Illustration of couple hugging and considering Online Marriage Counseling

Marriage Counseling Questions:

Online Marriage Counseling

I’ve specialized in online marriage counseling, couples therapy, and relationship coaching for many years — way before Covid-19 made this our “new normal.” Over those years, I’ve talked with countless therapist colleagues who were skeptical about online marriage counseling.

My colleagues were surprised when I told them that online couples therapy is often actually more effective than in-person meetings. They were doubly surprised to know that many (most?) of my couples therapy clients actually prefer to work online, even when in-person meetings are an option.

Even more curious than before, my colleagues wanted me to spill the beans and explain how online marriage counseling could possibly be so effective. I figure it’s only fair that I share it with you, too.

Advantages of Online Marriage Counseling

I meet with couples from all over the world in the privacy of their own homes using three-way video for relationship coaching, couples therapy, and marriage counseling online. I also provide the same coaching and marriage counseling services in Denver from my office. Interestingly, in recent years even before the pandemic I often spent 75% of my days in the office meeting with Denver-based couples therapy clients… by online video. 

My office is on the penthouse level of an office building in Denver with a gorgeous west-facing view of the mountains. I’ve had clients stand at the window during their free consultation, take it in and remark, “I think I can see my house!” only to ask, “Can we do marriage counseling online?” and then never come to my office again, despite the fact that they live two miles away and that my couch is comfy.

Even more striking to me than my client’s preference to have marriage counseling online are the often superior results of in-person couples therapy in Denver. Shocking, I know, but couples who meet with me for relationship coaching or marriage counseling online tend to be even more successful in repairing their relationships than some of the couples I meet with in person. 

At first, I was as surprised by this as anyone, but I’ve come to understand that online marriage counseling has significant advantages over in-person meetings, for a number of reasons.

Why Online Couples Counseling Works

“How effective is online marriage counseling?” is one of the marriage counseling questions I hear most.

Here’s what I say: Effective, evidence-based marriage counseling, couples therapy, and relationship coaching, requires diving deep into the issues that are creating anger, hurt, and frustration between partners, regardless of format, medium, or location. That’s just how marriage counseling works.

After this crucial step, I help couples understand each other, turn conflict into connection, and restore their strong bonds. 

The process of online marriage counseling is virtually identical to the work we do in-office, but there are certain aspects of online couples therapy that make it more effective:  

  1. Time and the “PITA Factor”
  2. Consistency
  3. Momentum
  4. Emotional Intimacy
  5. Depth

We’ll start with a deeper look at each of these five factors  — and why they often make online marriage counseling, couples therapy, and relationship coaching superior to their in-person counterparts.

Of course, it needs to be said that there are some situations in which carrying out counseling, therapy, and coaching in the online space is not ideal. In those situations, meeting with a qualified professional in-person is the better choice. We’ll get to that after discussing the five factors.

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1. Marriage Counselors Online: It’s About Time

The first advantage of online marriage counseling involves time and the “PITA factor.” I’ve chosen to delve into time as the first of the four factors since its impact on whether or not couples therapy is effective is simply enormous. 

The financial cost of marriage counseling or whether or not insurance covers marriage counseling that keeps many couples from getting the help they need. It’s the time cost.

Many of the couples we work with are frantically busy with children, careers, and mountains of other responsibilities. Especially when working with busy clients, getting two people in the same place at the same time is challenging. By the time I get one partner sorted out the other has a conflict and we all have to consult our calendars and start over. It’s like playing Battleship… 

I’m sitting with two clients in my office, all of us staring at phones and attempting to schedule an appointment that works for everyone.

Me: “6/23 at 2?” 

Partner A: “No. 6/25 at 4?”

Me: “Miss. 6/27 at 9am?”

Partner A: “Yes!”

Partner B: “Actually, no…”

Everyone looks away from their phones and sighs.

I know you know. Work schedules are erratic and any number of things can come up that make meeting in-person difficult: someone has to go out of town it’s a street-fight with rush hour traffic during the after-hours times most couples need; and then there’s the babysitter situation… Who’s going to take care of the kids while mom and dad are gone for hours? 

