Video Therapy vs. Text Therapy: What’s the Difference and Which Is Best for You?

Jennifer FritzByJennifer FritzOct. 29, 2019
Video Therapy vs. Text Therapy: What’s the Difference and Which Is Best for You?
Online therapy is a sensation that is becoming more and more popular. It's cheap, it's convenient, and it's easy-to-use. In fact, this innovation is affording hundreds of thousands of people across the globe the opportunity to get the support they need. And according to many happy subscribers, online therapy is as effective as going to an office.

Two of the more popular methods of online therapy communication methods are text and video chat.* Just like there are different types of learning styles, there are different ways that people choose to communicate. Some people are more verbal and need to hear their thoughts out loud, while others are more visual and prefer to spend time writing out their feelings and enjoy reading the responses.  

Which one is best? That depends on a lot of things, including your personality, availability, and communication style. Here’s a head-to-head comparison of video therapy and text therapy, so you can make the decision for yourself.

Video Versus Text Therapy: What’s the Difference?

Let's start with some definitions for clarity's sake. Video therapy is a one-on-one session with a trained therapist conducted over a video feed. This is like a Skype therapy call, only more private. Text therapy or chat therapy is a private chat room dedicated to your therapy sessions. Only yourself and your therapist will have access to the chat feed, and the chat lives on your device. So, you can access and review it whenever you want.  

Video therapy engages your auditory and verbal sensors while text therapy engages you on a visual platform. Let’s see if there are more areas of divergence to give you a clearer picture of these two successful online therapy tools.

Text Counseling Versus Video Therapy: The Battle Begins

Now that you know what each one is let's see what other variants exist. We should remind you, though, that both text therapy and video chats are excellent methods for gaining professional guidance and assistance to some minor and major life issues. This comparison is merely being used to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each one to give you a better understanding and the ability to make a more informed decision.

Round #1: Testing

It’s nice to make claims, but in today’s day and age it is nice to have options. When it comes to something as important as your choice of therapists, people want concrete evidence of success. We want to know that we’ve made the right decision based on the previous successes that others have experienced using this method. So, we turn to the numbers.

There are several studies that show that text-based therapy can yield positive results. In fact, BetterHelp, one of the foremost online therapy services, was highlighted in a study by the Berkeley Well-Being Institute. It showed that a significant number of clients made progress using this method of therapy to address their issues. This included a reduction in depressive symptoms in those who participated in the study. 

What's more is that a large proportion of the participants actually preferred BetterHelp to traditional face-to-face therapy. While this is just one study and more research is needed, it is refreshing to see how many people are pleased with online therapy overall.

What about video therapy? In a study conducted over the course of 4 years involving 100,000 participants, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs found some interesting results. When people used video therapy versus traditional face-to-face therapy, there was actually a decrease in the need for mental-health-related hospitalizations. This was true for both men and women and held up across several age groups.

While both methods reflect how effective online therapy can be, video therapy seems to show some very strong evidence in how effective it can be.  

Winner: Video Therapy

Round #2: Reviewing

This one is fairly straightforward. While video therapy is invaluable for anyone who needs to hear their own or someone else’s voice, it simply cannot compare to text-based therapy when it comes to reviewing.  

With text therapy, you are given a chat forum exclusively used for your therapy sessions. Each time you have something to say, you just send a quick text to your therapist.  You can write anytime day or night and can write as often as you would like. Additionally, in almost all cases you can review everything that you and your therapist has previously written.

Winner: Text Therapy

Round #3: Accessibility

Being able to access your therapist often will increase the likelihood of a positive outcome. Obviously, if you have several sessions a week where you can work out your problems, discuss techniques, and get feedback, results will come more quickly. While most therapists both on or offline won’t accommodate such a request, text therapy is often the next best thing. Text therapy affords you full accessibility to your therapist whenever you want. Granted, the counselor won’t respond every time a message comes in, but the option to communicate is always there. Sending a message whenever you want allows you to disclose anything you want whenever you want, but it is also a great way to document how you’re feeling for later review, including feedback from your therapist.

Winner: Text Therapy

Round #4: Rapid Response Time

Video therapy has another clear advantage over the text version. If you want the most interactive therapy experience, there's nothing that beats video chat therapy (other than an in-person session, of course.)  While either choice matches you with a professional, licensed, and qualified therapist, video sessions offer continuous interactions with your therapist which many people prefer.   The response is immediate during the time of your session, and many sites allow you to schedule once per week.  

Winner: Video Therapy

Online Therapy: Your Therapy, Your Way

As you can see, both video sessions and text sessions have their benefits. Video therapy is ideal for someone who needs auditory feedback, likes to talk out their issues, or prefers having a face-to-face interaction. Conversely, text-based therapy is the preferred method of communication for someone who likes to take their time crafting what they have to say, wants to be able to access their therapist whenever they want, or likes reviewing their therapy sessions at will.

Get to know yourself a little better, and then make a decision. Of course, there is also a hybrid, a video chat therapy where you can use both methods. If you just can’t decide, opt for this method. Most online therapy services offer the hybrid version as a default. So, you can get the visual feedback you need and text in between sessions. Either way, online therapy is a great way for you to deal with the challenges that you have been facing!  

*If these different modes of therapy interest you, try to find a site that offers you a combination of both for an even better online therapy experience.

We invest a lot of resources into bringing you high-quality content. However, the information on this site should not be treated as professional advice, be it medical or any other. Before choosing an online therapy service, we recommend consulting with a physician or other professional healthcare provider. Please do not use this site if you or someone you care about are in a crisis or may be in danger. These resources can provide you with immediate help.

Jennifer FritzByJennifer FritzOct. 24, 2019
Jennifer Fritz is a Licensed Social Worker. She received her MSW and PhD from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and has been an online therapist for several years. She specializes in areas such as depression, anxiety, relationship issues, anger, self-esteem and abuse.