Online Therapy Vs. Face-to-Face: Which is Best for You?

In today’s ever-evolving world, more services are moving towards fully realized telecommuting options, especially in New York. Therapy is no exception. Some counselors and therapists are moving towards providing their patients with the possibility of digital services, including sessions via video chat. Therapy from the comfort of your living room? What could be better, right? However, there are still many patients that would benefit from in-person sessions. If you’re on the fence between the two, here’s what you should keep in mind.

The benefits and drawbacks of online therapy

There’s no denying one of the primary benefits of online therapy: It’s convenient. Instead of taking a subway and then hopping on a bus transfer for a 40-minute commute to a therapist’s office, you can show up right on schedule while reclaiming massive amounts of your time. Since you’re attending from your own home, you’re likely to get more favorable scheduling options, as well, which makes it easier to commit to a regimen.

Online therapy is also proving to be quite affordable. In New York City, frugality is a must, even when it comes to healthcare. Luckily, most states require insurance agencies to cover online therapy sessions, including New York. This means that the convenience of digital sessions isn’t coming at any added costs. Even if you’re not currently covered by health insurance, someonline therapists offer affordable care options to make seeking mental health assistance less of a financial strain.

One potential drawback comes in the form of privacy concerns. It seems like every other day, the news is blasting headlines about the latest data or confidentiality breach. With growing questions about the privacy of technology, it can be hard to be as confident and transparent in an online session, especially if you don’t consider yourself particularly tech-savvy.

When the video connection isn’t clear or just due to the limitation of video chat, it might be difficult for your therapist to fully grasp your experiences and how they are impacting you. That added level of interpersonal and therapeutic distance might translate into less and less attachment to therapy and the work that goes into it. So, factor into your decision-making how sharing deep information about yourself via an electronic medium might impact how you feel about the process of therapy.     

The pros and cons of in-person therapy

Certain types of therapy definitely benefit more from in-person sessions where the therapist can better assess your body language and expressions. In particular, cognitive behavioral therapy often benefits from a more intimate approach so your therapist is able to gain better clarity as to your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. However, this does not mean that CBT cannot be done via online therapy, just that it might not be quite as effective as face-to-face appointments would be.

More severe mental health issues are also difficult to adequately address through online therapy sessions. If you’re suffering from a severe mental health condition – or if you’re going through a particularly rough patch in your life –  that requires more direct and deliberate care, you might find that online therapy works well as a supplemental tool, but that it isn’t quite enough for you. That’s where traditional therapy can oftentimes shine over its digital counterpart.

A prominent drawback is the frequency of scheduling difficulties and insurance qualms for in-person therapists, especially throughout New York City. Say you find the perfect therapist and you’re ready to start sessions and get on the road to wellness. The only problem is, the therapist doesn’t take your insurance or might not have openings for several months. Do you hedge your bets and go with another therapist that you might not like as much or do you tough it out and try to power through your mental health problems by paying out of pocket?

The choice is yours

Ultimately, when it comes to therapy, it’s up to you to decide what does and doesn’t work for you. You may think the convenience and ease of logging into a digital session sounds great, but when you try it, it isn’t the right fit. Conversely, you could be excited about a more convenient approach to your mental health and realize that you prefer skipping the commute and having more freedom to schedule sessions at a time that works for you. Until you give therapy a try, there’s no telling what you will or won’t learn about yourself and your needs in the process.