Technology offers us several alternative methods to the traditional, hour-long, face-to-face session in an office. Today, many practitioners offer their services by phone, video calls, email, and messaging apps. Here’s the key question many ask: can you really do therapy without being in the same place at the same time? Don’t you need to see facial expression and body language? Let’s be clear: online methods are not the same as face-to-face, and, thus, not the right approach for those who require that kind of contact and interaction. There will always be something powerful about a conversation held in person where you hear the tone, experience the delivery, and get a sense of the emotions behind the words. And stepping out of your life and into your appointment really helps a person focus in on themselves. At the same time, these tech methods of delivering therapy approximate the experience and have their own advantages. First of all, these are alternative methods of delivering psychotherapy. Same degree, techniques, approaches, relationship and trust building. One can do Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in-person, and by phone, on Skype, and through messaging. Second, phone and video call sessions are also distinct appointments in which a person is helped to focus in on themselves and their issues.
Moreover, there is a live experience of vocal tone, and with video there are facial and body expressions.
Here’s another key point: this is, actually, less of a comparison between in-person and online, and more of a comparison between online and nothing. Many clients choose online approaches because it’s more accessible or helps them avoid the travel and parking times. For others, there are no local therapists, or they want a therapist with a unique combination of factors, which they only found in a person a few states over. How about price? Online therapies are often lower priced, but not because clients get less treatment. As more and more people become comfortable obtaining all kinds of typically face-to-face services in an online format, the prices will likely even out. Many already charge the same online as in-person. For me, I charge less than in-person because I belive in making therapy accessible to the largest number of people possible. So, lack of travel time and affordability are among the advantages of therapy delivered online. Here are some more advantages to consider.
Video sessions often provide a unique snapshot into the home or work life of a client, in that the session occurs in that environment. Messaging and email therapy, where clients write as they want and typically receive 1-2 responses per day/5 days a week, offer a relief to those who struggle to pack all they want to say into 60 minutes.
In addition, messaging enables a client to reflect and share in the moment, as they experience an issue or struggle or event in their lives. And then there’s that freedom to share fully, openly, and honestly via written/typed word, that’s harder to do with live, spoken communication. Summary: online therapy is different methods of delivering the same therapy provided in face-to-face work. It does lack the full impact of sitting together, yet approximates it in many ways, and also offers several advantages. Still, it’s not for everyone.
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