Online vs. In-Person Therapy Appointments

Written by Nicole Laoutaris
Last updated on: Mar 27, 2024

Embarking on the journey of therapy is a courageous step towards self-improvement and mental wellness. In today's diverse therapeutic landscape, you have the option to choose between in-person and online therapy sessions. Each mode offers unique benefits and caters to different needs and preferences. This comprehensive guide aims to provide you with insights into both, helping you make an informed decision about which type suits you best.

One research found that online counselling can be as effective as face-to-face counseling, particularly in reducing psychological distress. In another study of over 25,000 patients, online talk therapy proved to be as helpful for anxiety and depression as in-person therapy.

In-Person Therapy

Therapists often work from a variety of locations, including their homes, rented spaces in buildings shared with other therapists, or clinics and hospitals. Regardless of the location, these sessions are conducted in a confidential and private space, ensuring a secure environment for your therapeutic journey.

Benefits of In-Person Therapy

  • Non-Verbal Communication: Face-to-face interaction allows therapists to pick up on important non-verbal cues.
  • Personal Connection: Some clients find it easier to build rapport and trust in a physical setting.
  • Dedicated Space: Some people may not have a quiet room for therapy at home or at the office. Therapy offices are designed to provide a calm and focused environment, free from the distractions of daily life. 
  • Structured Routine: Traveling to a therapist’s office can create a sense of routine and commitment.

Online Therapy

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly accelerated the adoption of online therapy. Remote sessions are conducted via video software or phone calls, providing a convenient and flexible alternative to traditional therapy.

Advantages of Online Therapy

  1. Convenience: You can attend sessions from anywhere, eliminating travel time.
  2. Broader selection of therapists: Online therapy gives you access to professionals beyond your geographical location.
  3. Flexibility: Scheduling is often more versatile, accommodating various time zones and lifestyles.
  4. Comfort: You can make yourself comfortable in your own space, perhaps accompanied by a pet. 
  5. Immediate access: In times of urgent need, remote therapy may be quickly arranged.

Working with a Therapist Outside of Your Province

With the flexibility of online therapy, you might consider a therapist based outside your home province, which may help with finding a therapist with the right fit by widening the search across the country, especially for those living in rural areas.

Here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • Insurance coverage: Check if your benefits plan covers therapists with designations outside your province.
  • Confirm that the therapist’s professional liability insurance is valid for working with clients in your location.
  • Regulatory compliance: Ensure that the therapist is permitted by their professional association to work with out-of-province clients.
  • Some therapists might recommend local professionals, especially for specific challenges or issues.

Technology and Privacy in Online Therapy

  • Secure platforms: Many video conferencing tools are specifically designed for medical use, ensuring strong security and privacy measures.
  • Private communication: Options like FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts allow for direct connection with therapists.

It's up to your therapist to ensure the platform’s security. Always feel free to inquire about privacy and online security measures.

Walk-In and Low-Cost Options

Some clinics and hospitals offer walk-in options, catering especially to youth, women, those dealing with addiction, or experiencing homelessness. These services are often available at a low or no cost.

Making the Right Choice

Both in-person and online therapy have their distinct advantages. Your choice should depend on factors such as your personal comfort, the nature of your issues, and logistical considerations. Whether you opt for the traditional route of in-person therapy or embrace the modern approach of online sessions, the most important aspect is finding a therapist who you feel comfortable with and who meets your specific needs. Remember, therapy is a personal journey, and the right setting can make a significant difference in your therapeutic experience.

Ready to start your search? First Session has a network of therapists across Canada, both online and in-person.

Ready to talk?

Use First Session to find the right therapist for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Author

Nicole Laoutaris

Nicole Laoutaris is a freelance writer and adult learning professional based in the Greater Toronto Area. She specializes in educational content for brands and companies in industries such as mental health, pet health, lifestyle and wellness, cannabis, and personal finance. Nicole holds a double undergraduate degree in Communications and Film studies from Wilfrid Laurier University, and post-graduate certificate in Corporate Communications from Seneca College. She currently lives in Hamilton Ontario with her spouse and her cat.