Online vs. face to face counseling

The debate between online and offline Counseling has become increasingly pertinent in the evolving landscape of mental health services. As you seek support for your mental health, choosing between these two modes of Counseling can significantly impact your journey toward wellness. This article delves into the nuances of online and offline Counseling, comparing their advantages, limitations, and suitability for different circumstances. It then talks about the similarities between online and offline Counseling, which might not be as different as we think. In the end, you can find a checklist to determine whether online Counseling is the right fit for you or if you're better off with traditional offline face-to-face counseling. 

Online Counseling

Online Counseling, also known as e-therapy or teletherapy, has surged in popularity, mainly due to global challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic. It involves providing psychological support and services over the internet through video calls, chats, or emails. This mode of Counseling has not only democratized access to mental health services. Still, it has also proven effective, offering a legitimate and trusted alternative to traditional face-to-face counseling.

Advantages of Online Counseling

  • Effectivity: Available literature suggests that online therapy can be as effective as face-to-face therapy. Research showed, for example, that cognitive behavior therapy has similar efficacy compared to in-person therapy for treating depression and anxiety disorders. Online Counseling provides a platform for effective communication and therapeutic techniques.
  • Accessibility: Online Counseling breaks down geographical barriers, making mental health services more accessible to people in remote or underserved areas or to caregivers. Many professionals, including solopreneurs (individuals who run their businesses), now work from anywhere in the world—all they need is an internet connection, a laptop, and a smartphone. People who must be mobile for work, such as sales employees or consultants, are also target groups for online coaching. Expats can also be very well supported via online coaching.
  • Time and cost savings are among the most significant advantages. Neither the client nor the counselor has to take on travel time. There are also no travel costs, and potential room costs for Counseling have been eliminated. 
  • Anonymity: For those who may feel stigma or discomfort about seeking mental health services, online Counseling offers a layer of privacy.

Limitations of Online Counseling

  • Technology Issues: Dependence on technology means poor internet connections or technical glitches can disrupt sessions.
  • Lack of Non-Verbal Cues: Therapists and Clients may find reading body language or non-verbal signals through a screen harder.
  • Not Suitable for All Conditions: Online Counseling might not be effective for individuals with severe mental health issues that require more intensive care or supervision.

The Traditional Approach: Offline Counseling

Offline face-to-face Counseling has been the traditional method of delivering mental health services. It involves in-person sessions between a client and a therapist and offers a personal and direct approach to treatment.

Advantages of Face-to-Face Counseling

  • Personal Connection: The physical presence of both client and therapist can enhance the therapeutic relationship, fostering trust and empathy.
  • Non-Verbal Communication: Therapists can better interpret clients' non-verbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions, which can be crucial for understanding emotions and reactions.
  • Immediate Support: Therapists can offer immediate interventions in offline face-to-face settings if a client is in crisis.

Limitations of offline Face-to-Face Counseling

  • Accessibility Issues: Individuals living in remote areas or those with mobility issues may find it challenging to access in-person services.
  • Time and Cost: The need to travel to a therapist's office can add extra time and financial costs to the counseling process.
  • Stigma: Some individuals may avoid seeking help due to the perceived stigma associated with visiting a mental health professional's office.

Navigating the Choice

Your individual needs, preferences, and the nature of the issues should guide your choice between online and face-to-face Counseling. Here are several factors to consider when you're making this decision:

  • Nature of Mental Health Concerns: Offline Counseling might be preferable for complex or severe mental health issues. Online Counseling, on the other hand, can be highly effective for managing stress, anxiety, and other shared concerns.
  • Personal Comfort: Some individuals may feel more comfortable opening up about personal issues in a virtual environment, while others may prefer the direct interaction of face-to-face sessions.
  • Lifestyle and Accessibility: Busy schedules, geographical location, and access to reliable transportation can all influence the choice between online and face-to-face Counseling.

Checklist: Is online Counseling suitable for me?

  1. I have many geographical constraints (e.g., due to children, care work, and self-employment) and would like to save travel time to the counselor.
  2. I travel often and occasionally need counseling support on these trips.
  3. I have no fear of using different online media and have already communicated via video, Skype, or chat.
  4. I want to protect my privacy and don't want my colleagues, boss, or family and friends to know I'm in Counseling.
  5. I want flexible or short-term support that answers my questions.
  6. I already experienced that I do not need a person's physical presence to build a relationship of trust.
  7. I would like to have the sessions recorded via video or text so I can rework or read them at leisure.
  8. I already work a lot online and enjoy it, so it feels natural to contact my counselor online, too.
  9. I can imagine working on the counseling issues at my own pace.
  10. I prefer to deal with these problematic questions at home in my usual environment, as I feel more protected and can open up better.

If you can answer five or more of the statements clearly yes, you can assume that you will benefit from online coaching.

Similarities between online and offline Counseling

Whether it's online or offline Counseling, the aim stays the same: to enable clients to introduce or implement new perspectives, changes in behavior, or expand skills in their daily lives.

The counseling process also remains the same. In both online and face-to-face Counseling, the process steps include clarifying concerns, setting goals, working with resources and strengths to gain self-confidence and motivation, interventions for the desired change in thinking, perception, or behavior, creating goals and action plans, support in implementing the process, and final evaluation.

For a long time, there was a persistent misconception that physical presence was required to undergo an intensive counseling process. Physical presence, however, is not necessary for a sustainable coaching relationship and developing a feeling of trust and closeness.

Why Online Counseling for Parents?

Parents often face unique challenges ranging from parenting to work-life balance to personal relationships. Online counseling provides a platform where parents can seek support in a flexible framework that fits their often hectic lifestyle.

Exploring Free Resources Before Booking a Session

If you're still unsure about investing your time and money in booking a psychological session with me, you might find value in exploring some of the free resources that I offer. These resources can provide you with initial guidance and support, helping you decide if further counseling is right for you.

One such resource is the Mamatomo community. "Mamatomo" is a Japanese term meaning "befriended mothers." This community offers a space where you can connect with other mothers, sharing experiences and support. To join, simply fill in this form, and I will match you with a Mamatomo for free. It’s a great way to feel supported and understood by peers who are in similar life stages.

Another free offering is my bi-weekly newsletter. In this newsletter, I provide professional tips and insights about mental health and parenting. These tips are designed to help you navigate the complexities of parenthood and personal well-being, offering practical advice that you can apply in your daily life. Subscribe down below for free. 

Both of these resources are designed to offer support and information, helping you make an informed decision about whether to pursue further psychological counseling. They are a good starting point for anyone looking to enhance their understanding of mental health and parenting challenges.


Online and offline Counseling offers valuable pathways to mental wellness, each with advantages and challenges. The choice between them depends on many factors, including the nature of the individual's mental health concerns, personal preferences, and practical considerations like accessibility and convenience. As the mental health field continues to evolve, technology integration in therapy presents new opportunities for innovation and accessibility, ensuring that individuals can find the support they need in the manner that best suits them. In the journey towards mental wellness, the most crucial step is reaching out for help, whether that be through a screen or across a room.