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Website Offers A New, Free Take On Couples Counseling

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - If you've ever considered relationship therapy but don't have the time, the money, or are too embarrassed to go see a counselor, there is a new kind of couples program you can do from the comfort of your own home.

It's a free online program sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

Laura Jansen and Gregory Hiss have done the program. Disagreements over simple chores used to ruin an entire day spent together.

"We were just bickering a lot and none of it was important but it seemed to be happening all the time just small stupid annoying things," said Jansen.

Like many couples, they became stuck in their arguments with no resolution.

"We're both kind of stubborn and competitive," said Hiss.

Click here to watch Natalia Zea's report.

"We both like to be right,"added Jansen.

So when they saw an advertisement in the newspaper for a research trial offering free online couples therapy they decided to check it out.

The website,, is the brainchild of two psychologists, including University of Miami professor Dr. Brian Doss.

Using a series of skits, animations, and interactive tools, the program delves into what Dr. Doss calls DEEP understanding. It's also the subject of his book, "Reconcilable Differences."

"D is for differences. Natural differences when we come together we are not same person, what initially attracted us but later on become problems," said Dr. Doss.

Add to that strong emotions and external stress from the outside, like work, Dr. Doss said it creates a pattern of communication that isn't always effective. That's where the DEEP tools come in.

"Once you know what's going on relationship, once you really have an understanding of it, usually people can kind of figure it out on their own," said Dr. Doss.

The online program helped Jansen and Hiss recognize when they were in a negative pattern, something that the program calls a tornado argument.

"We've called timeout a lot," said Hiss.

"We'll be like 'OK, wait a minute, this is just a tornado lets walk away and if in a half hour we think we still need to have this conversation we will, and we don't ever do," said Jansen.

They also appreciate the privacy of the program. They checked-in weekly with a program coach using Skype, but never had to leave the house.

"It was a safe way to discuss sensitive topics, because we knew that we were there to address that particular thing- we weren't going to get in a fight about it," said Hiss.

Being busy people, they were still able to go at their own pace. Hiss liked that part best.

"So you're able to fit it into your schedule when it really matters. I think it may have been more helpful because of the flexibility than if we had gone to a therapist," said Hiss.

Using what they learned from the program, they now go out of their way to help each other.

"What can you do for yourself to relieve your steps in life and what can you do for your partner to help them relieve their stress, so it gave us concrete next steps of things to do," said Jansen.

This helps keep the bickering to a minimum, and gives them more time to enjoy their lives together.

The program is part of a million dollar national research study. It is free and open to all types of couples.

To learn more about the program visit


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