Online (Virtual) Counselling: As Effective as In-Office Sessions?
Planning for and traveling to appointments can be such a hassle. Most of us have busy lives and packed schedules, so the time it takes up to book and travel to appointments often discourages us from making them. We know that the appointments are important but we can’t justify the time. You’ve likely seen an explosion of advertisements over recent years for virtually-delivered health services: online, through video, phone, and apps. Did you know that doctors and nurses aren’t the only ones providing these services? Psychologists and clinical counsellors are now also providing virtual counselling services.
All you need is a computer (desktop or laptop), a private space, and a good internet connection and you can have your therapy sessions from the comfort of your own home! Sounds easy, doesn’t it?
Is it the same experience and as effective as in-office appointments?
It’s easy to think there may be a cost that comes with the convenience of telehealth, but that’s not the case.
The clinicians you have the opportunity to work with are the same professionals, with the same level of education, that you’d work with if you were participating in in-office sessions. In some cases, the clinicians who are offering telehealth services are also offering in-office sessions depending on individual needs.
Furthermore, the research efficacy demonstrates that for the vast majority of presenting issues (e.g., work and relationship stress, anxiety, and mood disorders) the effectiveness of therapy services provided virtually are equal to – and in some cases even better than – traditional in-office delivery.
What the Research Says
A large 2016 survey funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) concluded that between 94 percent and 99 percent were “very satisfied” with virtually-delivered counselling services, and one-third of respondents actually preferred the telehealth experience to in-office.
Another study indicated that people who engaged in telehealth sessions were more likely to want to repeat their experience with a therapist than they were with an in-office care provider.
Furthermore, over 60% of millennials indicate they would like telehealth services to fully replace in-office visits, and indicate they would prefer the use of technology to supplement their experience.
These results are not surprising considering that millennials (who now make up the greatest portion of the workforce) are a generation that generally grew up with and are comfortable navigating computers and technology – and not only want but expect the convenience technology can afford.