If you and your partner have been considering couples therapy, you’re in good company. Nearly all couples can stand to benefit from it, according to Mercedes Coffman, licensed marriage and family therapist in Burbank, California. “Couples therapy can help couples understand their relationship patterns, dysfunctional coping mechanisms, communication problems, and personality differences,” she tells Brides. “Unlike what most people assume, it is not just for those who are struggling with issues in their relationship.” But if you are going through a difficult time in your relationship, she says it can be especially useful.
Couples therapy can help couples understand their relationship patterns, dysfunctional coping mechanisms, communication problems, and personality differences.
While you can’t meet physically with a couples therapist during this time, you can schedule online couples therapy appointments, also known as teletherapy. As long as your therapist ensures that the sessions are confidential and that all precautions are taken for the patient’s protection, both video and home sessions can be just as effective as in-person sessions, according to Coffman. “Clients are provided tools and homework assignments to help them navigate through their process and, if done correctly, there should be no disruption to the client’s progress during this time,” she says.
If you and your partner decide to try online couples therapy, be it now or months or years down the line, here are some benefits you can expect to gain.
You have the home advantage.
Every therapist knows how helpful it can be for a client’s treatment when they perform a home visit, which takes place in the client’s home rather than the therapist’s office. “It gives us an opportunity to really get a deeper glimpse of what things are like in the household,” says Jacob Kountz, associate marriage and family therapist in Bakersfield, California. With teletherapy, you’re already home. “In their home environment, couples tend to show more transparency to their therapist.” This, he explains, is what therapists call a transfer of learning—applying what you’ve learned in your therapy sessions to your real life. With online couples therapy, this process is fast-tracked since clients are already present in the place where they will do most of their practice.
It gives you exposure to therapy without feeling exposed.
Maybe the thought of walking into a therapist’s office makes you uncomfortable. That’s OK! Online couple’s therapy removes this roadblock while still providing you with useful tactics to enhance your relationship. “I think it’s so beneficial for couples to see what’s behind the mystery of therapy,” says Kountz. “Exposing concerned couples to therapy through a screen is a great introduction to the therapeutic process.”
You learn how to communicate more effectively.
One of the most useful tools you’ll learn in couples therapy is how to understand your partner better and how to get your partner to understand you better. The best way to do this is through verbal communication, notes Kountz. “A lot of conflict is started when one party says, ‘You are so hurtful and mean!’ which makes the other party put up their defenses for protection,” he says. “A helpful remedy I often recommend is to practice replacing ‘you’ statements with ‘I’ statements, or telling the person how you are feeling instead of telling them how they are acting.”
You form a stronger emotional bond.
It’s not easy for most people to open up and feel vulnerable, even with their partner. But when the primary love or attachment bond is strong between partners, they are more capable of weathering storms together, according to Paulette Sherman, Psy.D., psychologist, and host of the podcast The Love Psychologist. “Methods like Emotionally Focused Therapy can teach couples to understand each other's attachment styles and triggers so they can better understand one another and see their negative cycles as the enemy and not one another,” she tells Brides. “Then, they can be vulnerable with each other and connect in safety rather than attacking each other and destroying their bond.”
You learn how to set boundaries.
Chances are, you’re not used to spending every waking second with your partner, but that’s likely become your reality given the stay-at-home orders. It can be easy to feel on the defense with your partner, who might be getting on your last nerve at this point. Online couples therapy can help ease the tension by teaching you how to set boundaries and maintain a healthy balance of unity and separateness. “Boundaries can help couples avoid codependency and maintain respect for each other and the relationship,” says Coffman.
It can prevent issues on the horizon.
Couples therapy does not only have to be for the purpose of helping you through issues in your relationship that you’re dealing with right now. It can provide you with the tools you need to prevent some of the common dysfunctional patterns in relationships months, years, and even decades down the line notes Coffman. “Couples learn how to compromise and how to avoid ever falling in dysfunctional relationship traps in the first place, which is one of the most useful tools of them all.”