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If you and your partner are considering marriage counseling services, it doesn’t mean you’re at the end of your relationship rope. Marriage counseling can be beneficial for every, single couple, according to experts.
“The best candidates for marriage counseling are committed couples who love each other, and who are motivated to have the best relationship possible,” explains Lisa Marie Bobby, Ph.D., L.M.F.T., dating coach, founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling & Coaching, author of Exaholics and host of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.
Whether it’s in-person or online, marriage counseling involves delving deep into the foundation of the relationship to unearth certain issues that may be plaguing a couple and preventing them from moving forward in a healthy way. The goal of good marriage counseling, according to Dr. Bobby, is for each partner to feel more emotionally connected, have their needs met by their partner, improved communication, and work as a team in their shared life together.
One of the biggest factors that prevents couples from seeking therapy is the lack of time in their schedules to fit in weekly or monthly appointments. This is especially true for parents who also have to balance their kids’ schedules and may not have access to childcare during non-work hours. This is where online couples therapy really comes in handy.
Luckily, there are a plethora of online marriage counseling services that can be just as effective as in-person sessions. Couples are provided with the same tools and homework assignments to help them navigate through the process, explains Mercedes Coffman, licensed marriage and family therapist in Burbank, California.
With so many options available, it can be tough to know which one is right for you and your partner. Here’s a close look at some of the top contenders for online marriage counseling and what you can expect once you sign up.
The 7 Best Online Marriage Counseling Programs of 2020
Best Overall: Relationship Hero
They don’t say “the first year of marriage is the hardest” for nothing. For many, if not most couples, it is not all smooth sailing in the beginning.
Even if you’ve already lived together, adjusting to married life can be challenging. So, it’s no surprise that you might find yourselves considering marriage counseling services—and Relationship Hero is a great place to start.
Relationship Hero caters to solely couples therapy and prompts you to choose your reason for seeking help from the very onset of visiting its site. Not sure? Simply choose “other,” and you will be taken to another page where you and your partner will be connected with a support person to further discuss your concerns and find a coach best-suited for your situation.
Some of the perks include access to a coach 24/7—no appointment necessary—as well as a secure and easy-to-use platform through which to communicate. The cost of the membership is affordable, at around $1 per minute, and is based on how long you spend with your coach. Relationship Hero, however, does not take insurance.
Best for Busy Couples: Regain
If you and your partner can’t seem to nail down a day, or even a few hours during which you can both focus your attention on couples therapy, Regain can help with that.
With Regain, you and your partner will fill out questionnaires before being matched to a therapist. You'll be asked to choose what issue you're looking to discuss, such as improving communication, intimacy issues, adultery, overcoming conflict or preventing separation or divorce.
The online service offers both individual and couples therapy sessions via live chat, phone, and video sessions. Regain adapts to whatever works best with you and your partner's schedule and the time you have available. This helps ensure that you both can commit to some form of consistency, which is paramount for the success of couples therapy.
Regain offers varying tiers of membership, ranging from about $40 to $70, based on the type of couples therapy that you choose. However, they don’t work with insurance companies, so the cost is 100% out of pocket.
Best for Engaged Couples: Growing Self
Many couples opt to do premarital counseling ahead of saying “I do,” and experts attest to its benefits. “Most couples who partake in premarital counseling have a higher chance of succeeding in their marriage,” notes premarital counselor Rachel Lamson.
One great service that caters to premarital counseling in addition to marriage counseling and general couples therapy is Growing Self, which is based in Denver, Colorado, but they also offer online services as well.
You and your partner can choose the qualifications of your clinician, as each level of specialization comes with a different price. The cost of a doctor-level clinician is around $150, while it costs about $120 for an advanced clinician. For approximately $105, couples can work with a master’s level clinician.
Growing Self also has earlier career clinicians with very affordable, income-based sliding-scale rates, with some starting as low as approximately $55 per session, and work with some insurance companies. If you're trying to simultaneously budget for their wedding and go into counseling, these low rates certainly come in handy.