If you think I’m exaggerating for comedy or effect, please know that I’m not. Couples, especially the busiest ones, often find professional help using Google searches like, “marriage counseling near me” and “couples counseling near me” in efforts to make it more convenient, but it never seems to be convenient enough. Just the simple task of leaving the house and driving to the office tacks on so. Much. Time. (Not to mention the fact that you should never choose a marriage counselor on convenience alone).

Stopping what you’re doing, finding your stuff, sitting in traffic, parking, riding the elevator up, waiting for me, having the session, riding the elevator back down, walking back to your car… You get it. A simple 45-minute appointment ends up requiring two hours or more when you include all the other necessary steps. Committing to that kind of time expenditure every week just seems to be too much for many people. In the end they ask themselves, “Do we really need marriage counseling?” and potentially forgo something that could save their relationship.

In short: It’s a total PITA (Pain In The Aardvark) for people to make it to in-person relationship coaching or marriage counseling consistently.

Marriage Counseling Near Me

You’ll never find marriage counseling more convenient or closer to you than counseling you can do from your own home. With marriage counseling online, you don’t have two people screaming out of work and fighting traffic to make it to the meeting. (I also won’t have one person sitting on my couch alone, annoyed that their partner is late for the session). You just go home, eat dinner, and then meet with me in your living room. 

Virtual marriage counseling is as close to home as you can get — I come to you!

Long-Distance Couples Counseling Sessions

In the olden days, when one partner was traveling or if a couple was going on vacation, we’d have to skip our session that week. If my clients were in a long-distance relationship, we could only meet together when the out-of-town partner got on a plane and flew to Denver. Talk about a hassle!

These days, location is practically irrelevant to the continuity of sessions — particularly for online relationship coaching. If one person has to travel, they can just join a three-way video call from their hotel room for long-distance couples therapy. I also regularly meet with couples while they are on vacation. And many of my couples are in long-distance relationships – for them, online couples counseling is a no-brainer. 

Of course, when I act as a therapist providing mental health treatment, I must be legally able to practice behavioral healthcare in my client’s state of residence; that can be a limiting factor. Online relationship coaching, and online premarital counseling, however, do not require state licensure.

Online Marriage Counseling: Anywhere In The World

Another great thing about online marriage counseling is that I’m able to meet with clients regardless of where they live or happen to be at any given moment. Since I specialize in online counseling and coaching, the majority of my clients aren’t even in Colorado. Many live in various different parts of the United States and some others live in other countries, too. I have clients in all sorts of locations from Dusseldorf to Dubai. I also meet with more than a few “location independent” Tech Nomads – and I love it.

Online Marriage Counseling For Busy Families

Meeting for online marriage counseling is an absolute game-changer for parents of young children. In the past, attending couples therapy sessions required arranging for childcare which was such a barrier for many couples. It added a layer of complexity, time, and expense to the whole process of marriage counseling that often tipped everything over into the “too hard” category. This led to couples not getting help for their relationship when they needed it, resulting in regrettable consequences for so many families.

With online couples counseling, it’s so much easier and better now. You don’t need a babysitter; we can schedule our meeting after the little guys are asleep in their rooms, or the bigger ones are extremely pleased that you’re having a “meeting” so they can watch a movie. New parents don’t have to worry about diaper bags and strollers and lugging babies to my office and back. Just have marriage counseling at home. It’s so much easier.

Online Marriage Counseling is Easier, But There’s More To the Story

Doing marriage counseling online is not just more pleasant and convenient – it’s more effective, too.

Clearly, the ease of meeting for marriage counseling online is unbeatable. I think this is the main reason why marriage counseling has become so popular in recent years, even before the pandemic. 

But the real reason why online couples therapy works for most couples goes much deeper than convenience. Doing marriage counseling online is not just more pleasant and convenient – it’s more effective, too. Here’s why.

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2. Online Couples Therapy Creates Consistency

Because it is such a genuine pain for people to schlep themselves back and forth from the office every week to do in-person marriage counseling… they don’t. Too often, even the most earnest and committed couples that choose in-person marriage counseling are forced into inconsistency. Unfortunately, inconsistency absolutely devastates the efficacy of marriage counseling. 

