Online therapy vs face to face counselling: Benefits and pitfalls
In recent months more and more people are wondering about how effective online counselling might be vs the ‘usual’ face to face approach.
The highlights, in an article reported by inc.com are that ‘despite the concerns, research consistently shows that online treatment can be very effective for many mental health issues’. You can find that article here. Their article details three studies which look at online counselling for depression, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.
In the last couple of months all of my counselling has either been online or by telephone due to the Coronavirus. Despite not knowing how that might turn out at the beginning, I’ve been really impressed by how well the process works. I’ve found that if I have good rapport with someone, that connection is present whether the contact is face to face, via a screen, or by telephone. So as I’ve discovered, it’s entirely possible to do deep therapeutic work via online therapy, and it’s by no means a poor substitute for face to face counselling. While I will never stop face to face counselling, the online process has worked so well that even when lockdown ends I will continue to have some of my practice online. The benefits and the pitfalls that I have discovered so far are some of the following:
- There are no geographical restrictions on our working together. Which means I can work with you wherever you are (providing you have a good internet connection). Since neither of us have to travel to be in contact there’s also no issues with missing or being late for an appointment, no being stuck in traffic, and none of the other practical hurdles that can unexpectedly arise in getting to face to face meetings. If you’re physically or emotionally restricted that in a way that makes face to face meetings difficult, this is also bypassed by online therapy. I can also be more available for outside of normal office hours appointments which often works if people are only free in the evenings.
- You’re in the privacy and comfort of your own home. This is often supportive when talking about things that trouble you since you have the time and space after the session to take care of yourself - you don’t need to worry about going straight back out into the world.
- From a financial perspective, it’s cheaper. I charge slightly less online than I do in person (£70 for 1.5 hour sessions, or £50 for 1 hour sessions)
- The number one pitfall I have found is a technical one: poor internet connection. I have fast broadband but if the connection at your end is very slow this is likely to influence the picture/sound quality and may cause the connection to drop out.
- Privacy: for some people their homes are private spaces, but for others homes are shared with partners/children/roommates. If you have the support of people you live with to give you privacy during the session, this is helpful.
If online counselling is something you’re curious about, and you have questions about the process, please feel free to get in contact