Can online marriage coaching be an effective alternative to in-person marriage coaching? Part 1
- July 22, 2023
- Posted by: Marcel Sanchez
- Category: Building a Healthy Marriage
You’re marriage was designed to grow. And with the help of modern technology, your marriage can now grow in new ways.
How people learn and grow has changed significantly over the last five years. Online learning and coaching has accelerated since 2020 and shows no signs of slowing down.
New learning methodologies have been infused into today’s workforce. Educational institutions and government entities continue to hire professional coaches and shift to online learning platforms.
They do this to stay current with the rapidly changing needs of their people and to maximize learning flexibility.
How has online learning helped you grow as a professional? How can online learning serve to help your marriage thrive?
The next few research-based articles will serve to build a case for online marriage coaching and how it can serve as a viable alternative to in-person marriage coaching.
The rise of emerging modalities
What do churches, government entities, businesses, and educational institutions have in common since the start of Covid-19? All four of these groups have accelerated their use of technologies such as live streaming, learning management platforms, group video meetings, and one-on-one video meetings. Regardless of how these groups felt about change or technology, they had no choice, but to change and adjust to their new realities.
We saw the evidence of this rapid change as these groups immersed themselves—literally overnight—to maximize technology as quickly as possible. These industries—when participating in leadership and training conferences—adapted breakout sessions to teach participants how to maximize these technologies to increase employee engagement, leadership training, member assimilation, and productivity.
Industries such as construction, legal, logistics, insurance, healthcare, training, and counseling have also experienced increased use of these emerging modalities. Although not always easily accepted by the masses, travel restrictions and preventative health measures have all contributed to the rise of these new modalities to accomplish important meetings, training workshops, and critical tasks. Leading video platforms such as Zoom, Teams, and WebEx have flourished because of this new digital demand.
Although a certain measure of debate remains in some circles, good arguments for online psychotherapy for example, were more access to psychotherapy and increased availability; (2) improved communication; (3) patient/client benefits; (4) ease of use, client acceptant and financial cost-savings. (Julia Stoll, Jonas A. Müller, and Manuel Trachsel, “Ethical Issues in Online Psychotherapy: A Narrative Review,” Frontiers in Psychiatry 10 (2020): xx, doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00993.)
Working through initial apprehensions to online coaching is evolutionary, but one theory I propose—one that is supported by research—is the following, the more individuals and couples use video-based platforms and experience it personally, the more positive they perceive the medium to be. (J. R. Carlson, R. W. Zmud, “Channel expansion theory and experiential nature of media richness perceptions,” Academy of Management Journal; V. 42. Issue 2, (1999), pg. 6, doi:10.2307/257090)
As it relates to teachers and students in education, what’s exciting about online coaching is that it can mirror in-person coaching and assure good teacher to student interaction and consistency. (Mary Burns, “Can virtual coaching be an effective substitute for in-person coaching?” Education for All (blog), GPE: Transforming Education, April 12, 2021, https://www.globalpartnership.org/blog/can-virtual-coaching-be-effective-substitute-person-coaching.)
For the purposes of this research, we want to explore if online marriage coaching—using video-based technology—can be an effective alternative for in-person marriage coaching.
Both marriage counseling and marriage therapy have developed online over the years. These two areas flourished during the peak of Covid-19 using video-based technologies. Today, although some restrictions have been lifted—and new restrictions have started—video-based technologies continue to serve a significant need by helping individuals and couples work through mental health needs, marriage problems and other relational issues.
The world of coaching—which includes at the very least, coach certification training, group coaching, and one-to-one coaching—has also felt the impact of Covid-19 and the shift to increase video-based coaching practices. Coaching has experienced a significant transformation in methodologies while building unprecedented opportunities for scalability.
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. The process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity, and leadership.” (“What is Coaching?” International Coaching Federation, ICF.org, December 21, 2021, https://coachingfederation.org/about)
As I reflect on the evolution of coaching in my own life, words such as vision, mission, partnership, collaboration, synergy, clarity, alignment, stimulation, challenge, and movement have served to shed light into my area of focus and the long-term impact it could have on the lives of others. Since my area of expertise is marriage coaching, a simple coaching model has served me well throughout the last twelve years: Dream, Connect, and Build.
The Problem: Many busy business professionals want to improve their marriage but find it extremely difficult to take time out of their high-demand work schedules to work on their relationship.
Add unpredictable traffic, dinner preparations, exercise, social commitments, and homework with the kids to their schedules, life becomes very exhausting. Oftentimes, a short window of time—about thirty minutes at the end of the day—is all that’s left before these couple’s head to bed.
One of the most respected training organizations in the world, The Ken Blanchard Companies® revealed interesting research in their 2022 HR/L&D Trends Survey. Eight hundred participants were asked to identify the single largest problem their teams faced designing learning experiences for a hybrid work environment. Three key themes surfaced: First – People are overloaded, tired, and “too busy to learn”; Second – Level of connection is dropping; Third – L&D stretched and dissatisfied with converted offerings. (Ken Blanchard, 2022 Trends: Learning and Development in a Hybrid World (Escondido: The Ken Blanchard Companies, 2021), page 2-7. https://resources.kenblanchard.com/ebooks/2022-trends-report)
With these things in mind—and the pace of life accelerating rather than decelerating—it only makes sense to adjust our desire to help married couples build thriving marriages around their availability if the willingness to be coached is present and ready for action.
This same group of busy business executives was asked about their work characteristics, “What would make your digital/virtual designs better?” Those that responded indicated: Higher-quality learning experience, 34%; More L&D resources, 17%; and more digitally competent learners and trainers, 17%. (Blanchard, 2022 Trends, 10-13.) These busy professionals wanted more rather than less, but they wanted more of the right tools for their long-term success.
I find this to be true among many married couples. They not only want to grow their relationship, but they also want to find the best resources available to make stronger gains in less time. These couples want the best coaches. Why? Because they understand that good coaches will help them arrive at the best destination for their marriage relationship. Moreover, these couples want more on-demand tools that provide maximum flexibility without sacrificing quality.
But wait, there’s more. This same group of busy professionals was asked about how they would spend their time and money if given more learning and development resources. Once again, each response mirrors what we desire for every couple who commits to marriage coaching. When asked, 47% would convert their workshops into learning journeys and 39% would focus more on reinforcing learning and holding learners accountable. (Blanchard, 2022 Trends, 14-15.)
Can you see the parallels with marriage coaching? More than classes, workshops, and seminars, married couples want their coaches to collaborate and explore a new journey together. A “learning journey” may be the perfect phrase. Both the coach and the married couple learn to discover new possibilities for their relationship. A class is often dull and ends with an assignment. A journey on the other hand is often adventurous; it ends with hope.
Growing your marriage is a journey not an event. With online marriage coaching and training, you and your spouse can move your marriage forward.
You can make measurable progress from where you are to where you want your marriage to be. It won’t be easy and it will require a ton of work, energy, and resources, but it is certainly worth it.
Are you looking for helpful resources to grow your marriage?
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