What is it like to have Online Counselling and Psychotherapy?

09 - May - 2020

Some people have always preferred telephone or online counselling / psychotherapy, whilst for people having in-person / face to face therapy the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and the lockdown has meant moving therapy online. 

In this article we look at the differences between in-person / face to face and online therapy and give a first hand account of the experience from someone who, having had years of experience of face to therapy therapy, has now been having psychotherapy online.

Online counselling and psychotherapy removes the need for a patient to travel, they can avoid any anxiety they may have about being seen going for therapy, they can see a therapist who lives a distance away from them to avoid ever bumping into them, they may find it a lot easier to schedule therapy if they have busy lives and may also be able to ensure continuity of therapy if they have to travel.

However people also say that when going for face to face therapy the journey to and from seeing the therapist can offer a chance to think and reflect, almost to increase the time given to therapy. In addition, the patient might like having a room away from home designated specifically for meeting and talking - particularly if it is hard to find time and space to manage online therapy without interruptions and with privacy.

And then there is a big difference between what both the patient and therapist can experience of each other when therapy is online. Given that communication is understood to be only ten percent verbal it means that the online encounter does not enable either the therapist or patient to experience the encounter as fully as face to face therapy. However, this can even be beneficial.

“I had face to face psychotherapy in the past and wanting to start therapy again meant going online. I returned to my old therapist and of course the setting up of the session was different, what with having to sort out the technology, agreement and payment remotely but what I really noticed was that I felt more relaxed throughout.

There was none of the anticipatory anxiety of spending the journey wondering what to talk about and none of the awkwardness of going into someone else’s home and space. Instead, I started the session excited and nervous about starting but felt relaxed being in my own home and more composed with the technology between us. When the session started I could see the sofa in the background were I had sat previously and remembered just how excruciating it had felt at times.

I instantly reconnected with my therapist and found I was able to speak freely and openly, even to say about how the sofa had been difficult at times. I guess that as my history includes abuse and social anxiety it’s only natural that meeting through technology might be removing some of the pressure that comes from being with another person. Of course I always knew cognitively I was safe with my therapist but I didn’t always feel safe when talking about and therefore reliving having been hurt by others. 

Somehow being the other end of a video call eased the pressure to allow me to feel new feelings and ones that I think have been important in understanding more about myself. I’ve reached a time in live that I want to put those experiences behind me and it feels as though that is happening now. I’m not sure whether I will want to return to face to face sessions when the lockdown and pandemic factors change - I only know I am pleased to have gone back into therapy online”.

If you are thinking of starting therapy and wondering whether to try online therapy or wait until you can meet a therapist face to face then one way of handling this is to choose a therapist in travelling distance and say before starting sessions that you might want to move to face to face sessions. You can then agree together how this might work. 

For more information visit out Online Therapy page here: https://www.nicholas-rose.co.uk/counselling-and-psychotherapy-services/online-therapy-counselling-services

And also our FAQ page here: https://www.nicholas-rose.co.uk/counselling-and-psychotherapy-faq