Differences and similarities between online and face-to-face therapy
Summary of the main differences and similarities between online and face-to-face psychotherapy.
If in recent years online psychotherapy was already experiencing a rapid expansion in popularity among psychotherapists and patients, the emergence of the 2020 pandemic has only accelerated this progression.
Today this form of psychological intervention is more consolidated than ever, and is even well known by people who have never been to a psychologist and are not even considering doing so in the near future. But... what are its defining characteristics, what separates it from conventional psychotherapy?
Throughout this article we will look at a summary of the differences and similarities between online psychotherapy and face-to-face psychotherapy, something very useful to know what to expect.This is very useful to know what to expect from this kind of services.
What are the differences between online psychological therapy and face-to-face therapy?
These are the main differences between online therapy and the one that takes place in person, either in the psychology office or in a larger health center.
1. With online therapy there is no need for travel
This is probably the most striking feature of online therapy: it is possible to use it without leaving your home.It is possible to use it without leaving home, provided that you have an Internet connection and an electronic device capable of connecting to the network, with a screen and a camera. This saves time, effort and, in many cases, also money.
2. The communication channel is different
Another of the main differences between online psychotherapy and face-to-face psychotherapy is that in the first format the communication channel is a digital platform, while in the second case the interaction takes place in the same room.. This implies that the patient must have a minimum knowledge of how to use the electronic device and the video call interface, but fortunately, its operation is simple, and in any case the psychologists help in resolving any doubts.
3. Online therapy offers a space that is familiar to the patient.
From the first online psychotherapy session, it can take place in a place that the patient already knows well, since it is not necessary to go to a place where he/she has not been before. This means that, in a subtle and semi-conscious way, patients tend to be more relaxed and open to explain their problems, which speeds up the dynamic of the session.which speeds up the dynamics of the therapeutic process.
4. Online psychotherapy offers extra anonymity and discretion.
Since it is not necessary to enter a psychology office or a psychotherapist's office to use online therapy, you simply need to find a quiet, private place with an Internet connection. simply find a quiet, private place with an Internet connection, this provides extra anonymity and discretion.This provides extra anonymity when seeking psychological support. Although nowadays fewer and fewer people are reluctant to admit that they go to psychotherapy, this is a feature that is still important for some patients.
5. With the online format there is greater accessibility to psychological support
Because of the differences between online and face-to-face therapy, many of which are advantageous for those who choose the former format, psychotherapy can reach more people. For example, to people who due to their state of health, the place where they live (isolated from large urban centers or poorly connected to them) or their economic difficulties cannot afford to travel weekly to a psychotherapy center.
Similarities between online psychotherapy and face-to-face psychotherapy
These are the aspects in which online therapy and face-to-face therapy before the psychologist are similar.
1. They have a comparable level of effectiveness.
If you have the appropriate technical requirements in terms of the quality of the electronic device and Internet connection (something that is nowadays common in most Spanish homes), the efficacy of online psychotherapy is basically the same as that of face-to-face psychotherapyexcept in special cases, such as child therapy with young children.
2. The professionals who provide the service are accredited psychologists.
The type of training of psychologists who perform online therapy is the same as that of those who offer face-to-face psychotherapy. In all cases, they are university-trained psychologists specialized in therapy..
3. They are services that require an appointment
Both online and face-to-face therapy are based on sessions that must be agreed upon beforehand, given that in order to be able to offer them, psychologists must be able to prepare them, psychologists must be able to prepare them in advance and make sure they have a slot in their schedule to dedicate time to them consistently throughout the weeks.. Which brings us to the next point.
4. Their duration is the same
Another similarity between face-to-face psychotherapy and online psychotherapy has to do with their duration. They are never based on one or a couple of sessions, nor do they last for years. To help patients overcome the problems for which they come for consultation, it is necessary for them to commit to therapy for several weeks or months, without skipping sessions.without skipping sessions.
Are you interested in having professional psychological support?
If you are looking for psychotherapy services, either in person or online, please contact us. At Avance Psychologists we have been helping all types of patients for 20 years, and we currently provide services in both formats, either face-to-face in our center in Madrid, or via video call. On this page you can see our contact details.
- Gratzer, D. and Khalid-Khan, F. (2016). Internet-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy in the treatment of psychiatric illness. CMAJ, 188(4) pp. 263 - 272.
- González-Peña, P., Torres, R., Del Barrio, V., & Olmedo, M. (2017). Use of technology in psychological practice in Spain. Infocop.
- Simon, G.E; Ludman, E.J (2009). It's time for disruptive innovation in psychotherapy. The Lancet. 374(9690): pp. 594 - 595.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)