Good, Intimate Couples Therapy Is Possible Via Phone, Skype, FaceTime, And Video Chat
At Tribeca Therapy, we do remote couples therapy via phone, Skype, FaceTime, and video chat. We work with couples who started in person in our Tribeca and Park Slope, Brooklyn offices and then transitioned to phone couples counseling or video couples counseling, as well as couples we have never met in person. It’s possible to do good, intimate relationship therapy remotely, but it requires flexibility, a good sense of humor, and the acknowledgment that the set-up isn’t ideal.
The Logistics Of Phone Or Video Marriage Therapy Can Be Tricky, But Can Also Create A Bond Based On Playfulness, Flexibility, And Humility
Admittedly, the logistics of phone marriage therapy and video marriage therapy can be tricky. Not having all the parties together in the room can be hard. It can result in missing out on nonverbal cues, the energy between partners, and the closeness created by being physically together. Internet and phone connectivity issues can also be a banal, but very real complication for Skype, FaceTime, video chat, and phone sessions. Sometimes things are missed, both literally and metaphorically, and everyone has to repeat themselves. This can be annoying, but these delays can sometimes help clarify a thought or give someone an extra moment to rethink a response.
There are lots of ways that phone and video chat couples counseling can be awkward–doorbells ringing, dogs or kids interrupting, a landline ringing, etc.–but that awkwardness can also create a bond that is based on playfulness, flexibility, and humility. Everyone knows the set-up isn’t perfect, so everyone is forced to roll with the punches.
Should A Couple In Remote Relationship Therapy Be Together But Separate From The Therapist, Or Should Everyone Be In Different Places?
In phone couples therapy or video couples therapy, the couple is ideally physically together. Having the couple together, but separate from the therapist, can make them feel more united and like a team. Relationship therapy becomes something they are truly doing together. But if that’s not possible, everyone should be in different places.
With rare exception, having one member of the couple with the therapist in the office and the other by himself or herself is not preferable. It can create an imbalance in the therapist’s alliance, and can sometimes be used as a power play by reinforcing one person’s separateness or perceived lack of presence in the relationship.
While Phone Sessions Are Impactful, Video Chat Helps Us Stay Connected Face-To-Face
Phone sessions can be quite impactful, but sometimes it’s helpful to see our patients face-to-face through Skype, FaceTime, or other video chat. As therapists, we appreciate being able to see couples in their natural habitats, not dressed and made-up ready to face the world. The vulnerability present in seeing couples in their comfortable clothes (sometimes pajamas!) with some of their guard down allows us to get closer.
It is also meaningful for video chat couples therapy patients to see us in our offices, a place that is familiar and comforting to them. It encourages everyone to feel connected even at the times they can’t physically be there.
Phone Couples Counseling And Video Chat Couples Counseling Can Help Couples Navigate Distance In Relationships
Distance can be a huge stressor on a relationship–long-distance relationships, frequent travel, or making decisions over distance. Not having day-to-day contact with a partner can put a lot of pressure on the contact that does happen. Couples analyze every interaction to collect information about how the relationship is going, how one partner feels, etc. Not only is this exhausting, but it also artificially raises the stakes on banal things. For example, when one partner is short on the phone or doesn’t respond to a text quickly, there is a temptation to examine and extrapolate meaning when it doesn’t necessarily exist. This can trigger frustration and conflict, and contribute to a dynamic of feeling attacked or scrutinized.
Phone marriage therapy or video chat marriage therapy can help navigate this minefield. Often, couples who are long-distance talk more, but they don’t necessarily talk better. Naming the difficulties that exist can make them seem more manageable, and couples can feel more like a team working together to stay connected, rather than one person being the chaser and one being the runner. Relationship therapy can also aid determining if a long-distance relationship is viable so both parties don’t suffer interminably.