January 26, 2022

Teletherapy vs. In-office: Which is right for you?

Teletherapy, also known as online therapy or e-therapy, refers to participating in therapeutic services through online videoconferencing. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for teletherapy; however, it's been around for many years. Studies have shown that online interventions are just as effective as in-office services (APA, 2020). The widespread adoption of telehealth has reduced barriers for many individuals to seek therapy, and in some cases, teletherapy can supplement in-person therapy or vice versa. Let’s explore the differences between teletherapy and attending sessions in-office.Here are a couple of reasons that you may prefer in-office therapy:

  1. Improved Focus: Some people focus better in their therapist's office, as they can eliminate home and work distractions. Talking about your struggles can be difficult enough without being surrounded by life’s stressors.
  2. Insurance Coverage: There is inconsistency among insurance providers and whether they will cover teletherapy appointments. While in-person therapy services have been included under mental health parity laws since 2008 (CMS, 2021), insurance providers do not always cover telehealth equivalently to in-person services.  Regardless, it is essential to understand your insurance coverage and be aware of any out-of-pocket costs. You should contact your insurance provider for more details.
  3. Trust: The therapeutic relationship between the client and the therapist is based on trust, which can be harder to build online. Teletherapy is held to the same privacy standards as in-person therapy, but understandably, people may have concerns about having a private space for their appointment, trusting the security of the telehealth platform, or sharing information “online.” Grapevine Psychology uses Telehealth by SimplePractice, which is HIPPA compliant and HITRUST CSF Certified, holding the highest level of security in tele-communication.  See our blog about it here.
  4. Privacy: In-office therapy sessions are often preferred by many people because they may not have a private space at home or work for their appointment. Being in-office eliminates worries about other people overhearing private conversations between the client and the therapist.
  5. Client-Therapist Connection: The therapeutic relationship is unique for each therapist-client dyad, and the therapy space may be one of the first times a person has formed an emotional connection in which their feelings or ideas have been allowed, heard, understood, and valued, and where they have not had to censor themselves. While not impossible via telehealth, in-office therapy sessions may enable this connection to happen more easily or quickly.
  6. No Dependence on Technology: In-person therapy eliminates any worry about technology affecting your session. A lousy internet signal or poor phone reception can significantly hinder the therapeutic experience.

Teletherapy also offers many advantages:

  1. Flexibility: Telehealth appointments allow flexibility in scheduling that attending therapy in-person does not. For example, clients can take an early or late lunch and meet from their office.
  2. Convenience: Attend therapy anywhere, anytime…almost. All therapists have limitations based on where and to whom they can provide services, but this telehealth age makes scheduling easier.
  3. Reduced Travel Time: Driving to the office for an appointment can take a significant amount of time out of a person's day, and even include unexpected delays if there is traffic.
  4. Accessibility: Telehealth makes therapy accessible to anyone, including those who may be homebound or who lack reliable transportation. Also, teletherapy enables services to individuals who may live in a rural area with limited (or no) mental health providers.
  5. Approachable: Online access makes it easier to overcome the stigma that has historically been attached to mental health issues.

When determining whether to pursue in-person or telehealth services, it comes down to what works best for your lifestyle, work schedule, and mental health needs.  And, you might benefit from a combination of telehealth and in-person sessions.  You can discuss your schedule and concerns with your therapist, and together determine the best option for you.If you want to learn more about our therapists, click here.If you’re looking for information about our fees, click here.If you want to schedule a phone consultation with one of our available therapists, feel free to click here.If you need some assistance scheduling a phone consultation or have some questions you want answered before moving forward, reach out to our office click here.

  • APA (2020). How well is telepsychology working? https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/07/cover-telepsychology
  • CMS (Date accessed: 11/15/2021). The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Programs-and-Initiatives/Other-Insurance-Protections/mhpaea_factsheet