You can choose to have a free consultation via their website.
Best for LGBTQ+ Couples: Pride Counseling
Pride Counseling is a supportive community catered to the LGBTQ+ community that is affordable and accepting of everyone.
Before filling out a questionnaire, the site asks you to choose your gender online, which many clients appreciate as an alternative to talking about their preferences during their actual therapy sessions.
Refreshingly enough, they offer eight identification options, including male, female, transgender: female to male, transgender: male to female, and non-binary.
The service offers support from licensed psychologists, clinical social workers, or licensed professional counselors, who specialize in relationships, among other mental health issues. All counselors have experience with the LGBTQ+ community, which is beneficial especially if you're seeking help for your relationship.
The cost of sessions ranges from around $40 to $70, and you can cancel your membership at any time for any reason.
Best for Unlimited Messaging: Talkspace
If you and your partner aren’t hung up on the idea of having a face-to-face session with a therapist, but prefer the ability to reach out to a professional anytime, then Talkspace is for you. The company offers all sorts of therapy services, with couples therapy being one of them.
The sign-up process is easy: Enter your information, and you’ll be matched with several therapists that you can choose between. You can also select how you want to communicate, either via text, audio or video messaging. The main perk of the service is that you can score quick responses to your inquiries and feedback on-the-go, via their app.
While it’s not touted as the most personal and intimate of therapy options, it may be best for couples who don’t want to limit themselves to once-weekly or once-a-month sessions. The service isn't cheap, however, since it starts at around $99 per week, but it is covered by a number of U.S. health plans.
Best for Long-Time Couples: Couples Therapy Inc.
If you and your spouse have been around the block in terms of your time together, you might be looking for something a bit more all-encompassing. Through Couples Therapy Inc. you will be matched with a therapist who is tasked with finding out what you and your partner are each doing that helps or hinders your communication process.
“Our experience at Couples Therapy Inc. is that many marriages who have not found help with a weekly generalist have turned their marriages around with a science-based specialist over an intensive weekend,” says Kathy McMahon, a psychologist and president of Couples Therapy Inc.
To get started, you and your partner will be provided with a detailed questionnaire, and you’ll receive follow-up feedback thereafter. You'll spend around two hours with your therapist, so that they can get to know you better. The cost for this is not cheap, with appointments ranging from around $500 to $950.
If you don't have time for weekly marriage counseling, Couples Therapy Inc. offers weekend couples retreats that allow you to get a more immersive experience. There, you and your partner can take the time and space to really understand what's wrong and practice changing it.
Your therapist can submit a claim to your insurance company for payment, however, Couples Therapy Inc. explains on its website that most will not cover the cost.
Best for Military Couples: E-Therapy Cafe
If you and/or your partner are in the military, it brings a new set of challenges to a marriage. There’s a strong grief of separation that partners deal with, and the time apart can bring about a great deal of frustration.
One byproduct is miscommunication, as these couples do not have the luxury of seeing each other frequently to resolve long-standing issues.
E-Therapy Cafe provides all sorts of couples therapy, but caters specifically to individuals and families in the military, which many do not. All seven therapists are board-certified and are willing to chat on a short- or long-term basis. They have extensive training in trauma and military combat issues and can help those dealing with stress, anxiety and isolation.
You and your partner can try an online session for around $25, and all additional sessions cost about $50. Students, veterans and first responders receive a discount if the use E-Therapy Cafe.
How We Chose The Best Online Marriage Counseling Programs
To select our top picks for the best online marriage counseling programs, we reached out to some of the top experts in the field of psychology, specifically licensed marriage and family therapists. We inquired about the most desired qualities in a counseling service, as well as the offerings that were most suitable for a couple during a particular phase of their relationship. We also looked at factors including affordability and price, as well as whether or not a company qualified for insurance.