Online Couples Therapy

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Erban, LMFT, IMH-E
Updated May 23, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Couples counseling is an option for many couple looking to work through their relationship conflicts. It is often pursued when specific issues have become repetitive or feel too challenging to work through alone. Many modern couples encounter roadblocks in their relationships and don't know where to turn next, but couples counseling can help. 

For some, online couples counseling or therapy becomes a treatment option. For some, online therapy becomes a treatment option. With online therapy, it's convenient to connect with a licensed therapist from the comfort of your own home. This helps to address any anxiety or concern that comes with visiting a physical office space. Most patients find it easier to forget they are talking to an expert and feel more comfortable when they're in control of their environment, which can make it easier to work on their romantic relationships.

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Why people may seek counseling online

Couples may seek a therapist online for a variety of reasons. For some, traditional therapy may not fit into their busy life. For others, online counseling is the most affordable choice, as couples therapy can be expensive in some cases.


Convenience is often a quality of online therapy practices. In traditional therapy, you might wait weeks or months for a few sessions with an in-office licensed professional therapist. Busy couples may arrange for online therapy sessions at the times that best suit their lifestyles. They might schedule late-night or early-morning sessions or meet with a marriage therapist on the weekend. 

Another advantage of online therapy is the ability to connect with someone who is a good fit for your needs. For example, if you’re dealing with depression, grief, or other mental health concerns, a therapist with expertise in those areas would likely provide better support than someone who has not received that kind of training. Furthermore, some providers offer free chat rooms and other resources, such as videos and training materials, to help you make the most of your experience.


Individuals and couples often seek alternatives to counseling services provided by public health-based services that may require a lengthy application process, a mental health disorder diagnosis, extended wait times for services, or a lower standard of care. 

Online relationship therapy clients may value the personalized one-on-one attention and emotional support that taking part in online therapy can provide. They may opt for virtual messaging, where they can contact their therapist via an online app or SMS. This allows them to receive the benefits of a timely and tailored response based on their individual needs.

Ease of transition 

Attending couples therapy online may allow an easy transition to in-person therapy sessions for those struggling with severe mental health challenges. Suppose one or both partners are experiencing a mental health condition. Always consult your doctor, psychiatrist, or primary care physician before considering any medication options for mental health conditions.

Ease of use

Over 4.5 billion individuals worldwide used social media in 2022. With more people online, the internet has become a resource for many to live, work, and study. For this reason, many married couples and individuals feel most comfortable on an online platform. They might understand the mechanics and appreciate the comfort of having multiple teletherapy options, like chat messaging or live video and phone calls.

How support services work 

Using online therapy is an excellent way to use mental health care services. It allows individuals to create an account and connect with a professional counselor or therapist from a group of hundreds or even thousands of mental health professionals who can provide couples or marriage counseling services.

When individuals participate in therapy online, they may log in via laptop, desktop, tablet, or mobile device. Some platforms offer counseling and therapy services through a downloadable app. Other online platforms might require users to log in directly to their sites. 

The standard options for online relationship counseling services include the following:

  • Audio/phone calls 
  • Video calling 
  • Chat or SMS messaging 

While many platforms may not offer free sessions of online therapy or free marriage counseling online, many offer sliding-scale therapy and financial aid to offset the online therapy cost. If you’re looking for free online couples therapy, you may find some applicable resources, but it’s generally less likely they’ll be led by licensed mental health professionals. However, free online articles and forums may still be helpful.

Chat or SMS therapy 

SMS messaging therapy is a modern method of online therapy. Clients might schedule a time with their marriage counselor, and then the clients and therapist can send messages back and forth for a particular time or until a resolution is reached.

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Video or phone therapy

These sessions may work like traditional talk therapy, but you and your therapist will be talking at a distance.  Many people find live counseling sessions via video or phone helpful for recovery and understanding the matter that needs to be addressed.

The online therapy process 

Online therapy can allow you to connect with a counselor that fits your schedule. For example, you may find that your online therapist is a night owl, and you might enjoy therapy at night.  

The flexibility of the online therapy process can be valuable regarding communication, professional support, treatment plans, and understanding. The variety of available therapists, counselors, and relationship experts online is often wide, so you may quickly find an effective match for you and your partner. 

When couples attend online sessions together, they may look for a comfortable spot in their home where they can connect with their therapist via their chosen method for the specified length of their session. Online video chat sessions often last nearly the same time as an in-person appointment, which could be from 30 minutes to an hour or more. They should generally be ready for some emotionally-focused conversations and in-depth discussions about any important relationship challenges they’re experiencing.

