Everyone talks about the impact that COVID-19 has had on healthcare and the economy, but another consequence that not many talk about is the emotional toll it has taken on family relationships. To reduce the spread of the novel Coronavirus, people are spending more time at home, with their partners, children, or extended family. On the one hand, this means more quality time spent together. On the other hand, more time can also lead to conflicts and misunderstandings regarding work-life balance and balancing parenting responsibilities.
Even if counsellor offices are closed, and social distancing guidelines are preventing you from going out, you can still seek online counselling for couples. It’s just as effective as traditional counselling, and it can help you overcome stressful times. If you’ve never taken part in online counselling sessions before and don’t know what to expect, here are some tips that will help you get ready and feel more comfortable.
How to get ready for online counselling for couples
- Schedule the session at a time that works for both of you. You should both be in the right mindset, so if one of the partners has a headache or keeps thinking of the work meeting they lost, they won’t give it their best.
- Make sure there are no interruptions. Couples therapy requires both of you to be present and focus on your feelings. So, let all other family members know you’re busy, ask a babysitter to help you for one hour if necessary, and put the phones away.
- You’ll need complete privacy. Therapy is about opening up, and talking about your feelings without restraint. If you constantly lower your voice or worry that someone else in the house might hear you, it won’t work, so schedule the session at a time you know you’re alone.
- Close all other apps. If you’re downloading something during the session, that may affect the connection quality. Also, don’t stay logged in on social media or other online communication channels because the notifications will distract you.
After the session
- Allow yourself time to process what happened. During the session, you’ll touch on sensitive matters and explore your feelings. This is all food for thought. Afterwards, you might feel the need to think about what you found out, or have an intimate discussion with your partner. So, if possible, try to schedule the session in the evening, at the weekends, or anytime you have a few free hours. You might not feel ready to work or home-school the kids immediately afterwards.
- You might be given “homework”. Your therapist may give you some exercises to strengthen your relationship and help you communicate better. For example, you might be asked to keep a diary of your feelings, go on a couple’s trip, or try something new. These exercises are always tailored to your unique needs.
Remember, the counsellor’s purpose isn’t to make your relationship rely on therapy. On the contrary, they want to help you rekindle the feelings you had when you entered the relationship and boost your interpersonal skills, so that you’re ready to face challenges alone.