It could be that you and your partner have been struggling for some time now. Perhaps, you always disagree and can’t see eye-to-eye. Or maybe the coronavirus pandemic, forcing you both to be home more, is bringing to light or emphasizing issues you didn’t realize were as bad as they are. Either way, the situation is putting a real strain on the relationship.
You both know you need help and that therapy is essential for getting that help. But getting to the therapist’s office just isn’t feasible right now as the world battles COVID-19.
That’s where online couples counseling comes in.
The technology isn’t new, as we’ve had video conferencing for quite some time now. But online therapy might be new to you and your partner.
Here are three tips to help you navigate online couples therapy at home, so you get the most out of the experience.
1. What to Do with the Kids During Your Online Couples Counseling Session
If you’re a parent, one significant concern is what to do with the kids when you and your partner are meeting with your therapist. Naturally, the session won’t be constructive if your children are present and can hear everything you say.
You and your partner need privacy to talk freely. Even if they are young infants, you don’t want to have to take care of a child while you’re focusing on therapy. There are lots of ideas, but here are a few:
- Have them in a nearby room with their favorite games and puzzles (either traditional or computer)
- Have them build a big fort that they can show you when you’re finished with your session
- Let them watch a video or listen to music (preferably with headphones) with some snacks (if they’re old enough)
- Schedule your session during nap time
- Try having a grandparent, aunt/uncle or babysitter entertain them on a zoom call in another room
- If they’re old enough, they could keep themselves busy in the house while you have your session in your car or yard
Also know that your therapist will be very understanding that an interruption from your child could happen. Just help them regroup and come back into the session as best you can.
2. How to Handle Pets During Your Couples Counseling Session Online
Pets are another variable to take into account when having an online couples counseling session. Thankfully, they’re more manageable than kids.
For example, you could get away with having your pet dog or cat present on the call. Pets can be a welcome distraction to the session. However, your pet parakeet might not be the best addition to the call. Perhaps you know your dog is too energetic, or your cat too destructive, to have them present during the session.
Consider putting pets in a separate room or outside, covering the birdcage, or putting your pets in their crates. Sweeten the deal with a treat!
When in doubt, if you know that your pet will be a distraction to the call, then it’s best not to have them with you.
3. Find the Best Setup for Your Online Therapy Session
If you’ve watched people do online video interviews, you’ll know there’s a broad spectrum of consideration when it comes to the setup. Some people have books or artwork in the background. Others have a blank white wall. Here are some thoughts:
- Try to have the call in a room and not outside. For one, you’ll want your privacy. Two, outside calls might get disrupted from the wind blowing in the microphone, sun in your eyes, glare on the screen, or changing weather. (The exception being as noted above if you’re looking for privacy that you can’t find in your house. Outdoors may be your best option.)
- If using wifi, have your device as close as possible to the router. This strategy will help with signal strength and image clarity.
- Use a computer or tablet device with a camera instead of a cell phone, so you can see yourself and your partner on the screen and the therapist more clearly.
- Try to keep the background neutral rather than cluttered or distracting.
Typically, therapy lasts for multiple sessions. So, for the first call, treat yourselves with kindness if things don’t go right the first time. You’ll get the hang of online counseling soon enough and find your own best practices to make it successful.
MARRIAGE COUNSELING COLUMBUS OHIO
If it feels like your relationship is struggling or experiencing excess stress during the COVID-19 pandemic, and you decide you’re in need of online marriage counseling from Ohio-based couples therapists, please contact Blue Boat Counseling today. Our skilled marriage counselors can help you get started with online therapy. We’re here to help.