In-Person = Inconsistent: Inconsistent = Ineffective

When couples start marriage counseling or couples therapy it’s not usually because they want to tell me how much they love each other and how happy they are. (Although that does actually happen with extremely cute online premarital counseling couples. That’s always fun.) 

Mostly, couples seek help for their relationships when they’re struggling with to communicate in a way that connects. Someone takes offense to something someone else said or did, becomes emotionally flooded, reacts negatively, and then the other person reacts negatively to the first person’s negative reaction, eliciting more negativity. At this point, arguments are a constant in the relationship. This is the heart of Systems Theory, the central theory underpinning all evidence-based approaches to marriage counseling, couples therapy, and relationship coaching.

Relationship Systems Are Powerful

If you’ve been married for any length of time, the chain of reactions I just described probably sounds familiar to you. These negative communication cycles are powerful. They can devolve into power struggles, take on a life of their own and be difficult to stop without consistent support from a marriage counselor. That’s what good marriage counselors do: We stop you from spiraling into repetitive, horrible fights. Then, we start new, productive conversations that move you forward in a more positive direction.

Growth is a process with stages and layers that build over time.

Negative cycles are always most intense and crucial to address in the beginning stages of marriage counseling, when couples are experiencing recurring conflicts and still reeling from recent not-so-great experiences. Depending on how long their relationship problems have been going on, they may even be afraid that their relationship is failing. Often, they’re not feeling emotionally safe with each other and they have not yet acquired the skills and understanding to sidestep these communication issues on their own. In the early stages of relationship coaching and couples therapy, I know that couples are usually walking on eggshells, and are going to have conflict between our sessions. 

Perhaps counterintuitively, these conflicts can be very productive if handled correctly; in subsequent sessions we can use those experiences as “learning opportunities” to get under the hood and figure out what’s creating conflict. From there, we can start rebuilding, developing new skills, and building a foundation for growth and change. But getting there is a process. 

Even with all my experience and success as a marriage counselor, I have never been able to snap my fingers at a couple and say, “Okay, be nicer to each other,” have them say, “Oh, okay, we’ll do that,” then watch them drop their negative perceptions of each other and walk out of the session into relationship nirvana. Relationship growth is a process with stages and layers that build over time.

New Growth is Fragile

Each session of marriage counseling adds a delicate new layer of empathy, awareness, and understanding that is — quite frankly — fragile in the beginning. 

It’s very easy for a couple to achieve a vulnerable moment of connection in my office that gets swept right onto the floor and stomped on during a power struggle three days later. Relationship systems are challenging to change. Couples who are working on their relationships need consistent support to change their patterns of interactions.

Without regular meetings, negative cycles flare up between sessions and the fragile healing work that’s been accomplished is undone.

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3. Marriage Counseling Online = Momentum… and Better Results

Good marriage counseling does not take forever and when significant progress has been made, many couples are able to drop back to less frequent sessions. (Learn more about how long marriage counseling takes). However, couples counseling and relationship coaching is most effective when couples are able to attend sessions weekly, at least in the beginning. 

Having regular appointments allows a couple to keep the new ideas they learn in sessions fresh in their mind. Furthermore, the new positive experiences they have during their weekly sessions helps change the trajectory of their interactions in daily life outside of the sessions, as well.  

Online Couples Therapy vs. In Person Couples Therapy

I worked with one couple, Marissa and Ben, who loved each other but had been fighting a lot and were not enjoying each other when they began our sessions. They lived together but weren’t married, and were starting to doubt if they should ever marry given how hard things had been between them. They wanted my help in figuring out if they had a future together or if their conflict was a sign that they should call it quits.

Liftoff

We dove in with a relationship assessment to understand what the conflict was about. Like with many couples, it emerged that there was a lot of miscommunication that led Marissa to feel hurt, and led Ben to feel attacked. This led to conflict. We met weekly for a few weeks and began unraveling this knot of disconnection.

Gaining Altitude

One of the couples’ recurring issues came when Marissa would express her feelings to Ben. He would try to fix her problems rather than listening to her. She didn’t want advice, she wanted to him to work on his listening skills. While we discussed this pattern, Ben had a brand new insight about himself, due in no small part to Marissa’s emerging ability to share her more vulnerable feelings with Ben rather than getting angry and criticizing him. We were making progress. 

