Online counseling or telehealth or videoconference therapy, is similar but somewhat different from in-person appointments. In a non-COVID world, I recommend that at least the initial appointment be in-person if possible. In a COVID world, I respect whatever helps clients feel safe.
The advantages of being in-person can include the ability to better read body language, the ability to pass out handouts and worksheets, play games when appropriate, and in my opinion, it’s a slightly more personal experience (especially with couples).
But technology is pretty amazing. Using HIPAA compliant programs, sessions can be conducted online that are similar to an in-person experience. The screen can be shared when necessary to simulate giving out handouts for a more visual experience. The world is becoming more comfortable with programs like Zoom.
Some people prefer online counseling, as they feel more comfortable in their own homes. The ability to jump on an appointment at the starting time rather than driving to and from a site location can also be appealing. Those who have grown up with technology and are used to doing things online may prefer telehealth. Telehealth can just be more convenient. Telehealth can also not be the best choice for severe mental health conditions or those with an aversion to technology. Some have privacy concerns regarding telehealth.
So, there are pros and cons. I think in-person is the most effective, but telehealth can work well in certain situations and especially amidst a pandemic. For some clients, online counseling may be a better option, at least for now.
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