Choosing how to see clients is a big decision for a counsellor. Should you meet them only online, only face-to-face, or a bit of both? This choice affects not just your practice, but your personal life, too.
Consider Your Day-to-Day Life First
You know your life, and where you feel most supported and focused during the workday. If seeing clients from home will make you feel like you can never fully relax between clients (because you see household chores that need to be done), or if you find excessive screen time too draining, or distracting then an in-person approach might be the best option.
What if you’re at a place in your life where you’re caring for young kids or are a primary caregiver for a family member? In that case, working from home may reduce worrying about your loved ones and could be a lifesaver.
You can manage your hours better, and cut down commuting time. Plus, if there’s an unexpected emergency, it’s less disruptive than if you were seeing clients in an office.
What about Your Financial Resources?
There is no denying that online therapy is less expensive. You save costs in multiple way, avoiding eating out as much, gas from driving, wear and tear on the car, the cost of an office rental and shared cost for an in-person administrator if required. Office furniture, even the cost of kleenex can add up!
With an online model, the money you save simply on not paying rent can go towards other expenses that will make your life easier, such as hiring a virtual assistant, investing in new therapy trainings, or even business consulting. For in-person therapy, you can mitigate some of your costs by sharing the space with another therapist, joining an in-person counselling clinic (where the percentage you pay per client goes towards overhead), or by building a small in person office space at home (but this isn’t an option for everyone).
Your Primary Client May Require In-Person Sessions
When you’re considering what environment to see clients, a big thing to think about is what the people that see you will be needing to feel safe, supported, and heard.
There’s no denying in-person counselling has its strengths. You can pick up on subtle body language or tone of voice that might not come across as clearly online. Plus, if you work primarily with children, the elderly, or people who do not have a private space at home, seeing them in person can often be preferable to ensure a deep connection, prevent distraction, and ensure privacy.
For some clients with high anxiety, virtual therapy may be a better option so that they can have all of their normal supports around them, and so they can avoid the stress of having to find parking, or any awkwardness in the waiting room. Online therapy also make therapy more accessible for those who live in remote areas.
You know your client base best, and taking their needs into consideration is a part of being a responsible therapist, and business owner.
Will A Hybrid Approach Work For Both You and Your Clients?
Make The Decision That Works Best For Your Life
Choosing how to see your clients – online, in-person, or a mix of both – is a big decision. You have to weigh your personal circumstances, the needs of your clients, and the practicalities of your location. Personally, I think your own life does need to be considered first, because if you the therapist isn’t happy, it is only a matter of time before that resentment begins to trickle down into your client relationships.
Know that nothing is set in stone. If you find that most of your clients want to just stay virtual, then you may step away from a hybrid approach and just do online. Or, if most of your requests coming in are for face to face therapy, then the motivation to find a clinical space may be too strong to ignore (and there are ways to adapt in-person therapy for those who need to be close to home).
Remember, there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, but taking the time to consider your options can help you find what works best for you and your clients.