Our session ended with me giving both Marissa and Ben assignments to practice during the week. Marissa’s homework was to practice being as clear as possible with Ben regarding what she wanted to get out of important conversations (i.e., feeling connected and supported, not advised). Ben’s goal was to work on being present and listening with empathy during these important conversations. The couple wrote down their assignments on sticky notes and left the session feeling positive.

Starting to Cruise

Later that same week, Marissa began her homework. She asked Ben if he would sit on the couch and have one of “those” conversations with her. He knew what was up and did a beautiful job of reflecting her feelings and practicing what they had been learning in our sessions. After their talk, Marissa felt more connected. The couple shared a warm embrace, making Ben feel loved.

It was working! 

Turbulence!

Unfortunately, Marissa’s busy schedule forced the couple to miss their next weekly Denver marriage counseling session. Of course, things happen; the scheduling conflict was totally understandable. The following week, Ben had to go out of town. We rescheduled our next appointment for two more weeks out.

Then, ten days after our last session, Marissa came home after a long and frustrating day. Without a thought in her head about our last couples counseling session, she launched into a story about how stressed out she was by her toxic boss as she rummaged around in the refrigerator.

Ben, also not thinking about our last meeting, reflexively tried to be helpful by telling Marissa that her boss was an irredeemable jerk and that she should quit her job. Marissa started explaining all the reasons why she felt she couldn’t simply quit. Then, Ben shared his thoughts about why those reasons weren’t all accurate.

Mayday! We’re Going Down!

Back in their familiar cycle, Marissa felt that Ben was not understanding her. She felt invalidated, and like he was telling her that she was wrong for feeling the way that she did. Marissa got angry. Her sense of resentment was building. Ben got defensive and doubled down on explaining why he believed he was right, and how she should stop complaining about her job if she’s not going to do anything about it. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the couples’ conversation quickly escalated into a full-blown fight — the same repetitive fight they were having that led them to relationship coaching in the first place. Doors were slammed. Feelings were re-hurt. Except now it felt even worse, because it seemed that couples counseling wasn’t working! 

The next morning, eyes still puffy from crying, Marissa found her crumpled up sticky note at the bottom of her bag, with the reminder to clearly communicate when she wanted empathy from Ben rather than advice. Meanwhile, Ben was in the shower the same morning when he belatedly considered what might have happened the previous evening if he’d caught himself trying to “fix” and shifted into listening with the intent to understand instead. 

But it was too late for that, this time. While all our progress has not been lost, we had definitely had a backslide. In our next meeting, Ben and Marissa told me about how their assignment “didn’t work” and that they were both feeling a bit hopeless. 

Of course, the situation was not hopeless. I helped them rebuild. It actually wound up being a good learning experience for both of them, that in order to have a consistently positive relationship with each other they needed to find ways of reminding themselves about the new emotional intelligence skills we’d been practicing. (Next time, those sticky notes go on the bathroom mirror!) Just between you and me, though, I also spared a moment to think, “I really wish you two had come in last week so that we could have continued moving forward – instead of back.” 

Relationship Counseling Online Prevents “The Sag”

I didn’t give Ben and Marissa a hard time for missing a couple of sessions. Life happens. Instead, I explained to them that weekly couples counseling appointments are kind of like telephone poles holding wires off the ground. Closer together poles keep the wires firm and high while too much distance between them lets the wires sag to the ground.

Frequent and consistent support fosters momentum for positive change in a relationship. If I can meet with a couple weekly for even 8-12 weeks, we achieve momentum that builds on itself. The relationship feels easier and easier – and then we’re done. 

If a couple comes in for 8 or 12 sessions over the course of six months, meeting once every couple weeks or three, on the other hand… not so much. In the time between appointments, the fragile changes made during sessions are allowed to shatter. Then, the couple collapses back into their old negative patterns. Every session feels like starting over, and we spend half the time soothing new hurts before we can circle back around to the growth work again.

