Which is more effective: online or face-to-face counselling? Perhaps a more useful question would be what kind of therapy – online counselling or face-to-face counselling – is better for my particular circumstances?
With the huge expansion of people using the digital environment to support their health and wellbeing, online counselling is increasing in popularity. Many digital natives, busy Millennials and retiring Baby-Boomers don’t want to be tied down to a specific therapy venue and find online counselling offers a more convenient, flexible way to access therapy. Improvements in digital connectivity has meant that online counselling can now effective support for many people who otherwise would not be able to access counselling.
So which kind of counselling to chose?
Firstly, let me make it clear that I think all counselling options – face-to-face, video & voice, email and instant messaging – can provide meaningful, human-centric support for clients. There are pros and cons for each way of working. However, the most important common denominator in all counselling – whatever medium it may be through – is the ability for the client and counsellor to form a trusting, confidential, therapeutic relationship.
The healing power of being physically ‘in’ a therapy room is very compelling. All sensory cues are more easily accessed to a trained, empathetic counsellor. The act of stepping into a room focused on therapy can provide immediate comfort for some clients and allow them to make the transition to a therapeutic conversation more swiftly.
What I think I love most about online counselling is its accessibility – it has opened up counselling as a therapeutic option for many more people. For some clients living in very rural areas being able to access face-to-face counselling can be very difficult. And for others, people with health conditions that make travel more difficult and individuals suffering from challenging anxieties like agoraphobia, online counselling allows them a way to access support that perhaps otherwise would not be possible.
the Anonymity possible in online therapy
Online counselling, in some forms, can provide greater anonymity. This sometimes helps individuals struggling with overwhelming emotions such as with shame to take the first step in to therapy. Some clients find they are able to express themselves more easily when not ‘in’ a room; with a number of people finding the written form helpful for self-reflection. Critically, whether the client remains anonymous or not, is the need for the counsellor to convey absolute acceptance of the client, with no judgement, is a key aspect of the therapeutic power of counselling.
pick ‘n’ mix your online and face-to-face counselling
I find real value in being able to offer my clients flexibility in the approach they use for counselling. A number of my regular face-to-face clients will make use of video or voice therapy sessions when they are travelling or on holiday, while some clients start in one medium – such as email – and transition to video or voice. The constant in all these mediums is the counsellor and the client and their ability to optimise each ‘space’ in the most therapeutic way.
If you have any questions about online or face-to-face counselling, or you would like to have an initial counselling session please contact me.