Comparing Virtual and In-Person Therapy Options

Online therapy has recently emerged as a popular alternative to traditional in-person counseling. It’s no wonder, given that so many people are enduring pandemic-related stresses and social-distancing needs.

Maggie Young, president of SWEAP Connections (formerly Southwest EAP), recently shared with Little Rock Soirée magazine how online and in-person therapy compare.

Young says in “Pros and Cons: Virtual vs. In-Person Therapy” that any delivery method can be effective if the client is committed to their goals and works with a skilled counselor.

The first thing she wants you to know is, “What is more important than the method is the commitment.”

As a counselor herself, Young ranks the effectiveness of in-person appointments above virtual, with voice-only telephone in third place.

“The biggest pro for in-person therapy is you plan for it differently. You are disconnecting from your regular schedule,” she says. Even a 10- or 15-minute drive to the therapist’s office can give the client the opportunity to refocus from daily demands to the goals of therapy.

SWEAP Connections, like many other providers, offered online and telephone counseling before the pandemic began in 2020, but few clients chose those methods. 

Now, many are choosing it even when in-person sessions are readily available.

Here are Young’s pros and cons for each method:

In-Person

Pros:

Cons:

Time spent traveling to and from appointments.

Time lost on calendar blocking for travel.

Online/Telephonic

Pros:

Cons:

And what about therapy via text?

“Text is some people’s preferred method,” Young says. “Having barrier-free options, if for nothing else than to get started, is great. But you do lose factors that can be helpful if you strip it down to telephone or text.”

The big virtual therapy networks that advertise heavily also have pros and cons, Young says. On one hand, they employ counselors who are duly licensed in the client’s home state, and they offer all the conveniences of online therapy. On the other hand, they are generally subscription services, so there’s a weekly fee whether you use the service or not.

Employee assistance programs are here to help you make it through these tough times. SWEAP Connections offers mental health services as part of a large overall package for companies. Counseling — like all of our services — are provided to the companies’ employees at no cost. 

If you are considering therapy options, please reach out to SWEAP Connections for a consultation. Call 501-663-1797 or 1-800-777-1797, email [email protected], or use our contact form.