Online Couples Therapy Saved The Day

After the consequences of their inconsistency came to light, Marissa and Ben understood. We switched to online couples therapy sessions instead of in-person. It became much easier for them to make weekly appointments. They never missed another session. 

Over the next couple of months, our work gained momentum, built on itself, and spiraled up into new, positive, and enduring interactions. After a while, they no longer needed such frequent support and we began meeting every other week, then once a month, and then decided as a group that we had achieved their goals and that no further sessions were needed. 

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4. Marriage Counseling Online:  Emotional Intimacy

The ease that online marriage counseling brings to consistency and momentum is a huge reason that it can be superior to in-person marriage counseling, but it is far from the only reason or even the best one. Believe it or not, online marriage counseling often fosters an even greater emotional intimacy between my clients and I than if we were to do the same work in my office. 

I’ve had many people express surprise when I share this perspective. Online couples counseling skeptics often say something to the tune of, “Talking to a computer screen is so cold and impersonal!” 

However, these skeptics have never actually tried it. Clients meeting with me by online video immediately realize that they aren’t just talking to their laptop; they’re talking to me, and experiencing a level of emotional intimacy and depth that surpassed what they were able to achieve in-person.

When I meet with people online, they are not “on;” they are their true selves in their natural habitat.

Think about the difference in how you feel when you’re in a professional office compared to your own home, your safe space. Even if it’s a nice, comfortable office, there is always a little energetic tension when you’re in a professional environment. Tension that simply doesn’t exist when you’re in your own space.

In the safety of their own environment, people are able to be more emotionally intimate with me. 

Furthermore, there is a very interesting and much more personal quality to the interactions I have with clients who are in their home instead of in my office. I think that subconsciously, when people are “out” they are always, at least to a degree, adopting a public-facing persona. They have gotten dressed, put on shoes, may have put on some mascara and swiped a brush through their hair. They are “on.” 

When I meet with people online, they are not “on.” They are their true selves in their natural habitat. When meeting the same clients that I’ve previously met in my office for online help, I often learn things about them that I never learned during our in-person sessions. 

I meet their dogs. I see how they interact with their cat. With online couples counseling, I get much more information about the reality of the couple’s home life in terms of kids, stressors, and other factors. I can understand more about who does what around the house and what their actual life together is like – because it’s right there.

With online marriage counseling, discernment counseling, relationship coaching or couples therapy, I’m essentially coming to clients instead of having them come to me. When I’m beaming into their kitchen for sessions at a couple’s home, I feel like I’m right there with them in their lives, almost like a guest in their home. This shared experience creates a level of emotional intimacy that is very different, and in my opinion, more powerful than what I experience with couples for in-office marriage counseling.

5. Online Couples Counseling Creates Depth

Because I work with people both online and in-person at our Denver offices, I have the opportunity to notice the difference between how the same couples are in the office and at home. I have found that people seem to be more honest and more vulnerable when they’re home. We are also able to get into deeper, more intimate conversations more quickly.

I believe that this may also have something to do with the different contexts of in-person marriage counseling vs online marriage counseling. I don’t know about you, but I’m always a little jangled after driving around and being in transit. It takes me a bit of time to settle down and refocus on the business at hand – especially when the business at hand is a deep, emotionally-focused conversation. 

When I meet with clients in-person, it usually takes 5 to 10 minutes of chit-chatting for people to settle in and feel comfortable going deeper. Of course, they do. But often not for long.

I see them – in the midst of this powerful moment – glance at the clock on my side table and pull themselves away, preparing to find their keys and leave.

Especially in the contexts of therapy or powerful coaching in which people are making contact with big, important ideas or feelings, I think being in the office can inhibit people from staying in that deeper space. Imagine a couple who is having a transformational conversation and connecting with powerful emotions in my Denver marriage counseling office. Even if they are not consciously thinking about it, they know that in ten minutes they are going to have to get up, walk past the receptionist, ride down the elevator with a couple of strangers, find their car and drive back home.

I see them – in the midst of this powerful moment – glance at the clock on my side table and pull themselves away from the big, internal experiences they are having, preparing to find their keys and leave. 

