What is premarital counseling?
Premarital counseling is a unique focus of therapy geared towards working with engaged couples planning on marriage. The counseling sessions vary among therapists but typically encompass a series of discussions that provide a platform for exploring strengths, areas of growth, future goals, conflict resolution strategies, and addressing issues related to in-laws, finances, intimacy, family planning, and more. The counseling sessions are led by a counselor, such as a marriage and family therapist, professional clinical counselor, or social worker. Other times, couples may reach out to their pastor for counseling.
Who might benefit from premarital counseling?
All couples can benefit from premarital counseling, even if the couple is not planning to marry. Couples who participated in premarital counseling experienced a 30% boost in marital satisfaction, surpassing those who did not engage in such counseling
How does online premarital counseling work? And is it as effective as in-person counseling?
Online premarital counseling is similar to in-person counseling, except that the couples can be in the comfort of their own home. The virtual sessions are through HIPPA-compliant video platforms and are just as effective as in-person therapy. Online counseling can be extremely beneficial and effective for couples and have an excellent outcome. One of the downfalls with virtual sessions is the hazard of errors with internet connections causing videos to freeze or drop during important moments. Another struggle is when a person can be half on screen and the therapist is unable to track the entire body rations. At home therapy, clients have to consider interruptions such as the doorbell, cat walking along the computer screen, dogs barking, or children interrupting, all of which take away the significance and focus of the counseling.
In-person counseling is always the most preferred method because the therapist can control the environment (no dogs barking or unexpected doorbells being rung), and can visually track the entire body of each person (anxious leg kicks, fidgeting with the blanket). In-person also creates a sense of connection when walking into the therapy office and creating small talk opportunities for connection.
What should someone consider when choosing an online premarital counseling platform?
Do your research. The internet is a great resource to review therapists’ backgrounds and connect with a few in order to see what is the best fit for your relationship. Clients have more choices when seeking out a private practice therapist that provides online services.It is good for clients to call therapists, speak to them individually, and find the best-fit therapist for their relationship needs.
If you choose to use one of the larger online platforms, the therapists may not have specializations, such as attending the Prepare and Enrich trainings for working with premarital couples. When using an online platform that assigns a therapist because you both have similar boxes checked, doesn’t give you the authority to have a choice. Counseling is not a one-size-fits-all, and these larger corporations assign therapists to clients.
The large online platforms provide a great resource to many small communities or those lacking mental health support. There are always pros and cons to situations. Pros is that online is easy to access since COVID times, allowing more people to have access to mental health services. It also allows clients to get scheduled for counseling sessions quickly and takes away the time-consuming research to find the best-fit therapist. The con is that you will get a therapist who may not have a specialization in premarital counseling or couples in general.
Who may not be a good fit for online premarital counseling?
The 3 A’s are not a good fit for online premarital counseling – Active addiction, active abuse, or active affair. These three cause an unsafety in the relationship and need to stop before starting therapy. Also, couples who are in high conflict or those who have mental health issues may need more in-person treatment and less virtual therapy. Another area of not being a good fit for online premarital counseling is if clients are unable to have a confidential area with no interruptions.
At Estes Therapy, 95% of the calls are requesting in-person services and it has become extremely difficult to schedule our virtual therapists. During the initial part of COVID-19, 95% of our services were for virtual sessions, but it has now shifted throughout the past year and our virtual therapists are having a harder time getting scheduled with clients. Clients report burnout from sitting behind a video screen and want the in-person experience. They will wait for an in-person session to avoid the virtual sessions. The in-the-counseling-room experience is the most impactful for connectivity, the therapist can track the entire body reactions (such as foot kicking, holding hands, nervous twitches, etc), the therapist also can either roll closer in or sit further away, and can control the confidentiality of the room.