Conflicts arise in all relationships, even in the best of times. For couples cohabitating during the coronavirus pandemic, those conflicts can become magnified.
Being stuck in the same space as your partner can introduce novel annoyances, like when you’re making a video-call for work and Fleetwood Mac comes blasting through the wall.
The crisis can also give rise to more serious stressors, such as cabin fever, financial pressure and fears about the virus itself. To deal with the added friction while maintaining social-distancing protocols, many couples are seeking help through online therapy services.
“When people are stuck in close quarters with each other and having issues with emotional regulation and anxiety, it’s a recipe for tension and interpersonal discord,” says Holly Daniels, managing director of clinical affairs for the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. “So therapists have been seeing an upswing in clients needing mental health support.”
In response to the growing need for telehealth services during the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has eased privacy regulations so healthcare providers can communicate with patients via platforms such as FaceTime, Facebook Messenger and Skype.
But conventional therapists often charge upward of $150 per hour, leading many couples to seek a cheaper alternative.
Fortunately, there are already apps and websites that offer marital counseling and couples therapy for lower rates than traditional, in-person sessions. And, because of the toll the COVID-19 crisis is taking on people’s minds and wallets, e-counseling sites such as Talkspace are offering special programs and discounted prices for their services.
Here are some relatively low-cost resources for couples seeking help with relationship issues:
Designed for individuals or couples, ReGain matches users with a licensed therapist with whom they can communicate via text, audio or video messaging. The platform, which is available as a mobile app, enables couples to write to their counselor through a joint account, or to schedule “live sessions” that they can attend together or individually.
One month of unlimited messages and weekly live sessions costs $65 per week, while a three-month subscription costs $45 a week.
In lieu of therapy, this app-based platform draws on decades of research and marriage studies to create hundreds of five-minute sessions “designed to give users the right tools for building a healthy relationship,” according to the Lasting website. Couples begin by taking a relationship health assessment, before diving into exercises that explore potential problem areas such as money, communication and conflict.
Available on Apple and Android devices, Lasting costs $15 per month and $80 for a yearly subscription.
Talkspace is a popular therapy platform that offers couples counseling for $99 per week. Following a consultation, the app connects users to a licensed therapist in their region. Couples can send unlimited text, audio and video messages to their therapist, with weekly video sessions available for an added fee.
The company recently discounted its services for new individual users and added a therapist-led program for coronavirus-related anxiety.
Founded in 2009, MDLIVE is a major telemedicine provider that offers counseling for a variety of problems, including relationship issues. Users can schedule phone or video appointments for $99 per session.
The company also offers psychiatric services, and its virtual visits are often covered by health insurance providers.
For couples looking for an inexpensive alternative to therapy, OurRelationship offers a self-help program that is available to qualifying couples for free as part of a federally funded study. What’s more, if you and your partner qualify for the study, you’ll each receive $75 in gift cards. Couples who don’t qualify can pay $50 to complete the program on their own.
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