This might seem like a subtle point, but think about it: A standard marriage counseling session is forty-five minutes, though many couples benefit from having 60 or even 90 minute couples counseling sessions. But in the office, people need ten minutes to settle down, make small talk, arrange the pillows, and get re-oriented as to where we are in the work before they can begin to move into the headspace where growth, awareness, and emerging change come from. It’s a little like entering into an altered state of consciousness. But then, about ten minutes before our session ends, they naturally start withdrawing from that mindset, pull themselves together, and shift back into the next thing in their day.

If we subtract those two ten-minute periods of transition, that only leaves about twenty-five minutes for a couple to be making contact with the deeper ideas, new awareness, and emerging feelings that is the work of good therapy or coaching. That’s not much time – especially not when we compare it with what can be accomplished through online couples therapy sessions.

Online Relationship Therapy Sessions Don’t Have a Hard Stop

With online relationship therapy or couples counseling, those transition periods are almost entirely avoided; we drop right into the good stuff. People are already relaxed and we can spend the full time together attending to the heart of the matter. People are able to stay present with me all the way up to the end of our session.

Perhaps even more importantly, they have more time to keep going after our sessions end. Couples meeting for marriage counseling online don’t have to screech off in two separate cars to get back to work. They don’t have to rush to go pick up the kids. Instead, they end the call with me and are still sitting on the couch together. They have time to continue talking about the important things that came up in our session, how they felt, and process what happened.

After online marriage counseling sessions, couples can start implementing ideas and strategies right away. Alternatively, partners can both have some private time to journal or think about our session. I often ask couples to take a ten or fifteen minute walk together after our session in order to process and reflect with each other. 

Having more time for in-depth work during and after our meetings because of the online couples counseling format helps couples get more out of the work. They make more progress more quickly than couples I meet with in-person.

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If you’re ready to grow, we’re here to help. Connect with us, and let us know your hopes and goals. We’ll follow up with recommendations, and will help you schedule a first, free consultation.

Online Marriage Counseling: The Limitations


With all of these advantages of online couples therapy, why isn’t everyone doing marriage counseling online? It’s perfect, right?

When Online Couples Counseling is a Bad Idea

Despite working better than in-person sessions for many couples, there are very real limitations to online marriage counseling; it’s not for everyone. 

For example, for online marriage counseling to work, a certain degree of comfort with technology is required. If you live in a rural area with poor cell service or internet access, it’s not going to work. You also need access to a computer, tablet or phone with a video camera and microphone, and with enough processing power to sustain a smooth conversation without lags or freezing. You do also need to be able to manage the technology. While meeting online with us is extremely easy, since we use a HIPAA compliant, secure online platform that is accessible to everyone without logging into a special platform, people who do not routinely use technology to communicate may feel intimidated.

Check out my Guide To Online Therapy if you want to learn more about the nuts-and-bolts of how it all works. 

In the past I’ve had Denver-based clients, particularly older ones, express a great deal of apprehension about online meetings because they think “they’ll be talking to a computer” or because they imagine it will be difficult or confusing to connect with me. 

Fortunately, though, these concerns are often overcome with experience. The first time we try it, they quickly understand that it is very easy, it works, and that it was still me. Our sessions feel exactly the same to them — I’m just in their living room, without all the hassle of transporting themselves to my office and back, and more time to talk about what matters most

Still, virtual marriage counseling by online video is really not feasible if your internet connection or hardware cannot sustain it. If there are lags or freezing issues, audio issues, or dropped calls, it makes the whole experience more frustrating than it is valuable. I will also share, honestly, that I will not attempt to work with couples over the phone. A huge part of what I do (and a component of any effective, evidence-based marriage counseling) is to observe the interactions of a couple in order to understand the dynamics, and their reactions to each other. 

Good marriage counseling is not “informational.” It is experiential. Without the benefit of seeing a couple, I can’t tell that Marissa stiffens and starts to get teary when Ben makes a comment that sounds well-intentioned. I don’t have the opportunity to say, “Wait, what’s happening here?” and give them both the chance to notice the dynamic in the moment, and use it constructively. 

