Q: Does online counselling work as well as face-to-face counselling?
A: Quite simply – yes. Research suggests that it would seem so. A recent comprehensive study investigated this question. It was conducted by Ashley Batastini, Peter Paprzycki, Ashley Jones, and Nina MacLean published in the Clinical Psychology Review, Volume 83, February 2021, entitled: Are video-conferenced mental and behavioural health services just as good as in-person? A meta-analysis of a fast-growing practice
The study conducted a series of meta-analyses of 57 empirical studies (43 examined intervention outcomes; 14 examined assessment reliability) published over the past two decades that included a variety of populations and clinical settings. Online counselling consistently produced treatment effects that were largely equivalent to face-to-face delivered interventions across 281 individual outcomes and 4336 clients.
Two main points the study made were:
- The therapist being face-to-face physically with a client does not appear essential to generating therapeutic outcomes, and,
- There are few meaningful differences in intervention or assessment outcomes between online and face-to-face delivery of counselling.