- Recently, she had the opportunity to review a therapy service that offers couples counseling, both in person and virtually, which can be a helpful option for long-distance partners.
- Morin took the counseling sessions with one of her long-distance employees, and the therapist gave them both feedback on their communication styles, what was working, and what they could do differently.
- Morin says that coaching services can greatly help professional relationships, as long as both individuals are open to learning about it.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories .
Verywell , an online resource for health information, recently invited me to test and review every major online therapy website. I signed up for each service as if I were a person looking for help, and then I wrote a review about my experience.
Being a psychotherapist myself, I'm used to being on the "other side of the couch." This was my chance to be the patient and to gain first-hand experience of what it is like to receive virtual therapy services.
The project was a lot of fun, and I gained much insight into the benefits and limitations of online therapy.
One of the sites I reviewed was Regain where therapists provide couples counseling. Their specialty involves treating couples who aren't in the same location meaning they can receive therapy even when they aren't in the same room at the same time. This can be a much-needed service for situations where scheduling traditional face-to-face appointments is challenging, such as in cases where couples live in different cities or in relationships that include a partner who travels often.
How it worked
Justin Lewis/Getty Images
Unlike other sites where I was able to attend virtual therapy by myself, this time I needed a partner. So I requested that my employee participate by playing the role. We were free to make up any problems we wanted about our relationship. The goal was simply to learn how the website worked and to establish whether the therapist was effective so that I could write my review.
My employee and I were in different states, so it allowed us to test what it might be like for couples who don't live under the same roof. Regain assigned us a private "room" (similar to a forum) where we could leave messages for the therapist at any time. Our therapist could reply at any time, and all three of us had access to each other's messages.
Since our role was essentially to be "mystery shoppers," we decided to play the part of a couple who needed help with communication (one of the most common reasons couples go to counseling).
Initially, the endeavor started off as just another "journalistic assignment." We talked about ourselves as if we were a couple having problems. But about halfway through, we began talking about some of the real issues we had in our employer/employee relationship.
We'd been friends for a while, but working together was new. And our long-distance work together sometimes included miscommunication over projects, deadlines, and expectations.
As a therapist, however, I figured I was pretty good at communicating. I half expected our couples therapist to commend me on my awesome communication abilities.
Meanwhile, my employee said, "She's going to side with you."
But this wasn't the case.
Based on the information we provided, our therapist assigned us worksheets that we filled out individually. Then, she gave us feedback on our communication styles, what was working, and what we could do differently.
The therapist who still thought we were a couple pointed out that I was too passive sometimes. I didn't make my expectations clear. Then, when those expectations weren't met, I got frustrated. And this wasn't fair.
At first, I laughed it off after all, we were just playing the part of a dysfunctional couple. But then I realized the problems we were talking about were things that were actually happening.
When my employee said, "You don't always tell me what you want," he wasn't just playing a role. He was mirroring what was really happening in our employer/employee communication.
And while I didn't consciously start talking about the real communication problems we were experiencing, I too was often mimicking our real-life interactions.
That lightbulb moment made me take a closer look at how I gave directions and how I responded when my expectations weren't met. Our therapist was right. I needed to work on my communication.
I didn't want to seem "bossy," and because we were friends before we started working together, I was uncomfortable being "in charge" at times. Consequently, my expectations were often fuzzy and I presented deadlines to be more like apologetic suggestions.
I'd never had an employee before. I'd been a self-employed author, speaker, and coach for five years, so I was used to working on my own. Adding someone to my team required me to do some extra work in the communication department. But it was a good investment since he could split the workload with me and free up a lot of time in my schedule.
How couples therapy improved our interactions
Since attending "couples therapy" together, our communication has become better. I'm working on giving instructions more clearly, and I announce deadlines in advance.
Meanwhile, my employee has made some changes too. He asks questions when he doesn't understand. And he communicates about what he's working on and when he thinks he can have it done.
So while we never intended our "couples therapy" to improve our work together, speaking to a therapist actually did help. A few simple changes to the way we communicate have made both of us happier. And hopefully, my employee will stick around longer and be happier at his job.
The experience of being on the other side of the couch made me wonder more about the different "types of therapy" that can be helpful. We have family therapy and couples therapy, but no one seems to offer help for friends or business partners who want to figure out how to work together better.
While therapy probably isn't appropriate for most bosses and their employees, coaching services might be if both individuals are open to learning about it.
Sometimes, there are certain people or personalities that cause us to struggle in one area or another. So even if you don't have problems communicating with friends or family, you might find that a colleague or co-worker presents specific difficulties for you. Perhaps a coach could help you learn more about yourself and the steps you can take to work more effectively together.
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