Ours Online Couples Counseling Review

Ours is a virtual couples counseling program with live and self-guided sessions.

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Ours Online Therapy

Ours Online Therapy

Ours provides an inclusive, secular, structured way for couples to connect more deeply and build relationship skills over the course of several weeks. Though it’s designed primarily as premarital counseling, the program can help couples at any stage of their relationship. However, it’s not couples therapy—it’s a set program with a mix of live sessions with a coach and self-guided activities—so it’s likely not a fit for couples who need to work through serious issues.

Key Facts

  • Price: $400 upfront for 6 sessions
  • Is Insurance Accepted?: No
  • Type Of Therapy: Couples Therapy
  • Communication Options: Messaging, Video Chat
  • HIPAA Compliant?: N/A
  • Is There an App?: No

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Website is well-designed and easy to navigate 
  • Program is structured and finite 
  • Can complete self-guided sessions on your own time
  • Secular and inclusive 
  • Guides are credentialed mental health professionals
  • Straightforward pricing options

Cons

  • Not a replacement for couples therapy
  • Not covered by insurance
  • Limited number of live sessions
  • You don’t choose your guide
  • No ongoing options offered
  • Not useful for serious relationship issues

While many couples want to attend premarital counseling or couples counseling, not all couples are actually able to, either because of the cost, the time commitment it requires, or the lack of therapists nearby offering sessions. In fact, according to the Gottman Institute, only 19% of couples seek out some form of couples therapy—and some of them only did so after six years of relationship issues.

Ours seeks to make it easier for couples to access meaningful relationship counseling by offering a virtual, partially self-guided program that participants can largely do at home, on their own time. Recognizing that this may be a more convenient and appealing option for busy people, we surveyed 105 users of Ours about their experiences. My partner and I also signed up ourselves to test its services.

What Is Ours?

Ours is an online couples counseling program that aims to help people live happier, healthier lives through stronger relationships. The program, which is explicitly not therapy and is largely self-guided, was launched in May 2022 by co-founders Adam Putterman, a former consultant; Jessica Holton, who has a background in business and banking; and Elizabeth Earnshaw, a licensed marriage and family therapist and author of I Want This to Work: An Inclusive Guide to Navigating the Most Difficult Relationship Issues We Face in the Modern Age

The founders worked with a team of therapists and engineers to develop a proprietary software, which they call “Loveware,”  that includes a mix of recorded videos, interactive exercises, and discussion prompts. According to the company’s website, the team developed the program after interviewing thousands of couples and reviewing relevant research.  

As of November 2022, the Ours team is still fairly small, with fewer than 20 employees listed on its website, including the mental health professionals they refer to as guides. 

What Services Does Ours Offer?

Ours is a structured program with a set number of sessions: two live sessions with a relationship coach and four self-guided. 

Both live video sessions are conducted via Zoom. The first is a 45-minute welcome call consisting of a casual conversation between the guide and the couple. Once you’ve completed all the self-guided sessions, you schedule a 30-minute wrap-up call with your guide.

The course is designed to be completed over four weeks and it can be used as either premarital counseling or as a way for couples to reconnect and build relationships skills at any stage in their lives.

Who Is Ours For?

Ours states that it’s best for couples who:

  • Are confident about their commitment to each other
  • Are looking to be proactive about their relationship
  • Have a safe and healthy relationship

While it emphasizes the benefits of using its program as premarital counseling, it states that it’s for every kind of couple, “whether married, engaged, dating, or "it's complicated.” 

I used it with my husband (we’ve been married for several years), and found it was still beneficial. It would be especially good for couples who feel averse to more traditional or religious offerings, as it’s explicitly secular and inclusive. It’s also good for those who feel crunched for time and prioritize flexibility with scheduling (since much of it is self-guided and could be done at odd hours, or broken up into small chunks of time).

Ours is explicit about not being a good fit for those who are doubting their commitment or feel that their relationships are deeply troubled. 

How Much Does Ours Cost?

The Ours program costs $400. Given the number of hours it takes to complete the program (about six), the per-hour cost could be lower than other, similar online couples therapy options. Many traditional, in-person counseling services can run from $100 to $225 per hour, while online therapy costs range, with some offering subscription models from $240 to $400 per month, and others offering live video sessions for up to $195 per hour. 

You can also give Ours to someone else, such as for a wedding gift. If purchased as a gift, it includes one additional option that’s not available when purchasing the program for yourself: a $100 “mini experience” of one live session with a guide and one self-guided session.

Does Ours Take Insurance?

Ours does not accept insurance. This could make it prohibitively expensive for couples who lack the additional funds (including engaged couples already funding their own weddings or honeymoons), but could make it more accessible for those who are not insured or who don’t wish to engage with their health insurance companies.

It is worth noting, though, that most insurance providers do not cover couples therapy or premarital counseling. So the fact that Ours doesn’t accept insurance doesn’t put it at a disadvantage compared to other notable competitors, such as ReGain. 

Does Ours Offer Discounts?

As of November 2022, you can try one live session and one self-guided session for $50, then pay the remaining $450 if you’d like to continue. If you chose to continue, this would make the total cost $500 ($100 more than if you’d paid in full upfront).

In the FAQ on the company’s homepage, it says that if you can’t afford Ours right now to email to see what they can do. When we tried this, Ours asked us to contact a customer care representative directly. In her response, she asked how we found out about Ours, then offered $100 off the program.

Navigating The Ours Website 

The Ours website and app are some of its strongest features. Both are sleek, well-designed, and colorful, making the company seem more friendly and playful than clinical. As soon as you open the homepage, you see clear information about what topics Ours covers, how long the program is, and how much it costs. 

Ours1

There’s also a video image of a young, happy-looking, interracial couple huddling together near a laptop in their home, giving a sense of the type of people Ours aims to reach. The woman is casually dressed and clutches a coffee mug, which aligns with how they say to prepare for their sessions (in the email our guide sent us before our sessions, she said, “Pets, comfy clothes and a beverage of your choice are more than welcome to attend.”). 

Along the top menu is an About page where you can learn about its founders and team, a link to a research study the team conducted (they surveyed 539 people aged 26 to 40 about their relationship habits and views on couples counseling), a blog with posts about the company and some advice for weddings, a program overview with detailed info about what to expect, and a button to get started.

Ours2urs2

As you scroll down the homepage, you see more detailed information about how the program works, along with user testimonials; a comparison table showing how Ours differs from traditional premarital counseling; info about the guides, including photos and professional credentials; and an FAQ section that covers topics such as what’s covered in the sessions and whether or not you can add the Ours program to your wedding registry. There are several more buttons to “get started” peppered throughout the page, a link to “gift to another,” some blog posts, and a field to sign up for a newsletter. 

At the bottom of the page are links to terms of use, the privacy policy, a therapist network for mental health professionals, a contact button that prompts you to email the company, and a careers page.

Ours3

Overall, I found the Ours website fairly easy to use. Of the users we surveyed, 48% felt the same (saying it was easy to navigate), while 48% felt neutral about it. Only 5% found it difficult. 

Ours is fairly active on social media, with Instagram and Twitter accounts that are both updated several times per week. It does not appear to have a Facebook page. At the bottom of its website, it links out not to its own TikTok account but that of one of its founders, Elizabeth Earnshaw.

Does Ours Have An App?

Ours has a web-based app, Loveware, which is a proprietary software app.  

Once you log into it, you can view your personal dashboard, which includes your “personal roadmap” (which is essentially just a list of the sessions available to you). You can also access each of the sessions, replay any sessions you’ve already completed, schedule video calls with your guide, and download various resources in PDF form, like a  “Stress & Regulation Toolkit” and a “Card Deck” of conversation starters to ask your partner. There’s a button to message your guide, but it just prompts you to send an email. 

Finally, there’s a section that you can use to engage in a short exercise at any time, such as journaling about a favorite memory with your partner, talking with your partner about how you’ve changed, or doing a drawing exercise.

How Do You Sign Up for Counseling at Ours?

The sign-up process at Ours is short and easy, taking about 10 minutes in total. It begins by asking your name and email address (when I left the process incomplete, I was emailed a prompt shortly after, nudging me to continue signing up). 

After that, you’re prompted to answer a few questions, such as your favorite thing about your relationship, and confirm that you understand the pricing model and that it’s not a replacement for clinical therapy.

After paying (either via credit or debit card or with Google pay), you’re given a survey with 16 questions asking you to rate various aspects of your relationship quality on a scale of one to five. 

Questions include things like, “We effectively manage our finances together,” and “I know how to effectively voice my needs in the relationship.” (Admittedly, I found some of these questions hard to put a number on, wishing I could add a bunch of caveats like, “I’m a two before coffee, but a five after,” or “Does it count as effectively voicing needs if I’m also yelling and crying?”)

Notably, none of the questions ask about the mental health conditions, history, or medications of participants. This could mean that some couples are going into their sessions without adequate awareness of their own and each others’ mental states. For instance, if one person is unaware that they are clinically depressed (or unaware that their partner is), that might make it very difficult to work through the exercises.

Still, as a person who hates logistically difficult tasks, I appreciated that the process was straightforward and fairly transparent overall, with a clean interface and easy-to-understand language throughout.

Matching With a Therapist

You do not get to choose your Ours guide. In the FAQ, the company says that it matches you based on “your requirements, their in-house data, and good old-fashioned intuition,” but that if you have any non-negotiables (e.g., experience with long-distance couples, a particular ethnic background), then they’ll accommodate you.

You’ll be matched with your guide shortly after signing up. The guides have various credentials, such as:

  • Licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT): A professional credential with requirements that vary by state; these generally include having completed a graduate program in a mental health field, completing the requisite hours of supervised clinical experience, and passing licensing exams.
  • Master of social work (MSW): A master’s degree in the field of social work that can include an emphasis on mental health services
  • Master of education (MEd): A master’s degree in education that can focus on areas such as counseling and school psychology

After both members of the couple have answered a virtual questionnaire about their relationship (which they’re prompted to do as soon as they sign up), the guide selects which of the program’s self-guided sessions are most applicable to them. Then, the couple meets with their guide for a welcome video chat. 

Eight guides are featured on the Ours homepage—all women from diverse ethnic backgrounds. The guide we were ultimately matched with is credentialed as a licensed mental health counselor, board-certified art therapist, and trauma-informed expressive arts therapist. 

How Do Counseling Sessions Work at Ours?



Starting the Program

After you sign up for Ours, you’re prompted to schedule a 45-minute welcome session with your assigned guide. This is one of the two live calls included in the program. You can sign up in the app, which shows you various windows of availability.

After we did so, we received an email from our guide with a recorded video of her introducing herself and explaining a bit about what to expect in our call.

This welcome message is sent from your guide’s own email (vs. a generic company one) and you can respond to them directly. 

In my experience, our guide replied promptly to my messages and her answers felt genuine and personal. You can also work with your guide to tweak the structure of the program. For instance, I asked her if we could complete the program on an expedited timeline due to our own personal scheduling needs, and she said “Of course!” and provided specific instructions about how to do so within the app. There are no limits to how often you can message a guide.

Welcome Session

The Welcome Session is conducted through Zoom. In ours, our guide asked us about the challenges we’re currently facing and gave us each a chance to describe what we believe to be our greatest strengths. She then gave us an overview of the self-guided sessions she chose for us based on how we answered our questionnaires (in the company’s lingo, this is your “personalized roadmap”). 

She explained what each would entail, and why she thought they were relevant for us in particular, while also describing which sessions she left out and giving us a chance to swap them out for other topics. She explained that the principles of the sessions were largely based on research done by the Gottman Institute, an organization headed by John and Julie Gottman, well-known researchers and therapists in the field of relationships.

Self-Guided Sessions

After their welcome call, couples are given access to four self-guided sessions, each designed to take about an hour. 

Each of the four self-guided sessions focuses on a different topic, but not every couple gets the same sessions—your guide chooses them for you based on how you answered the questionnaire. The sessions we got were: Stress & Co-Regulation, Sex & Intimacy, Navigating Our Differences, and Practicing Financial Love.

The sessions can be done anywhere with internet access, on any device, though a laptop or tablet would probably be best. They’re meant to take about an hour each, but you can pause them at any time and resume later, which we did.

You can move through these at whatever pace works best for you, though the program suggests that one per week is a good cadence. At some points, you’re asked to take photos of yourselves, or to write about the things you discussed, which your guide reviews after you’ve completed the sessions.

The activities in the sessions are highly varied. In the Stress & Co-Regulation one, for instance, we did an art therapy exercise, played a game to make each other laugh (copying each other’s face expressions), journaled silently about the things causing us stress, and shared these stresses using specific question prompts provided by the program. There were also video tutorials about how stress regulation works for both individuals and families that we watched together (sometimes at accelerated speed, which is an option I appreciated having).

In the Sex & Intimacy session, we were taught about “brakes and accelerators,” which is basically the Ours terminology for “turn-offs” and “turn-ons”, but with a broader emphasis on the fact that these factors can be environmental or situational, rather than just things a partner does or doesn’t do. For instance, a sink full of dirty dishes might be a brake, while certain music or food might be an accelerator. We were then prompted to talk about each other’s brakes and accelerators and share them. 

Between Sessions

After you finish a session, your guide emails you additional prompts such as, “Drop what you’re doing right now and text your partner one thing you appreciate about them.” You can also email your guide if you have questions, and they sometimes respond to things that you wrote about in the app while working through the self-guided sessions. When we left half of our session unfinished, our guide emailed us with a gentle nudge to pick up where we left off. 

Wrap-Up Call

At the end of the program, you have a 30-minute live video chat with your guide. You can schedule this through the app by choosing from various available time slots. In the call, you go over the main themes you learned about while completing the sessions, and discuss the goals and skills you hope to carry into the future.

What Happens If I Miss a Session at Ours?

You may reschedule live sessions with 24 hours’ notice, but if you miss a session, you forfeit your opportunity to attend it and are not refunded. You may move on with the remainder of the program, though.

Switching Therapists at Ours

Ours does not recommend switching guides after starting the program and told us that they have yet to have a client request to do so. 

If someone did request to switch their guide, though, Ours would accommodate them, though there would be a charge for scheduling another welcome session. When I asked how much this charge would be, they didn’t provide me with a concrete answer. I chose not to miss a session and find out as part of writing this review. 

Pausing or Canceling Therapy at Ours

Ours strongly encourages clients to complete its full program, and requires an upfront, non-refundable payment (with the exception of the free trial option currently on offer).

Quality of Care and User Satisfaction

I really liked our guide, Stephanie, and quickly felt comfortable speaking with her. Unlike my experiences in traditional therapy, she shared anecdotes about her own life, which gave us a sense of who she is. When I emailed her between sessions, her answers felt genuine and personal.

When working through the self-guided sessions, I enjoyed the ease of being able to pause at any time and resume them when we were ready, as our lives are fairly chaotic and we were interrupted several times. That said, you do need to set aside some time to focus. I initially underestimated how interactive the sessions were and attempted to start one on my phone while on a walk, only to realize that we needed a pen and paper for an art therapy exercise.

One of the most helpful aspects of the sessions were the guidelines they provide for conversation. For instance, I was told to listen to my partner describe a source of stress to him without offering any advice for feedback. Let me tell you—this was physically hard for me to do. I was itching to jump in and impose my opinion on how he should handle the problem. Apparently this is often counterproductive, and my partner really appreciated my taking a different approach than usual and listening more attentively. 

While the insights we came to weren’t as deep as those I’d arrived at in clinical therapy settings, the activities helped us refocus on the quality of our relationship and learn some useful strategies for minimizing tension and conflict. 

According to our user survey, most people had a similarly good experience, with 80% of respondents giving Ours an overall positive review. The majority of respondents said that they would recommend it to a friend, and 95% rated the website as either easy to navigate or at least not notably difficult. 

According to our subject matter expert, Hannah Owens, MSW,, a 30-minute session is a time frame that is short for individual therapy and very short for couples therapy: “This cannot compare to weekly 60- or 90-minute sessions, which is more the norm for traditional couples counseling.”

While the Ours program was useful for us, I can see how it’d be insufficient for couples who need to work through more serious issues. Additionally, says Owens, the potential issue with self-guided sessions is that you and your partner are not held accountable to anyone but yourselves. 

“If you find yourselves getting stuck in conflicts or certain ways of thinking or approaching the sessions, there is not an objective third party there to acknowledge patterns of behavior that you might not otherwise notice or be able to address,” she says.

Ultimately, the program felt like more of a jumping-off point to me than a solution to our problems. It made me prioritize our relationship more and feel empathetic towards my partner, but left me with the sense that there was a lot of work left to be done, both on myself and within our relationship. The hard work of developing good habits and, perhaps more importantly, breaking bad ones (like making critical remarks or having sloppy financial planning), feel too big to be fixed in a four-week span. In other words, it was a fun and valuable experience, but not a cure-all for our deeper challenges.

Privacy Policies at Ours

When we asked Ours staff about its privacy policy, they said that they are not required to follow HIPAA, but that anything users submit in the program can only be seen by their guide and the guide’s supervisor (if needed) and that no one else has access. 

Still, this is potentially a point of concern. “Just because a company is not required to be HIPAA-compliant does not mean they can't be,” says Owens.

While I wasn’t overly concerned with privacy during the Zoom calls because the conversation was fairly general, there were moments during the self-guided sessions when we were prompted to type what we discussed with each other. Knowing that the information would exist online, in writing, without a very clear understanding of privacy protections, influenced what I was comfortable sharing. 

In addition, Owens points out that the customer service representative made no mention of encryption, which would be useful since you and your partner are putting intimate details in writing. Ours also does not guarantee that it won’t sell user data.

Ours vs. Its Competitors 

Ours is one of many solid options for premarital counseling or online couples counseling, as 80% of our survey respondents gave it a positive review. This was slightly higher than the 77% positivity rating of another premarital counseling service, Regain, but lower than the 90% positivity rating for another option, Growing Self. When asked whether they’d recommend Ours to a friend or someone like them, 61% said they’d be likely to do so, compared to 69% who said the same for Growing Self, and 72% for Regain. In terms of therapists diversity, 84% of Ours users gave it a generally positive rating, which is the same percentage users gave Growing Self and slightly higher than they gave Regain (80%).

Ours and Growing Self both offer secular online premarital services led by licensed therapists, though their structures differ:

  • Ours charges a fixed fee of $400 total for two live, private sessions and four self-guided sessions.
  • Growing Self’s premarital course, “Lifetime of Love”, is $265 per couple for one six-hour session. It’s not private (up to six couples participate), but does include interactive elements. It also offers private premarital sessions that cost between $105 and $160 per 45-minute session. Clinician rates vary and some offer sliding scales.

Final Verdict

Overall, Ours is a great option for couples who are already committed to each other and fairly comfortable talking about their emotions, but need a little help with communication skills, coping mechanisms, and planning for shared goals. It provided me with a structured way to have meaningful conversations with my partner and taught us some valuable skills.

However, the fact that most of the sessions were self-guided meant that we didn’t dive too deeply into either of our psychological issues. We weren’t unpacking past traumas or coming to any big epiphanies about ourselves or each other. Thus, it would probably be less beneficial, if not difficult to complete at all, for couples who have serious problems to work through. 

Methodology

To fairly and accurately review the best online therapy programs, we sent questionnaires to 55 companies and surveyed 105 current users of each. This allowed us to directly compare services offered by gathering qualitative and quantitative data about each company and its users’ experiences.

Specifically, we evaluated each company on the following factors: website usability, the signup and therapist matching processes, therapist qualifications, types of therapy offered, the service's quality of care, client-therapist communication options, session length, subscription offerings, client privacy protections, average cost and value for money, whether it accepts insurance, how easy it is to change therapists, overall user satisfaction, and the likelihood that clients would recommend them.

We also signed up for the companies in order to get a sense of how this process worked, how easy to use the platform is, and how therapy takes place at the company. Then, we interviewed a few of the therapists we found who either currently work or worked for this company in the past and worked with three subject matter experts to get their expert analysis on how suited this company is to provide quality care to therapy seekers. 

Edited by Ally Hirschlag

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