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Online, or In Person, What Works Best?

Whilst writing this post I’ve had to resist the urge to call in person therapy ‘face-to-face’ because that also sums up exactly what video counselling is, albeit done via a screen. When working online I’m very much focussed on my client’s face and they can see mine too.

Regardless of what we call it, there’s considerable debate around whether online work is as effective as in person therapy, with passionate arguments on both sides. This debate has become all the more relevant now that so many counsellors have had to move their work online in the pandemic.

Personally I’ve been surprised how easily I was able to move my work online, and how it can feel at times as if I am in the same room as my clients. I also know that online work was more tiring for me initially, and demands different levels of concentration.

Working online has allowed me to continue to see existing clients even after they’ve moved out of my local area, and allows others to access therapy from home, making it easier to fit around working.

On the flip side I know that for many people, especially those in shared accommodation, it can feel difficult to talk about difficult topics from their own home and the privacy of a counselling room would feel much more secure.

There’s no escaping the fact either that being in a room with someone does feel different and some people prefer one over the other.

I’m looking to move my practice back towards in person work as we hopefully head out of lockdown, and I’ve been asking my clients for their preferences. It has come out at a pretty even split. Some prefer online, others are looking forward to meeting in person, and some are perfectly happy with either.

But as for the headline question of what’s most effective, a recent study has come out that suggests that working via video is just as effective for counselling as in person work. Perhaps then, it really is a matter of what is convenient and works best for each individual client (and counsellor).

I’m very much looking forward to having both as an option for my clients in the future.


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