How do we prepare for an online couples therapy session?
Deciding to get the help of a relationship therapist face to face or online can feel like a big decision, one that sometimes takes a long time to make. Preparing for your first online couples therapy session could be the difference between a positive or negative experience of online therapy.
These days couples seek out professional relationship therapists for all types of reasons and not just because there is a breakdown in their relationship. They are often looking for support, guidance and direction on how best to address concerns and worries relating to health, family and lifestyle. Unfortunately, many couples wait too long to seek professional help and support so it can take time to work backwards through any difficulties they are experiencing. Some couples seek out therapy to re-couple or de-couple effectively following a relationship breakdown.
Now that many Psychotherapists and Relationship Counsellors are available online it will make accessing couples therapy a more viable and realistic option. Online therapy is convenient, efficient and has many different types of benefits compared with traditional face to face therapy particularly for couples who have hectic schedules, live apart or who have childcare restrictions. There are also differences between online therapy and traditional face to face therapy – but different does not mean less effective so it helps to be prepared. Book your first online couples therapy appointment here.
Getting the most out of your first online couples therapy session together is important. For many couples it will also be the first-time meeting with their relationship therapist and understanding how therapy works. Hopefully, you will have been able to find the right relationship counsellor for you both.
Online therapy is convenient, efficient and has many different types of benefits compared with traditional face to face therapy particularly for couples who have hectic schedules, live apart or who have childcare restrictions.
Here are some simple tips to help you both be prepared and ready for your first online couples therapy session.
Timing. Book appointment times that suit you both which will ensure you are not stressed starting the appointment or interrupted by anything or anyone. I ask my couples to sit down for 5 or 10 minutes before their session starts to check-in with each other and talk about they what would like to bring up in therapy.
Comfort. Decide on a comfortable space to do your session, ideally this will be a quiet bright room where you can both sit side by side together facing your online therapist. I notice couples work best when sitting together on the couch or at a kitchen table close to their device. Relax and settle yourselves ahead of your session, make each other a cup of coffee and settle down.
Privacy. Being comfortable and relaxed will help you both to open-up and talk honestly about how you are feeling, this is at the core of effective couple’s therapy. Reduce the risk of interruptions from family or children so that you can talk comfortably.
Device. Ideally do your online sessions on a laptop, PC or larger size tablet which has a good camera and audio. This means your therapist will be able to see and hear you both clearly all through the session. A phone is not ideal for regular ongoing therapy sessions as it is difficult for the therapist to see you both.
Internet Connection. Make sure you have a good strong internet signal on your device. Turn off the wi-fi on your phones and anything else that may reduce internet connection for the duration of your session. Closedown all applications, notifications and any other software that may interrupt you both. A poor-quality signal may mean the session will have to end abruptly.
Lighting. Good quality lighting means that your therapist will be able to see you both well. Verbal communication is only a small percentage of actual communication, so they need to be able to see you both clearly. Turn on an overhead light or have a table light close by.
Preparation. Its always a great idea to be mentally prepared for your therapy sessions. Write down notes, thoughts or questions that you would like to raise in the session. Its helpful for couples to talk together ahead of appointments and agree on specific topics or problems. It does not matter if you do not agree on what you want to discuss as both opinions are important.
Mindset. Online couples therapy is best suited to couples who are focused on finding solutions and some common ground to deal with their relationship problems and concerns. It is not ideal for couples who are in a high conflict or distressed state unless you have agreed with the therapist in advance that online therapy is a suitable intervention. Being in a high conflict state means that one or both partners are very emotive and will be unable to listen, talk or empathise effectively with each other or their therapist.
Communication. Both individuals need to be able to express themselves, respect each other while talking and engage in active listening. Criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling during sessions will make online therapy sessions completely ineffective. Make a decision to try work together for the duration of your online couple’s therapy session even if you both have different feelings, opinions and agendas.
Expectations. It takes time for the couple’s therapy process to develop. The first few sessions will be focusing on assessing the problems and factors which are affecting the relationship. With sessions often limited to one hour at a time, it may take several sessions before you feel any intervention or progress is being made. Committing to at least six couples therapy sessions together will give you a good idea of how beneficial they are for you both, bearing in mind that relationship counselling is often a medium to longer term process over months.
Follow the instructions provided by your therapist well in advance of your session to start your online therapy sessions. Depending on the software they use, you may need to download software, create an account or profile. I use DOXY.ME which means my clients just need to click on a secure link to access the virtual therapy room.
Can we do online couples therapy sessions in different locations?
Yes. Online couples therapy sessions can be done from the same location or separate locations depending on your relationship counsellor. If you are in different locations, both individuals will log into the virtual therapy room at the time the appointment starts and a group call will commence together. This type of therapy group call can take some time to get use to but will be suitable for couples residing in different locations or countries.