It's a Guy Thing

Choosing a therapy: face to face or online

Psychotherapy is one of the most common treatments used to improve mental health and well-being, assist patients in overcoming personal problems, change damaging behavioural patterns and increase overall happiness and life satisfaction. Individuals dealing with mental and emotional difficulties often find therapy significantly helpful in diminishing negative or intrusive thoughts, troubling emotions and beliefs and reducing the incidence of toxic coping mechanisms or compulsions. Therapists can help people belonging to all demographics regardless of the troubles they’re experiencing, whether it’s school bullying or marital issues.

The world of therapy has been constantly changing, with one of the most noteworthy changes being the rise of online psychotherapy. While largely unknown pre-2020, the Covid pandemic has forced professionals within all fields to develop innovative digital solutions to reach out to their patients as they used to under normal circumstances. Telehealth rates became much higher during the days of the health crisis, and online therapy followed suit as well.

However, whether or not it is a preferable option compared to face-to-face therapy depends on the particular concerns of each individual. Choosing the correct type of therapy for you is particularly important as it determines the outcome of your treatment.

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Understanding face-to-face therapy 

Traditional in-person sessions 

Traditionally, therapy occurs during in-person sessions that can be either individual, with the psychotherapist and the patient, or in group therapy. The history of the practice dates back centuries ago, as philosophers, spiritual practitioners, and even regular people used some fundamental psychological methods to treat others. The importance of conversation and expressing one’s thoughts has been considered essential for inner well-being for the longest time.

However, modern psychotherapy is a relatively new phenomenon, dating back to the 19th century. Sigmund Freud is generally regarded as the first to lay the ground rules of a systematic approach to therapy. Known as psychoanalysis, Freud put forward several theories intending to find ways to treat emotional disorders. It places significant emphasis on early childhood development and its implication for the rest of an individual’s life, as well as the unconscious mind.

Today, a lot of psychoanalytical theory remains relevant owing to its dedication to understanding the unique mental and emotional mechanisms that enable a person to develop. Comprehending human beings, encouraging personal growth, offering emotional validation and a non-judgmental perspective and providing patients with the ability to deal with life’s challenges by uncovering their emotive potential remain some of the core aspects of modern psychology.

Advantages of face-to-face therapy 

Although the conventional approach dates back two centuries, that doesn’t mean it has become obsolete. Face-to-face therapy can offer some therapeutic approaches that are undeniably helpful. Personal interaction is crucial, as many patients find it easier to open up in someone else’s presence. You might find it simpler to follow your psychologist’s indications like this. Establishing a rapport with your therapist will make treatment more of a grounded experience and provide a solid foundation for the rest of the sessions.

Nonverbal communication is another vital aspect, as in-person conversations allow psychologists to analyse these cues and understand the patient’s needs even when they are unwilling or unable to open up verbally. The neutral location, taking you away from places you’re in daily, can increase your comfort level. It also helps remove any distractions from your environment that can impact your perception and the information you provide your therapist with.

Limitations and challenges 

Although there are many advantages to in-person therapy sessions, there are also several drawbacks. Accessibility is one of them, as getting to and from the therapist’s office can pose logistic challenges for some. The time spent arriving and going back home adds up, and for those running on a tight schedule, it can simply not be a feasible option.

Scheduling might also be challenging, depending on the number of chores and responsibilities you must attend to. When you already have a lot on your plate, squeezing in a therapy session in an already crowded timetable might contribute to additional stress instead of promoting relaxation. You may also not get all the therapeutic needs you require because you must cut sessions short to fit into the rest of your schedule, or you might be unable to concentrate since you can’t stop thinking of other things you must do. 

Lastly, the costs can be an issue for some, as in-person therapy can be more expensive than the online equivalent.

Exploring online therapy 

Evolution of online therapy 

The rising popularity of virtual therapy tools is primarily attributed to technological development. As time passed, technology started offering solutions for most issues and challenges people face. The healthcare sector is just one of them, yet it could be considered one of the most important. The rise of online therapy is part of the more considerable growth of telehealth, believed by many to be one of the most important changes in healthcare at the moment.

While the pandemic brought both to the limelight, the industry had already been developing before Covid, and experts estimate that it will continue to do so over the following years. If you believe online therapy is the better option, there are several options available. Olga Kyrychenko, an award-winning Gestalt psychologist and a resident practitioner at BestOnlineTherapy, a site dedicated to online counselling says you should let the opinion of experts guide your choice. 

Advantages of online therapy 

The flexibility and convenience offered by virtual therapy are second-to-none. Considering that digital solutions are so widespread, you can easily connect with your therapist via texting or email, regardless of the timing constraints. You can log in for a session whenever your schedule permits, so you don’t have to push other daily tasks aside to make room for therapy.

Virtual therapy also offers increased anonymity and privacy for those concerned about the possible stigma of visiting a therapist. You can remain anonymous throughout the treatment, and your therapy schedule remains unknown to everyone except you unless you choose to tell them. This aspect empowers many, allowing you to control your activities and share with others when you feel ready to.

You also have access to a broader range of therapists, as you don’t have to consider the physical distance. If you want to work with a therapist operating in a different city, country or region, you can do so without hassle.

Limitations and challenges 

The most notable issue with virtual therapy is possible technical issues. Since your sessions rely on the internet, bad connectivity means losing some sessions. This can be stressful for some people, so it’s important to discuss this aspect with your therapist beforehand to determine what you’ll do in such a situation.

The lack of personal connection can be daunting for some, and some patients find it more difficult to open up about their problems during online psychotherapy. The lack of in-person interactions and nonverbal communication can also feel highly restrictive for some.

Considering the problems many have faced regarding the safety of personal information over the internet, you might also feel apprehensive about divulging personal details through a digital medium and have reservations about how all this data is processed and who else has access to it.

Factors to consider when choosing a therapy format 

Personal preferences 

Personal preferences are essential when choosing the therapy format, as you should feel completely at ease throughout the sessions. Whether or not you’re comfortable with technology will also play a prominent role in your decision, as not being tech-savvy is more likely to make you worried about online therapy. If you know you’ll respond better to a conventional, face-to-face interaction and are more familiar with this approach, virtual treatment might not be for you. 

Logistical considerations

However, if logistical considerations are more important for you, the digital world will offer the best solutions. If you live in an area without many therapist offices, you can always reach out to a professional from another city. You also don’t have to worry about spending several hours driving or commuting for every appointment.

Financial factors 

While therapy takes your emotions into consideration, you must also evaluate the pragmatic aspects, such as the financial considerations. To make an informed decision, you need to consider insurance coverage and all other out-of-pocket expenses you’re likely to encounter, so you can guarantee you can afford the therapy.

Strategies for making an informed decision 

Research different therapy options 

Before settling on a therapy scheme, you must ensure you have sufficient time to analyse all possible options. Consulting reputable sources and reading the testimonials of other patients is the best way to form an objective opinion and ensure you find a therapist that has your best interest in mind so you can see progress from your sessions and start feeling much better.

Trial sessions 

If you only feel comfortable choosing a therapist after interacting with them, you can opt for trial sessions to decide whether or not a particular approach fits your perspective. The good news is that initial sessions are available for in-person therapy and through free online trials.

Seek guidance from professionals 

You don’t have to decide on your own, and you can request additional opinions before you choose. Ask for recommendations from friends or family members and speak directly to health experts and professionals. Their specialised advice can make settling on one option much easier.

In conclusion, several factors can influence your choice between in-person and online therapy, including location, finances, and comfort levels. The decision is ultimately up to you, and you should select one option based on your individual needs and expectations.