Online Face to Face Vs Therapy In Person
As with face to face therapy, it is extremely important that you are comfortable with your therapist and confident that they can help you overcome the challenges you face. Your first session will help you to familiarise yourself with online counselling and let you assess wether your counsellor is best placed to help you with your issues.
It is also still important to highlight the differences between online face to face therapy compared to therapy in person so that you can know what to expect. Here are some of the key differences, the pros and cons and things you may want to consider:
Accessibility and Choice
You can face limited options for finding a therapist. You may require disabled access, a creche, someone local. You may have an anxiety disorder which makes you fearful of going out. Or you may need a therapist who has specific expertise, or who is trained in a particular type of therapy. If you live in a very rural community, or you are an expat living abroad, it might be almost impossible to find a local therapist who you don’t already have a social connection with. So an online therapist from outside their community is needed.
You might feel emotionally safer when you are in the same physical space as your counsellor. You can pick up all sorts of cues based on body language, smell, sounds from outside the room, etc.
One big reason people choose to work with a therapist online instead of face-to-face, is the convenience. You don’t have to spend time, money and effort getting to your therapist’s consulting room. There’s no worrying about finding a parking space, or your bus being late.
Regarding convenience there is barely a downside to be seen, except to say that some people might find that the time they spend travelling to and from their therapist is a much-needed ‘buffer’ time, an important part of their transition between different modes of being. At Milton Therapy clinic we will discuss with you how you may create space before and after sessions so that you still have this buffer.
If you’re worried about colleagues or friends asking ‘where are you going?’, or spotting you walking in to a counselling centre, you may appreciate the way that you can access online therapy from the privacy of your own space. With online video counselling, besides being alone in the room, the therapist may choose to use earphones or a headset, so you’re not going to be overheard by anyone else (on their end, at least).
If you live or work with other people, it may be hard to find a quiet place where you won’t be overheard or disturbed during your phone or video session. Accessing online counselling via text-based platforms might suit you better – or of course you may be best served by seeing a therapist face-to-face in their office.
It’s nice to be in your own space with your favourite items surrounding you during your therapy session. You can have your favourite drink beside you, and be reassured by the familiar view from your window.
If you’re at home during your online counselling session and perhaps talking through traumatic material, you might feel that it ‘lingers’ more at home. This is a good reason not to use your bedroom for online counselling.
People can feel that they can somehow ‘leave behind’ their most difficult feelings in their counsellor’s consulting room, for the therapist to hold, and contain until the following session.
Wind-down in Privacy
After a therapy session, many people can feel a sense of heightened sensitivity and emotional fragility. Leaving a therapist’s consulting room and heading straight out into busy streets and general hustle and bustle, can feel quite overwhelming. And if you’ve just had an intense and emotional session, you might not feel ready to expose yourself to the passing public. So an online session in the private venue of your choosing (such as your home) could be ideal and could even be followed by activities that soothe and calm you i.e meditating, having bath, reading your book, doing yoga or anything you choose.
If you live with a partner or family, it can be challenging to end your online counselling session and then instantly be plunged back into the demands and interactions of family life. We always suggest that you allow yourself at least five minutes to settle and transition before you reconnect with your family or housemates. However it might be better for you to have your session in your therapist’s office and then give yourself time to do a bit of processing, before you head back into the fray.
Traffic problems due to bad weather, accidents and road works or public transport issues can all be avoided with internet counselling that you can access from home or work.
Sometimes internet connections can be unreliable. For some people delays or gaps in transmission can affect their ability to properly engage with the therapeutic process. To avoid this we have devised ways to limit and prevent this happening however we always suggest having a phone to hand so that if for any reason the video link connection is lost our audio connection can be maintained.