Teletherapy vs. In-Person Therapy: Advantages and Disadvantages

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Teletherapy refers to providing or participating in therapeutic services online. COVID-19 has been a catalyst for teletherapy, however, it’s been around for many years. In fact, studies have shown that online interventions can be just as effective as in-person.

Some people may participate in teletherapy exclusively, while others may prefer the in-person experience. In some cases, teletherapy can supplement in-person therapy, or vice versa. Each type has advantages and disadvantages. Learn about the differences between teletherapy and in-person therapy.

Benefits of In-Person Therapy

Here are some reasons that you may prefer in-person therapy:

  • Trust: The therapeutic relationship is based on trust, which can be harder to build online.
  • Focus: Some people have an easier time focusing in their therapist’s office where they can eliminate work and home distractions.
  • Insurance Coverage: Insurance providers are more likely to cover in-person therapy than online therapy. Regardless, it’s important to understand your insurance coverage and be aware of any out-of-pocket costs.
  • No Reliance on Technology: In-person therapy means you don’t have to worry about technology affecting your session.

It’s also important to keep in mind that some mental health disorders may not be able to be treated in a virtual setting. For new or complex symptoms, direct treatment is recommended.

Disadvantages of In-Person Therapy

These are some reasons that someone may not prefer in-person therapy.

  • Flexibility: In-person treatment is not as flexible or convenient as teletherapy. Scheduling an in-person session can be difficult if appointment availability is limited.
  • Time: Getting to an appointment can take up a significant amount of time when accounting for travel. Some people may not have this time, especially if appointments fall during work hours.
  • Stigma: Those who are hesitant to try therapy may be uncomfortable visiting an office.

Advantages of Online Therapy

Online therapy offers many advantages, such as:

  • Convenience: Attend therapy anytime, anywhere.
  • Accessibility: Teletherapy is ideal for those who can’t leave their homes or who live in remote areas where quality treatment is hard to find.
  • Cost: Online therapy can eliminate related costs of treatment, such as travel or childcare.
  • Reduced stigma: People can participate in therapy at home, where they may feel more comfortable discussing their mental health concerns.

Convenience and accessibility are two reasons that many choose teletherapy. With a phone, it’s easy to participate in treatment no matter where you are. If you are out of town, you don’t have to miss your session. You can still talk with your therapist.

Teletherapy also makes it possible for people to continue therapy, whether they are quarantined due to COVID-19, unable to leave home, or live in an area where treatment services are limited.

Online counseling also enables people to see clinicians that don’t live within driving distance. Licensing laws vary among states, but in most cases, you can receive therapy from a provider who is licensed in the state you live in.

Disadvantages of Online Therapy

While there are many advantages, there are some reasons that people may not want to participate in online therapy:

  • Cost: Online sessions are generally the same as in-person sessions. Additionally, insurance providers may not cover online treatment. Check with your insurance provider.
  • Privacy: Teletherapy is held to the same HIPAA standards as in-person therapy, but understandably, people may have concerns about sharing information online.
  • Technology: A bad internet signal or poor phone reception can hinder the therapeutic experience.
  • Distractions: It can be harder to focus and eliminate at-home distractions.

Preparedness can help eliminate some of the disadvantages of online therapy. Follow these tips to get the most out of your teletherapy session.

In addition, ask your treatment provider if the platforms they use are HIPAA-compliant. Pyramid Healthcare uses BlueJeans, a secure, HIPAA-compliant video conferencing platform.

Pyramid Healthcare offers therapy for substance use and mental health disorders. In response to COVID-19, we are leveraging teletherapy services. Get answers to frequently asked questions and find out how you can start teletherapy through Pyramid Healthcare.

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