In-Person Therapy Vs. Virtual Therapy: What Are The Pros And Cons?
Traditionally, therapy has taken place face-to-face in the therapist's office, but since the pandemic, virtual therapy has gained in popularity with many continuing to choose virtual sessions over in-person ones, despite in-person counselling services being readily available. While both forms of therapy are equally effective, you may be better suited for one than the other depending on your needs. If you're unsure what format is best for you, then keep reading as we discuss the pros and cons of in-person and virtual therapy!
The Pros and Cons of In-Person vs. Virtual Therapy
As we mentioned, both types of therapy are effective so you don't have to worry about compromising quality or potential benefits when deciding if in-person or virtual therapy is right for you. That said, everyone is different so you may uniquely benefit from one type over the other depending on your specific needs.
Whether you are looking for individual, couples or family counselling, both in-person and virtual options are available, so let's unpack the major pros and cons of in-person vs virtual therapy to help you make the best decision in starting your therapy journey!
Benefits of In-Person Therapy
In-person therapy has been the standard and most popular type of therapy for a number of years and has various advantages. One of the most significant benefits of in-person therapy is the opportunity for face-to-face interaction. It allows clients to meet with their therapists in a comfortable and confidential setting, where they can engage in meaningful discussion and work through their issues in a personal and intimate way. The physical presence of a therapist can help create a sense of safety and security for clients.
In-person therapy also provides the opportunity for nonverbal communication, such as body language and facial expressions, which can give therapists a more comprehensive understanding of their clients and better insight into how they may be feeling. It also helps clients feel more connected being able to see the empathy on their therapist's face.
Further, the physical setting of in-person therapy may be beneficial for people who struggle with attention and focus, such as those with ADHD, as there are less distractions in the therapist's office and the therapist can help them stay present and attuned.
It can also help establish a sense of accountability, as clients know they are meeting with someone in person and are more likely to show up on time and be fully engaged. This helps promote valuable skills needed in life and can help those who struggle with anxiety, depression, time management, self-esteem or relationships improve their symptoms.
Drawbacks Of In-Person Therapy
While in-person therapy has some wonderful benefits for clients, there are also a few drawbacks. One of the major disadvantages is the inconvenience of having to travel to and from appointments. This can be especially challenging for individuals who live in remote areas or who have mobility issues. Additionally, in-person therapy can be more expensive than virtual therapy in the sense that clients may need to pay for transportation costs, parking, and other related expenses. This can cause difficulties and stress for those who have financial limitations.
Another potential drawback of in-person therapy is the limited availability of therapists for this form of therapy, which can make it difficult for clients to schedule appointments that work for them. Additionally, in-person therapists may simply not be available in particular locations, such as rural areas, leaving clients with few options to choose from. In-person therapists may also have waiting lists due to their popularity, which can make it difficult for individuals to receive the care they need in a timely fashion.
Benefits Of Virtual Therapy
Virtual or online therapy is conducted remotely using tools such as video calls, phone, and even asynchronous messaging. It is likely no surprise that the major benefit of virtual therapy is convenience. Virtual therapy sessions can be conducted from the comfort of a client's own home, eliminating the need for travel and saving time and money. This can be especially helpful for individuals who live in remote areas, have financial limitations, have mobility issues, or live in areas with limited access to mental health resources, as they can still receive the care they need without having to leave their home.
Virtual therapy can also be a great starting point for those struggling with mental health disorders that make going to in-person therapy difficult such as agoraphobia, social anxiety, and depression.
Another benefit of virtual therapy is accessibility. With virtual therapy, clients can access a wider range of therapists and virtual therapy services from all over the world, giving them more options to find the therapist who is right for them.
Drawbacks Of Virtual Therapy
One of the major drawbacks of virtual therapy is the lack of physical presence. Without the physical presence of a therapist, clients may feel less connected or less safe, which can impact the therapeutic process.
Additionally, virtual therapy can limit various types of nonverbal communication, which can make it more difficult for therapists to completely understand their clients or spot subtle changes in a client’s behaviour.
Another potential drawback of virtual therapy is technical issues. Virtual therapy requires a reliable internet connection, and technical issues such as audio or video problems can disrupt the therapeutic process. This can be frustrating for both clients and therapists and can impact the quality of the therapy session.
Finally, one last potential drawback of virtual therapy is ethical issues. Since online therapy allows access to therapists from all over the world, clients may be working with someone in a completely different city, or even country. However, the laws, rules, regulations, and licensing requirements that govern therapy practices in different locations can be very different. Because these client-therapist relationships may be spanning between countries or cities, if any issues arise, it can be more difficult to address legal and ethical concerns effectively.
Both in-person and virtual therapy have their advantages and disadvantages, and the choice between the two will depend on individual preferences and circumstances. If you’re considering therapy, take the time to consider what you’re looking to accomplish, the concerns you want to address, and the benefits and drawbacks of each style of therapy. Start out with whatever form of therapy you feel most comfortable with. Remember, initially choosing virtual or in-person therapy doesn’t mean that you can’t change your mind later; you can always find a new therapist or switch forms of therapy at any time. So consider your needs carefully and take that first step towards improved mental health!
If you’re looking for a new therapist or are considering starting therapy, we’re here to help! Our team of Barrie mental health therapists provide both virtual as well as in-person counselling services in Barrie. Please contact us for more information or to book your free 15 minute consultation. Let us help you to feel like yourself again!
Our team of online and in-person counsellors and psychotherapists in Barrie provide quality and effective mental health counselling services near you in Barrie and virtually across Ontario to individuals (6+), couples and families. We also offer an Affordable Therapy Program that provides counselling services in Barrie to individuals (12+) who are facing financial challenges that need mental health support.