What Are the Differences Between Online and In-Person Therapy?

It’s tempting to think that online therapy is less helpful than in-person therapy. After all, meeting with a professional in person is always better than speaking to them through a screen, right? Well, not always.

In fact, not only does online therapy provide many of the same benefits as in-person therapy, but it can actually be more helpful, thanks primarily to its increased accessibility.

If you’re currently in the process of trying to decide whether you want to seek therapy online or in-person, below are 7 differences to consider before making your decision.

Online Therapy Is More Accessible

With traditional face-to-face therapy, you have to go to a physical location. This means that if something happens like you don’t have access to transportation or there’s terrible weather, you have major obstacles in accessing your therapy.

Online therapy, on the other hand, can be done from anywhere with an internet connection. This means being able to get therapy without even having to leave your home, not to mention being able to continue your therapy while traveling.

In-Person Therapy Is More Likely To Be Covered By Insurance

Currently, your insurance is more likely to cover in-office therapy than it is online therapy. While this is unfortunate, especially during a time where we’re asked to stay home, it remains the truth.

This is to say that if your insurance covers in-office therapy, it may be cheaper for you to receive therapy in-person rather than online. There is some nuance here, though, since it’s common for insurance plans to place a cap on the number of covered visits. So online therapy may end up being less expensive on a per session basis if you exceed your insurance plan’s cap for in-person visits.

You May Open Up More Easily Online

Think about how difficult it is to open up to your closest friends and family members. When you’re communicating face-to-face with someone, you’re taking in their reaction to what you’re saying, either intentionally or subconsciously, and using it to alter what you say.

Of course, therapists are trained to remain as neutral as possible, but you’re still taking into consideration their reactions, nonetheless.

When speaking to someone online, especially if you opt for audio-only sessions, you don’t have to worry about reactions at all. You can focus entirely on what you’re talking about. As a result, some people find it easier to discuss their feelings and thoughts more deeply through online therapy than through in-person therapy.

Plus, with online therapy, you can have the added benefit of being in the comfort of your own home — a factor which in itself could allow you to open up more easily.

In-Person Therapy Can Be More Reliably Secure

There are many online therapy services that are just as, if not more secure than in-person therapy. However, this doesn’t apply to all online services.

With online therapy, you have to do more research to ensure that the service you’re using is secure and safe to use. When looking for safe online therapy services, prioritize those that are HIPAA-compliant.

You Can Try Different Therapists More Easily Online

Trying out different therapists in person can be a long, drawn-out process, often requiring you to do your own research, travel to different offices, remain in sessions even after deciding it’s not a good fit, and so on.

With online therapy, you’re often automatically matched with a relevant therapist, based on your described needs, immediately upon signing up, without having to do any extra work. Plus, if you decide that it’s not a good fit, trying out a different therapist is as simple as pressing a button on your dashboard. Not only is this convenient, but it’s also more likely to ultimately result in you getting exactly the kind of therapist you need.

You Can Get Faster Answers Online

Generally speaking, you’re only able to communicate with your in-person therapist during your scheduled sessions. This means that if a pressing new question or concern comes up, you have to keep it in mind until your next session, which can result in lost or forgotten clarity.

With an online therapist, in addition to scheduled live sessions, you can also often send them messages throughout the day, to which they’ll reply within the same day. This means that if a question or concern comes up on your end that needs immediate attention, you can send your online therapist a message about it and potentially receive guidance in a matter of minutes.