Instead, I’d be as confused when, two minutes later, when Marissa was expressing anger and frustration. Ben would be feeling this negative energy far sooner than I would, over the phone, and would already have become defensive and shut down by the time I realized what was happening. I’d have to try to unwind from what had happened, feeling around in the dark, with two people who were emotionally activated and having negative reactions to each other that I can’t see. Meeting by phone is simply not helpful, and I won’t do it. 

On that note, the idea of providing meaningful “online couples counseling” by text or email exchange is so laughable that it feels ridiculous to even mention, although I know it’s a thing being marketed to people. If that is an option you are considering, here’s some free advice: You’d be much better off by working through a good, evidence-based self-help book or online class about how to improve your relationship, and then doing the exercises together. It will be cheaper, it will likely be more effective, and you won’t get bamboozled into believing you’ve done authentic couples therapy when you have not.

Online Marriage Counseling vs. In-Person Marriage Counseling


Technological limitations aside, there are situations where it really is better for you to work with a marriage counselor in-person. Here are a few of the most prominent examples in which online marriage counseling is not ideal:

  • High Conflict Situations
    • In the presence of extreme emotional dysregulation, couples counseling sessions can spiral out of control to the point that they’re not productive. If you can imagine couples screaming at the top of their lungs and storming out of the door, that’s what I’m talking about. In these cases, the physical space of the office is crucial for de-escalation. If you literally cannot communicate with each other without it becoming highly volatile and out of control, you should seek out in-person couples therapy from a qualified local provider.
  • Significant Mental Health Disorders (i.e. PTSD, substance abuse disorder, bipolar disorder etc.)
    • When significant diagnoses like these are present in one or both partner(s), and are creating significant distress or dysfunction in the relationship, you will be better served by seeking out in-person sessions with practitioners who specialize in the treatment of the relevant disorder(s). Furthermore, you may benefit from having a higher level of care, or “wraparound” services that are commonly found through community mental health organizations. For example, you could have access to medication management, group therapy, individual therapy for each of you, as well as a family therapy component, all within the same organization, and with the benefit of a coordinated treatment team working on your behalf. 
  • Domestic Violence
    • Couples that have histories of domestic violence require help from local providers who specialize in this specific issue. If there is an active threat or significant risk of violence between you currently, couples therapy is ethically contraindicated. You should each seek out individual psychotherapy from (separate) qualified, local providers who can help assess the safety of the situation, and connect you to local domestic violence resources as necessary. (Shelters, child protective services, law enforcement, etc). If you have both received successful treatment for the underlying issues that contributed to violence between you, a local, in-person family therapist with experience in DV can work with your individual therapists to help you create a healthy relationship together. 

Fortunately, these types of extreme situations are fairly rare. Sniffing them out is part of the assessment process of high-quality couples counseling. 

If you meet with me or another qualified therapist on my team for a free consultation, we’ll do a basic assessment. This assessment determines if your goals for our work together can be achieved through online marriage counseling or relationship coaching. If not, we will encourage you to meet with us at one of our Denver Metro locations – or connect you to a marriage counselor who can work with you locally if you live outside of Denver.

Is Online Couples Counseling Right For You?


I know that was a lot of information about all the pros and cons of doing relationship growth work online. I hope that it helped you understand the advantages and limitations of online couples counseling so that you can make a genuinely informed decision about the best course of action for you and your relationship.

If you’re interested in getting started, you can learn more about what to expect during your free marriage counseling consultation here.

Your partner in growth, 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby


Meet a Few of Our Online Marriage Counselors


“We Have Grown So Much”

“[Our online marriage counselor] has been a great asset to our marriage. In the few short months that my husband and I have been seeing her we have grown so much in our marriage. We feel so connected to each other and have the tools to get through conflict. We continue to meet with her because we are exploring deeper issues and she brings such warm perspective to our relationship.”
— Online Marriage Counseling Client

Growing Self Counseling and Coaching

Let’s Talk: Start With a Free Consultation

If you’re ready to grow, we’re here to help. Connect with us, and let us know your hopes and goals. We’ll follow up with recommendations, and will help you schedule a first, free consultation.

Marriage Counseling Questions | Couples Therapy Questions

If you’re considering getting involved in marriage counseling, couples therapy, or relationship coaching you probably have questions! Get your marriage counseling questions answered, right here.