Virtual vs. In-Person Counseling and Coaching: Is One Better than the Other?

Please Note: I am currently providing ONLY telehealth video therapy sessions via a HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing service to California clients. If interested, please let me know or click here for more information, and I pray you and your family stay safe during these challenging times.

Virtual vs. In-Person Counseling and Coaching: Is One Better than the Other?Both counseling and coaching have proven to be indispensable tools for countless individuals looking to successfully manage change, develop their full potential, and achieve their visions of success.

However, not all counselors and coaches work alike. And knowing the types of counseling and coaching that are available can help you make an informed decision when it comes to the type of counseling or coaching that can provide you the greatest benefit.

While counselors and coaches often divide their expertise into one of several sub-categories (such as relationship coaching, life coaching, family counseling, child counseling, etc.), one of the most obvious distinctions amongst counselors and coaches is between those that provide their services virtually and those that prefer to offer face-to-face, in-person counseling and coaching. But how do they differ and is one really better than the other?

The Pros and Cons of Virtual and In-Person Counseling

It’s easy to find experts on both sides of the virtual vs. face-to-face counseling debate who give compelling arguments in favor of the method they espouse.

Nevertheless, as a professional counselor – and in keeping with the tenets of effective counseling and coaching – I’d rather preset you with the pros and cons to each approach and let you make up your own mind about the method that’s right for you.

Virtual Counseling and Coaching


  • You can work with the best coaches or counselors possible no matter where they are located and work at times that are convenient for both of you.
  • Virtual meeting and conferencing tools such as GoToMeeting, Zoom, and Skype are inexpensive and often free.
  • Because virtual counseling and coaching are less time-intensive (neither party has to commute to sessions and meetings can be scheduled whenever is convenient) participants are more likely to be on time for appointments and less likely to miss them or need to reschedule.
  • Given the ability to conduct virtual sessions from anywhere with an Internet connection or telephone, virtual counseling and coaching may offer greater privacy than similar services provided on-site.
  • Due to the lack of travel time required for virtual counseling and coaching, shorter, more frequent sessions are often possible (whereas high-impact, half-hour counseling and coaching sessions rarely makes sense when conducted in person).
  • Some counseling and coaching participants feel more comfortable opening up when they are in their own environment rather than a professional setting.


  • Some counseling and coaching participants find it difficult to establish a connection and develop rapport with someone who isn’t sitting face-to-face in the same room.
  • Technological issues (dropped calls, Internet connection issues, etc.) can disrupt virtual sessions.
  • Some physical activities and exercises are simply more difficult to work on together when you and your counselor or coach aren’t in the same room.

Face-to-Face Counseling and Coaching


  • The ability to observe visual cues (such as eye contact, body language, posture, etc.) can help counseling and coaching participants better understand one another and develop rapport more quickly.
  • In-person counseling and coaching need not exclude the option of holding some sessions virtually when deemed prudent or necessary.
  • The extra effort required to conduct in-person sessions can equate to an increased perception of the importance and value participants place on those sessions.
  • Some materials and physical activities are simply easier to work on in person.


  • Your choice of counselors or coaches is geographically limited to those who can travel to your place of work or to whom you can travel.
  • Due to the increased scheduling demands of in-person counseling and coaching (one party must drive to meet the other and in-person counseling and coaching is often done during “normal” business hours), it is more likely for participants to be late or have to reschedule or cancel appointments.
  • In-person counseling and coaching can be more expensive, as counselors and coaches must either include the costs of office maintenance or travel expenses into the fees they charge clients.

While it may seem difficult to argue against the increased sense of communication and connectedness provided by in-person counseling and coaching, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should rush to judgment in favor of in-person counseling and coaching over the virtual variety without objectively weighing the pros and cons of both approaches.

Many counselors and coaches start out with the intention of only providing the type of immediacy and intimacy that face-to-face, in-person services provide, only to begin offering more and more virtual sessions.

This all being said, virtual counseling and coaching helps coaches, counselors, and their clients overcome a couple of the significant barriers that prevent more individuals from taking advantage of counseling and coaching: time and convenience.

Just remember that whether counseling or coaching is conducted remotely or in person, the same framework, strategies, and tools still apply … and they still work.

Counseling and coaching can help you effectively manage change, develop your full potential, and create the thriving and joyous relationships and life you desire, regardless of the environment in which that counseling or coaching is conducted. Therefore, the decision to go one route or the other, or use some combination of the two, should depend solely on your needs and preferences.

If you have any questions regarding this article, or if I may be of any other assistance, please don’t hesitate to connect with me at or call me anytime at (714) 974-1621, to ask any questions, have a free phone consultation, or set up an initial office consultation. I look forward to hearing from you.

Office (714) 974-1621 / FAX (714) 485-2316 / E-mail

Tricia Buttkus, LCSW – Licensed Psychotherapist
20409 Yorba Linda Blvd, Suite 108, Yorba Linda, CA 92886

Proudly serving Orange County and parts of Riverside County, including Anaheim, Corona, Riverside, Anaheim Hills, Fullerton, Tustin, Brea, Orange, Villa Park, Placentia, and Yorba Linda.

Tricia Buttkus, LCSW - Licensed Psychotherapist
Couples, Marriage and Family Counseling provided by a
Licensed Marriage, Family, and Child Therapist in Yorba Linda, Anaheim, and Brea, CA, California

Copyright © 2011- , Tricia K. Buttkus, LCSW, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy