What Are The Advantages of Online Relationship Counselling?

couple on a beach talking about counsellingSex has dropped away. Intimacy and sharing good times seem to have become a memory. Once there was joy and passion but now the sense of specialness is gone. The meaning behind being together has started to be unclear. It sometimes feels like just two individuals cohabiting or living together instead of a couple. It’s like a dysfunctional relationship: it isn’t functioning anymore.

These are some of the things people say to me when we start webcam counselling for relationship issues. But can therapy over the Internet really make a difference to a relationship? And how does online relationship counselling work?

Can Online Couples Therapy Improve a Relationship?

Meeting online with a relationship counsellor gives time for partners to look at their life together from the outside. Online counselling conversations are usually quite relaxed. You are in your own home, comfortable on your own furniture and you don’t even have to travel to the appointment. A therapeutic conversation can be used to create a new space in which to look at the relationship and consider it from new perspectives. As a therapist I invite people to reflect on their preferences for a life together as well as what is important to them as individuals. Often these conversations are as much about what you both want to hold onto as they are about what you want to let go of.

Sometimes people ask me about which technique or method I use in couples counselling. Methods and techniques can be useful but I don’t believe in simply applying the same approach with every couple I see. Ideas and models are there to guide us, not to leave us feeling trapped, so it’s important that we don’t try to make the relationship fit a mould. If there was one strategy that worked for everyone, someone would have written the book and we would all know about it by now. Our relationships have a uniqueness that deserves respect. As I learn more about your shared circumstances and individual preferences I can offer you some of the strategies that other couples have suggested are helpful. I am informed not only by my education, training and research but by the stories and journeys that other couples have shared with me.

Relationships are dynamic and evolve over time as well as when people are struggling with personal problems, expecting a child or parenting, returning to work after an absence, dealing with or recovering from illness and with our changing experiences of life generally. One of the approaches I use to help us talk is called Narrative Therapy. The idea behind this approach is that we make sense of our lives through the stories we tell each other about ourselves and our relationships. Of course we are always making new meaning out of how we spend our time and online relationship therapy is no exception. There are stories about why people come to see me as well as about what brought them together in a relationship in the first place. In recollecting our intentions for starting relationship therapy, we can start recovering some of the lost meaning of the relationship as well as take a position on our hopes for the future. Online counselling can be a rite of passage for a couple and lead to some defining moments or turning points.

What Issues Can Be Discussed During Webcam Couples Counselling?

Online relationship therapy is suitable for conversations about many aspects of a partnership or marriage. I specialise in assisting both straight and gay couples where there are difficulties with trust, sex related problems, intimacy issues, concerns about sex ‘addiction’ or ‘cheating’, pornography use or sexuality (for example, bisexual or homosexual identity). I work with a diversity of relationships including both monogamous and ‘open’ relationships and polyamory. I also assist couples where one or both of the partners is affected by Anxiety, OCD, Depression, ADHD and other mental health concerns. If your situation involves something that is not mentioned here feel free to contact me and ask me if I can work with you.

Online couples counselling is NOT suitable for situations where there is domestic violence or any danger or risk of abuse to children. Also, if either or both of the partners is at a serious risk of self harm or suicide, online relationship therapy over webcam or other means is inappropriate. In any of these situations, for urgent matters you should contact emergency services (police and ambulance) or see a therapist in person if the risk is not immediate. If in doubt, contact your nearest public hospital and ask them where you can get help.

How Does Couples Therapy Over Webcam Work?

With webcam appointments, couples often sit together in from of the computer. Alternatively, you can be in different places and we can use Skype Group Video Calling. If one or both of you don’t have a webcam, it is also possible to proceed through voice-only sessions through Skype or telephone. The great thing about working with phone or voice-only Skype is that it often means each person really hears each other when we are not distracted by the ‘body language’ of being face to face. Of course, the opportunity to see each other has benefits as well. Having visual cues can help us to know when it is our turn to speak. Some of this comes down to your personal preferences. I believe online counselling and webcam relationship therapy should be as comfortable and convenient as possible so I’m willing to work in ways that are flexible and accommodating.

Once you have decided to go ahead, we negotiate a time and then add each other as Skype contacts. At the time of the appointment I contact you both and then we start, just as if we were all in the same room. I do ask that online appointments are paid for prior to the session. You can do this with a credit card or sometimes a debit card through Paypal. I won’t see your private bank details and Paypal has measures in place to protect your purchase and you will receive a receipt. Depending on where you are located it may also be possible to pay directly into my bank account.

Can Someone Do Relationship Counselling On Their Own?

Sometimes we have personal issues that get in the way of enjoying a partnership or marriage. Perhaps there is something making us feel vulnerable or a fear that keeps bothering us or a stress that won’t seem to go away. I’ve discovered that often when individuals start sorting out their own ‘issues’, the relationship problems just tend to disappear. There is an idea around that relationship counselling means people have to see the therapist together. But I’ve known many situations where both partners have sought out their own individual counselling and the act of doing this has recovered or renewed the relationship. So even meeting for an online appointment on your own can be advantageous for a relationship.

For those who do want to meet me at the same time, sorting out a relationship crisis or problem in a marriage begins with us meeting together. This is a recognition that both partners want change. As an online therapist, I can be an audience to your efforts and commitments to change even if we are not in the same room. I’m not here to judge what is wrong or right, or to referee an argument. But I will help you explore your own commitment to the relationship and develop more meaning around what has been going on.

If you want to try online relationship therapy or marriage counselling and need more information about my fees and availability, please contact me.

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About Forward Therapy

Ash Rehn is a counsellor and narrative therapist with over 20 years experience. He specialises in therapeutic conversations and collaborative therapy for anxiety, burnout, depression, midlife crisis, sex and relationship issues, pornography use problems and counselling for lesbians and gay men.

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