and breakups.
While the site’s coaches aren’t all licensed therapists, they’ve each been through a rigorous training program. The ease and flexibility with which users can engage with the site and be matched with coaches makes Relationship Hero an accessible option.
This platform was founded by Alison LaSov, a licensed marriage and family therapist, with the aim of matching individuals with therapists based on their personal style and specific needs.
Advekit provides users with options, all of which vary in cost. According to the site, the average cost of a 45- to 60-minute session can range from $60 to $120, although some therapists may charge up to $250.
Some therapists on the site accept insurance. When they do, you only pay what you owe, and you don’t need to wait for reimbursement.
Advekit uses its own algorithm to match up patients with therapists, which could take some stress out of searching for the perfect practitioner.
By providing access to licensed therapists via the internet, ReGain allows people to work on their relationships at their own pace, at a convenient time, and from a location that suits them.
You can use a computer, tablet, or smartphone to access all sessions on ReGain.
The service costs approximately $60 to $90 per week, which is billed monthly via PayPal or credit card and can be canceled at any time.
This popular destination for online therapy has more than 1 million users.
Patients can message their therapists 24/7, and the site’s dedicated online couples counseling section offers support through live video sessions and unlimited messaging, as well as the chance to “develop a solutions-oriented approach to rediscover your relationship’s strengths,” according to the company.
Talkspace is a subscription service with plans starting at $99 per week.
This team of over two dozen clinicians practicing in 30 U.S. states and 4 countries has an exclusive focus on relationship therapy.
Relationship coaching, counseling, and therapy range between $119 and $199 for a 55-minute session. The site also offers specialist services, including affair recovery, premarital counseling, and a sexuality retreat.
Bound Together offers client-centered affirming and inclusive counseling services for adolescents, adults and couples from an empowering, sex-positive, feminist perspective.
Stefani Goerlich, LMSW, is a licensed sex therapist, and is qualified to discuss every aspect of relationship and intimacy. While insurance is possible pending a diagnosis, Bound Together Counseling generally offers patients a private pay model, which allows for full confidentiality.
This platform was cofounded by Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, a licensed clinical professional counselor, with his wife, Rivka.
The site offers a 2-Day Marriage Restoration Retreat program, which is followed by eight online couples therapy sessions, lasting 90 minutes each.
“As the world has still not fully left the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a continued need for online therapy. Many have realized how convenient yet effective it can be as well,” explains co-founder Slatkin.
Most clients are eligible to file for reimbursement from their insurance company.
Relationship counseling is one of the services offered through this online therapy for the LGBTQIA+ community. All of Pride Counseling’s professionals specialize in LGBTQIA+ concerns and are licensed therapists, psychologists, counselors, or social workers.
It costs between $60 and $90 per week to use, which is billed monthly and can be canceled at any time, although the site notes that most of its services are not billable to insurance.
As the website explains, “Whether you are here for mental health issues, LGBTQ issues, or just need someone to talk to, all of our counselors are here to listen.”
This site offers a range of services, including premarital, marriage, and parenting counseling, online couples therapy, and dating coaching.
Patients can choose from 45-minute sessions with early-career therapists and coaches (prices ranging between $55 and $95) to doctoral level experts (between $150 and $250).
Like any form of therapy, if you’re prepared to put in the work, each session can make a difference in your relationship, and whatever 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 might doubt the efficacy of online therapy over in-person treatments, 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 therapies 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.”
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.
“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.
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 of benefit 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.