Table of contents

Virtual Therapy Sessions: A Guide for Therapists and Clients

Virtual Therapy Sessions: A Guide for Therapists and Clients

By Kiwi Health

Published: Sep 2, 2023

Table of contents

In today’s fast-paced digital world, the way we communicate and interact has undergone a significant transformation.

This evolution has permeated various sectors, including the realm of mental health. Virtual therapy session, a relatively new but rapidly growing modality, has emerged as a beacon of hope and convenience for many seeking therapeutic interventions.

However, as with any new approach, there are nuances to understand, benefits to consider, and challenges to navigate.

Whether you’re a therapist looking to transition online or a potential client wondering about this mode of therapy, this guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of virtual therapy sessions, ensuring that you’re well-equipped to make informed decisions.

What is Virtual Counseling?

Virtual counseling, often interchangeably used with terms like teletherapy, online counseling, e-counseling, and telemental health counseling, is a modern approach to providing therapeutic services.

Unlike traditional face-to-face therapy, virtual counseling leverages technology to bridge the gap between online therapists and clients, allowing them to connect regardless of physical distance.

How Does It Work?

Virtual counseling sessions are typically conducted via video calls, phone calls, or text messaging. The mode of communication can be chosen based on the client’s comfort and the nature of the therapy.

For instance, some might prefer texting for its asynchronous nature, allowing them to reflect before responding, while others might opt for video sessions for a more personal touch.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, even therapists who traditionally offered face-to-face sessions began to explore virtual counseling to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

This shift not only highlighted the versatility of virtual counseling but also its potential to remain a preferred choice for many, even post-pandemic.

The Benefits of Virtual Counseling

Virtual counseling has emerged as a prominent alternative to traditional face-to-face therapy, offering a myriad of advantages tailored to the modern individual’s needs. Here’s a closer look at the benefits this mode of therapy brings:

Convenience and Flexibility

  • Anywhere, Anytime: Clients can access therapy from the comfort of their homes or any other private space, eliminating the need for travel. This is particularly beneficial for those with mobility issues or those living in remote areas.
  • Flexible Scheduling: Virtual therapy can often be scheduled outside of traditional office hours, catering to clients with busy lifestyles or unconventional work hours.


  • Reaching Underserved Areas: Virtual counseling bridges the gap for individuals in rural or underserved areas where mental health services and resources might be scarce.
  • Overcoming Physical Limitations: Those with physical disabilities or health conditions that make traveling challenging can still access quality mental health care.


  • Cost-Effective Options: Many virtual therapy platforms offer online therapy services at a fraction of the cost of traditional therapy. Some platforms provide unlimited messaging or daily check-ins, giving clients more frequent touchpoints with their therapists.
  • No Ancillary Costs: Clients save on transportation, parking, and other incidental expenses associated with in-person visits.

Privacy and Anonymity

  • Discreet Sessions: For those who might feel a stigma around seeking therapy, virtual sessions offer a level of discretion, as there’s no risk of running into someone known in a waiting room.
  • Secure Platforms: Reputable online therapy platforms prioritize client confidentiality, using encrypted communication to ensure privacy.

Immediate Access and Reduced Wait Times

  • Quick Turnaround: Some platforms offer immediate access to therapists, reducing the waiting time that can sometimes be associated with traditional therapy.
  • Frequent Communication: The ability to message therapists outside of scheduled sessions allows for more consistent support, especially during challenging times.

Comfort of Familiar Surroundings

Being in one’s own environment can make it easier for some clients to open up and discuss sensitive or traumatic issues. The familiar setting can reduce the initial anxiety or discomfort that some might feel in a new or clinical environment.

The Drawbacks of Virtual Counseling

While virtual counseling offers a myriad of benefits, it’s essential to understand its limitations to make an informed decision. Here are some potential drawbacks to consider:

Insurance Coverage

  • Limited Insurance Acceptance: Most online counseling platforms might not be covered by insurance. It’s essential to consult with your insurance company to determine your coverage and any potential costs you may face.

Technology Requirements

  • Internet and Device Access: Virtual counseling requires a reliable internet connection and a compatible device, such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Those without consistent access to these resources might find online counseling challenging.
  • Technical Glitches: As with any technology-based service, there’s potential for technical issues, such as poor connection, software malfunctions, or hardware problems, which can disrupt the flow of a session.

Nature of Communication

  • Lack of Physical Presence: Some clients and therapists believe that the physical presence in a therapy room creates a unique therapeutic environment that might be hard to replicate virtually.
  • Potential Misunderstandings: Text-based sessions can sometimes lead to misunderstandings due to the absence of non-verbal cues, tone of voice, or facial expressions.

Suitability for Severe Cases

  • Not Ideal for All Conditions: Virtual counseling might not be suitable for people with severe mental health conditions or those in crisis. In such cases, in-person therapy or more intensive interventions might be more appropriate.

Privacy Concerns

  • Data Security: Even though many platforms use encryption and comply with data privacy regulations, there’s always a risk associated with sharing sensitive information online.

