31st January 2022

Remote Therapy vs Face-to-Face Therapy: What's right for me?

Online and telephone therapy have become popular choices for people wanting to access therapy services, especially since the onset of Covid. 
 
Remote therapy allows you to connect with a licenced counsellor or therapist via your laptop, tablet or smartphone, whereas in-person therapy takes place in the confidential setting of a therapists office. However the sessions are carried out, they should provide you with a safe space to talk about your feelings without judgement. 
 
If you are undecided about the right choice of therapy for you, here are a few things for you to consider. 
 
Access to service
 
Online or telephone therapy may be more convenient than face-to-face therapy as you won't have to travel to reach the therapist's office. This is helpful to those who don't have transportation, have a busy schedule, live too far away from the service or may be unable to leave their house due to medical reasons. 
 
A huge benefit is that if counselling for a particular issue is not available in your area, you can find a counsellor who provides remote therapy so you can receive the support you need. 
 
Effectiveness 
 
Research has shown that online therapy can be as effective as face-to-face therapy in supporting people with anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues, bereavement and couples counselling. 
 
A person meeting with their therapist online or over the phone may feel more comfortable than meeting in an unfamiliar office. So working together remotely may prove to be more effective for some people. 
 
Remote therapy is also known as ‘working at a distance’. This is important to consider as you aren’t in the physical presence of the therapist. This means the therapist won’t necessarily see your non-verbal communication, so the therapist will need to ask a few more questions to read reactions. The benefit of face-to-face counselling is that it is a more personal experience, and the boundary of a screen does not separate you. 
 
Technology 
 
Online counselling takes place via a secure online platform, and you can undertake your counselling sessions from the comfort of your own home. This is usually conducted through a video call. The disadvantage is that the technology or internet connection may fail, interrupting your session. 
 
Confidentiality and Privacy 
 
Keeping your information private is of utmost importance in therapy, but online therapy adds another layer of complexity. 
 
Online counselling should be carried out through secure and encrypted web platforms. Good practice should ensure that safeguards are put in place against electronic intrusion through encryption of data, adequate password protection and by making recommendations to clients about how to best protect their security. 
 
You will need a private and safe space to ensure confidentiality for online and phone counselling so that your session won’t be interrupted or overheard. 
 
How do I know if my therapist is qualified in online or telephone counselling? 
 
Take a look at the therapist’s website or the BACP directory to see the details for the training the counsellor has received. They should have training that is specific to online or telephone counselling. 
 
It is also a good idea to make sure the therapist is a member of an association with an accredited register such as the BACP, BABCP, UKCP or HCPC.