Busy couples may choose to plan and schedule sessions in increments that work for them. For example, if a 15-minute therapy session on a work break sounds beneficial, it could be possible. Online therapy options are often customizable. Couples may also save time by cutting out a commute to an in-person office. 

Marriage or relationship therapy hotlines

While it may be difficult to find free counseling for couples, there are several completely free relationship hotline services available online. Couples in crisis or seeking free relationship advice may find relationship experts, advocates, and counselors through these services. They provide a community of trained volunteer listeners who share their perspectives, experience, and advice. Often, hotlines are meant for crisis or temporary care, and you may be referred to a counselor or long-term solution in your area after ending the call or chat.

A few relationship hotlines include: 

  • Love Is Respect: Dating hotline for teens, young adults, and their families, available at 1-866-331-9474 or through an online chat 
  • OneLove: Free texting line for those facing relationship struggles, abuse, or unhealthy dynamics, available by texting LOVEIS to 22522 
  • The Domestic Violence Hotline: A crisis support line for individuals going through domestic violence or abuse, available by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) 

Volunteer listeners are often available to help couples in crisis temporarily when relationship issues occur. 

Affordable relationship therapy options

Mental health counseling platforms may offer affordable paid counseling options with licensed and experienced therapists, counselors, and social workers. These sites often verify that all therapists and counselors who work on the platform are licensed, certified, and possess post-secondary degrees. They are often experts in the field, with over 1000 hours of clinical practice in their area of study.Affordable relationship counseling services online can start at around $35.00 per session for some platforms. Other popular online counseling platforms may cost $40.00-$90 per session. In some cases, subscription-based online counseling platforms may offer free introductory sessions or coupons to make trying therapy more affordable.

Free vs. subscription-based online counseling

There are a few differences between free and subscription-based options for couples. 

Free couples therapy online 

When couples search for free relationship counseling services, they may find relationship coaching sites or temporary hotlines that provide limited services. Additionally, couples may use group chats, online forums, and web articles to gain advice. 

Free services often have a limit to the amount of advocacy and support that they can provide. They might not hire licensed counselors, and there could be harmful advice if someone is not trained. 

If couples find that free relationship counseling services are no longer meeting their needs as they grow and develop, they may choose to move on to subscription-based or sliding-fee-based online therapy services.

Subscription-based relationship counseling services

Today's subscription-based counseling services offer many an equal opportunity to take part in counseling with degreed professionals at an often more affordable rate.

Although these services do have a cost, you may be able to work out a plan that fits your budget, and many services offer a sliding-scale or financial aid option for those who struggle with the cost. 

Marriage counseling options 

If you're ready to gain support from an online therapist, consider signing up for a platform like BetterHelp for individuals or Regain for couples. Studies have shown that online counseling is as effective as in-person therapy for treating mental health conditions and symptoms. 

In the studies, couples found online therapy more productive because they could focus on their issues more intently. They also experienced a sense of less judgment overall. You may feel judged while talking to your friends or family about your relationship. Online therapy can allow you to receive unbiased advice from a location that feels safe to you. An online therapist may also be able to diagnose or treat any mental health disorders that could be causing friction in your relationship.

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Counselor reviews

“My counselor is Doctor Nena Kircher. I want to say this in a way that you'll believe me, because as a dude, therapy sucked to get into. I want to give you the extra push to try this app. I've seen 4 other therapists before trying BetterHelp, none of which really took the time to understand what I was saying, they just wanted to jump in the middle. What I mean is, as an emotionally stunted person, I didn't have words to describe my inner life. None. It was like a separate language that I'd never even heard. They were trying to get me to open up to them when I didn't even know where the door was. Kircher was my second BetterHelp therapist, and I literally told my wife that if she didn't work than I wasn't going to do therapy at all. Kircher stayed simple for me, she gave me worksheets, and she was more interested in listening than solving. Which is exactly what I needed. I legitimately cannot day enough about this platform, and about my therapist specifically. Also, if you need to change therapists, do it.”

“Cameron has helped me navigate some incredibly challenging things within my relationship. With his help I’ve developed confidence to be a more assertive person. Therapy had helped me understand myself and my partner much better, in addition to implementing practices and taking action to improve a situation whereas I otherwise may feel stuck or hopeless. I really loved that he took the time to get to know me and my history before trying to “tell me what to do.” I feel like he really understands how my mind operates and therefore can give great, valuable advice, in addition to being a comforting sounding board.”


Today's couples may seek free online relationship counseling for various reasons. Online therapy can be a powerful tool for handling life's stressors, either individually or in a relationship. While it may be difficult to find free counseling, you might consider contacting an online counselor if you're ready to reach out for support.

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