Advantages of Virtual Counseling

  • Immediate Access: Reduced wait times between sessions.
  • Cost-Effective: Often more affordable than traditional therapy.
  • Privacy and Security: Encrypted communication ensures client confidentiality.
  • Flexibility: Multiple communication modes, including text, video, and phone.

Potential Limitations

  • Not all online counseling may be covered by insurance.
  • Requires internet access and a compatible device.
  • Might not be suitable for severe mental health conditions.

Setting Up for Success

Transitioning to or starting with virtual therapy requires careful preparation to ensure that sessions are as effective and seamless as face-to-face treatment. Both therapists and clients need to consider various factors, from the technical aspects to creating a conducive environment for therapy.

Creating the Right Environment

  • Quiet and Private: Choose a space free from distractions and interruptions. This ensures that both the licensed therapist and client can focus entirely on the session.
  • Well-Lit Space: Good lighting is essential, especially for video sessions. Natural light is ideal, but if that’s not possible, ensure the room is adequately lit to see facial expressions clearly.
  • Comfort: The space should be comfortable for prolonged sessions. Consider ergonomic chairs or even a cozy corner with cushions if that feels right.
  • Transparency: Licensed therapists should consider showing their surroundings at the beginning of the session. This gesture can create a sense of safety and transparency for the client.

Technical Preparedness

  • Reliable Technology: Ensure you have a stable internet connection and a device with a good camera and microphone. Test these before the session to avoid technical glitches.
  • Secure Platforms: Use platforms that prioritize data privacy and are compliant with regulations. This ensures that the client’s information remains confidential and safe.
  • Backup Plans: Always have a contingency plan. This could be a secondary device, another communication method, or a backup power source.
  • Digital Etiquette: Close unnecessary applications to avoid distractions. Inform the client if you’re taking notes or looking up resources during the session.

Enhancing the Virtual Connection

  • Active Listening: Especially in a virtual setting, it’s crucial to emphasize active listening. This can be done by nodding, summarizing what the client says, and providing feedback.
  • Clear Communication: Given potential lags or interruptions, speak clearly and at a moderate pace. Ensure the client feels heard and understood.
  • Regular Check-ins: Periodically check in with the client about the online format. Ask if they’re comfortable if the pace is okay, and if there are any technical issues.

Virtual Counseling vs. Traditional Counseling

Navigating the world of therapy might be overwhelming, especially with the rise of virtual counseling. Let’s break down the differences and similarities between virtual and traditional counseling to help you make an informed choice.

The Core Essence

Virtual Counseling

  • Definition: Therapy sessions conducted via video calls, phone calls, or text messaging.
  • Platform: An online therapy platform, apps, or software.
  • Accessibility: Anywhere with an internet connection.

Traditional Counseling

  • Definition: Face-to-face therapy sessions in a physical setting.
  • Platform: Therapist’s office or clinic.
  • Accessibility: Geographically limited to the therapist’s location.

Pros and Cons

Virtual Counseling

  • Immediate Access: Reduced wait times between sessions.
  • Cost-Effective: Often more affordable than traditional therapy, especially for those without insurance.
  • Privacy and Security: Encrypted communication ensures client confidentiality.
  • Flexibility: Multiple communication modes, including text, video, and phone.
  • Technical Requirements: Requires internet access and a compatible device.
  • Insurance Limitations: Not all online counseling may be covered by insurance.
  • Potential Disconnect: Some clients might feel a lack of personal connection without physical presence.

Traditional Counseling

  • Physical Presence: Some clients find the physical presence of a therapist more comforting and effective.
  • Structured Environment: The therapy office can provide a consistent, distraction-free environment.
  • Wider Acceptance: Often more readily accepted and covered by insurance providers.
  • Less Flexible: Requires physical attendance, which can be challenging for those with mobility issues or tight schedules.
  • Geographical Limitations: Limited to therapists in one’s vicinity.
  • Potential Wait Times: Might have longer wait times between sessions.

When to Choose Which?

Virtual Counseling is ideal for:

  • Those with busy schedules.
  • Individuals living in remote areas.
  • People who are comfortable with technology.
  • Those seeking frequent, short check-ins.

Traditional Counseling is recommended for:

  • Individuals requiring intensive treatments or formal diagnoses.
  • Those who value the physical presence of a therapist.
  • People who are not tech-savvy or prefer traditional methods.

Embracing the Digital Shift in Therapy

Virtual therapy is not just a temporary solution but a significant shift in the therapeutic world. It combines the personal touch of traditional therapy with the convenience and accessibility of modern technology.

For many, it’s a lifeline, offering support when and where they need it most. As with any therapeutic approach, the key is finding what works best for the individual. Whether you’re a therapist or a client, embracing this digital shift can open doors to transformative healing and growth.

In this evolving landscape, platforms like Kiwi Health are pioneering the way forward. KiwiHealth, with its comprehensive patient growth platform, seamlessly integrates the benefits of virtual therapy, ensuring therapists and clients connect effortlessly. 

By optimizing online presence and offering tools tailored for telemedicine, Kiwi Health stands as a testament to how technology can enhance therapeutic interventions, making mental health support more accessible and efficient for all.

Subscribe for more tips to grow your medical practice

We work with private practice builders to deliver their latest insights directly in your email!

Related posts