Online versus in-person therapy

I think initially many people were disappointed when therapists tended towards remote work during the pandemic. It defiled the general expectation of what therapy would be: sitting, with your therapist, speaking loudly and openly, without shame or feeling overheard by your family. And to start with, I think this is what people lacked. 

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What happened next though, I believe, has reshaped therapy for the long term, and that is: we got good at working from home! I think our expectations of many things changed around this time, despite the initial uncertainty and discomfort. GPs shifted to telephone consultations, the e-commerce industry boomed and we all family Zoom quizzes became the norm (although thankfully these have died back a bit!).

We learned that we could get a lto of our lengthy life admin projects done without ever leaving the home, and for the main part, people report that this has lessened their load generally. Therapy, as I see it, is no different. 

So, what are the benefits and why are so many therapists clinging to their new found bedroom/ therapy rooms? 

Saving on cost

One thing is cost. Therapy rooms often cost around £10p/h and this additional fee is absorbed by the client. With this reduction in overheads many therapists are able to charge less for their  services or at least, not put their prices up with inflation (perhaps more needed now than ever). 

Commuter time

When I use to have an office, I cannot tell you how many people were late to their sessions. And being a busy therapist, there often isn’t really room for this. If you were late, we still had to finish at the pre-agreed time meaning you were charged more for less time. Lateness is often unavoidable as well. #It was buses, meetings running over, kids playing up. They had no choice but to arrive 5 minutes late. They would arrive flustered and wind swept and would need a further 10 minutes of their session just to get their head in the game, by which time the clock was almost half run down. It wasn’t as satisfying for either of us and the general experience of therapy was somewhat marred. 

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Therapist capacity and waiting lists

On the other side of the coin, it actually takes a lot of the mental load off us therapists as well. This means two things. One: We are more available for you. We have more energy and focus; we’ve spent less time on admin and are all the better because of it. And two, we can therefore see more clients in a given day and can finally get to the bottom of those pesky waiting lists. 

I have sought therapy many times myself and dread hearing. After all the effort that’s gone into finding my perfect therapist: “We’re a little booked up at the minute and we’ll call you in 6 weeks”. GAAAAH. There’s truly nothing more demoralising when you’re at your lowest ebb. With less pressure on therapists (which online work allows for), we can see you faster and you can begin accessing the help so much sooner. I feel this system works better  for everyone. 

This said…

Despite its many advantages, I think a lot of therapists do still miss face-to-face work. There is something special about greeting your client in your office with your lovely books on display each with a hot coffee. If the client really cannot speak openly in their home, what other sanctuaries are there for them to safely have therapy? Face-to-face will always be required if we’re going to do our jobs properly and fairly for everyone. 

Closing statement

My advice to people is: try online. I have done it now for 3 years and have yielded just as good results for clients (if not better). We save costs, we can see more clients, we eliminate travel times. Overall, these are seen as good things for our clients. If this doesn’t work for you (Wifi issues, children needing attention, thin walls/ nosey neighbours) then by all means reach out for face-to-face and I’m sure, if possible, we’ll find someway to squeeze you in 🙂 .

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