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Online Versus In-Person Coaching Services

When beginning an online business, I debated at length about providing services solely online versus having office visits as I have previously done. I thought long and hard about my decision. I read lots of research studies that have been conducted about the difference in efficacy and challenges that may arise depending on if you are meeting in person versus online. Surprisingly, I found that the research shows outcomes of online services are just as effective as office visits and meeting face-to-face with someone in person. I have also noticed a big movement toward online therapy services, although I will have to admit after working for years in an office setting where I met my clients face-to-face, having my first Skype call was a bit odd simply because it was something new and different. However, after several calls, it began to feel like second nature. I find that once you make a personal connection with someone then talking over the phone or online comes with ease.

I will say that this is very much a personal choice based on your own comfort level. If you are searching for services and feel that telehealth and virtual services would be too awkward or you have tried online services and just did not feel like a good match for you, then you should definitely search for a local provider. There are some great online directories that will help you find someone including: mycoachmatch.com or noomi.com. Also, if you are facing a more serious mental health condition and need traditional psychological services versus coaching, then I would recommend finding a mental health provider in your area. You may start your search for mental health services through your health insurance or you can also search online directories such as psychologytoday.com for a psychologist in your local area. 

However, for those who may see the convenience, ease and comfort of online services, then why not keep up with the modern digital age? Let’s face it, the times have changed and we are definitely more digital than ever before! Online counseling provides more of an opportunity to meet at your convenience without restrictions due to scheduling, timing or travel. When you are able to meet online then you can be in the comfort of your own home or office without the worry of having to travel to an appointment. The online therapy option also allows you a bit more privacy considering you do not have to walk into an office somewhere or sit in the waiting room with others passing through. You can simply sit in the comfort of your own home or office and connect with your online coach without anyone knowing. It’s simple, private and convenient. 

Online coaching services also offer the opportunity to find a variety of options with services. You have access to many more people, specialities and a variety of coaches and therapists than just the local people in your area. Online counseling services can connect you to professionals in each and every state as well as worldwide! This opens so many doors. This allows for ample opportunity to choose from a variety of specialties and areas of focus that you may not be able to find locally. Many people, especially in rural communities, may have a hard time finding mental health services available in their area or finding a professional who they feel they match well with or has the specialty training that they need. So being able to search online really broadens the criteria and allows for many more options.

There are lots and lots of coaches and therapists available. So when looking for someone to work with, be sure and review their credentials, look at their experiences, watch videos or read their written work to get a sense of who they are as a person. Most importantly, once you find someone, make sure that you “click” with that person when you speak to them and have a compatible personality and style. If you are finding that you just aren’t the right match, then try your search again and keep working to find the right person for you. Research suggests that it is the relationship between the two people that has one of the greatest impacts on effecting change and outcomes of the sessions. So believe me, it’s worth the time and effort to find just the right person for you.


Read more about the Loving Roots Project online services for individual and couples & our self-guided online wellness classes.


Research:

Barak, Azy, et al. (2008). A comprehensive review and a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of internet-based psychotherapeutic interventions. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 26.2-4: 109-160. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15228830802094429#.VI8vaCvF_hs

Wantland, D. J., Portillo, C. J., Holzemer, W. L., Slaughter, R., & McGhee, E. M. (2004). The effectiveness of Web-based vs. non-Web-based interventions: a meta-analysis of behavioral change outcomes. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 6(4). http://www.jmir.org/2004/4/e40/


Other Articles:

What you need to know before choosing online therapy. https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/online-therapy

Is Online Therapy Worth The Money? https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/between-the-lines/201802/is-online-therapy-worth-the-money


Blog written by: Dr. Shelley Sommerfeldt, Clinical Psychologist, Relationship Coach & Founder of the Loving Roots Project, an online wellness practice specializing in personal growth, mental wellness, & relationship betterment.

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