You can find just about anything online these days, what about free online marriage counseling? There are no shortages of articles, forums, advice columns and chats to read and participate in. While there is a lot of great information to be found, there’s also much misinformation from folks who have no place giving it out. So how do you separate the good, bad and the ugly?
Focus on marriage education programs, these kinds of programs offer real, practical skills for making changes in your relationship. Look for articles written by professionals associated with the program to give you a sense for whether or not they are reputable, trained and can teach you something. Marriage education programs often offer some amount of material for free and then if you want to continue you can pay a small fee.
Understand that the most important thing you can do to fix a relationship is to fix yourself. There is a “fundamental law of relational theory” according to Psychiatrist Marina Benjamin “that when any part of a system changes, the entire system will be forced to change.” What this means is that the more you are able to effect positive change on yourself, the more your relationship will move in that direction. Marriage education programs are perfect for situations where one spouse is interested in working and the other is resistant.
Free online marriage counseling often comes in the form of a free access to materials for a short amount of time or excerpts from CD and DVD collections available for sale. So while “free” may be in the title, it is very rare to find any good solid information that will truly help you make progress in your relationship for free! A recent news story from CBS NY looked at the various programs out there and discussed the benefits and challenges of online relationship counseling.
Here is an excerpt from a recent article written by Dr. Susan Heitler, the author of The Power of Two Book and workbook that forms the basis for Power of Two Online discussing the possibilities and pitfalls…
What is the difference between marriage counseling and marriage education?
PowerOfTwoMarriage.com does not offer marriage counseling or therapy. That is, it does not help couples to explore deeper issues, discover the role of childhood experiences in current difficulties, or even guide them through to resolution of specific current issues that have been breeding tensions.
What it and other marriage education programs do offer is skill-training. When couples learn to talk collaboratively, they can cease having arguments and can resolve their differences cooperatively.
Unlike marriage therapy, marriage ed turns out to be relatively easy to package for online access. The convenience consequently becomes unbeatable. It’s available online 24/7, with zero travel time to get there or back. The price is right also. PowerOfTwo for instance offers a wide variety of fun learning activities, email access to a real-person coach, and a full span of topics: what to do with anger, how to make win-win decisions instead one person dominating, and how-to’s for more harmonious living—all for $18 a month, which is probably less than the cost per month of one evening out.
So while marriage counseling over the internet still is not an option, marriage ed can enable motivated spouses to make the leap from a marriage that’s an endurance test to a truly gratifying love relationship.
How effective is online marriage coaching?
Very. A research study of the outcomes of an early prototype of poweroftwomarriage.com yielded significant improvements in couples’ abilities to enjoy their relationship with fewer fights and more satisfaction.
Studies on the impacts of other marriage ed programs such as the ones described in the CBS TV report have obtained similarly impressive results.
Read the full article here.
The bottom line is while it is rare to find free online marriage counseling that is worth it weight in salt, there is a lot to be gained by accessing online education programs for a fraction of the price of traditional therapy.