There are two really great things about your question. The first is that you acknowledge the need for help. The second is that even though it’s difficult to get help, you’re still willing to try. You’re off to a really good start.
As far as whether or not face-to-face is the best option for you, let’s consider both options. Face-to-face is the most traditional option and is the best option for most people. It is the one the most people would prefer. Yes, it’s difficult to open up and trust others but if you continuously avoid face-to-face social interaction, you may never overcome these issues. It’s possible that choosing a non-face-to-face interaction could worsen these issues. It could reinforce the idea that these problems aren’t solvable and that you need to find workarounds. Generally speaking, it’s best to work through problems, even if they are difficult.
Being able to correct trust issues, is important for the development of close relationships. Without the ability to connect with others, and to trust them, you may struggle to develop close relationships. This could hinder your ability to find a life partner and to do all the things that most people aspire to do throughout their lifetimes such as get married and have children. Avoidance is driven by fear. Fear should not be holding you back in any way.
Alternatively, let’s consider the non-face-to-face options. These would include phone therapy or online therapy. If it were these options or no treatment at all, then obviously it would be best to choose treatment over no treatment.
One positive aspect of online therapy is that it might give you the opportunity to connect with someone in ways that you haven’t yet been able to do. Some research suggests that online counseling can induce a high degree of intimacy. Some clients find it easier to open up to their therapists without having to see them in person. It can be freeing to not have to deal with the social awkwardness that sometimes can occur with in-person meetings. Some research suggests certain types of therapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy, in an online setting, effectively reduces symptoms of several mental health issues. In fact, several studies have shown online therapy has the potential to be even more effective than traditional in-person therapy.
One of the challenges of online therapy is the potential for misunderstandings. It can be difficult to communicate effectively with writing. Both the client and the therapist must be reasonably comfortable with their ability to express themselves via written dialogue. That can be a challenge if both people aren’t comfortable or good at it. You might search for a therapist who has extensive online experience and who feels comfortable expressing themselves via that medium.
Telephone psychotherapy may also be an option for you. That’s a different way of communicating and may also be something to consider.
Realistically speaking, non-face-to-face treatment may be the only form available at this time. Most countries are affected by the pandemic and have shut down their businesses. You quite literally may not have another option at this time.
Before you make any decisions, it would be best to explore all of your options. As I mentioned above, you may not have many options at this time. You will have to see what’s available to you. In addition, you don’t want to make a selection about in-person versus non-in-person based on fear. Ask yourself this question: am I making the selection because of fear or is it because it’s the right choice for me given my circumstances? You don’t want fear to be driving your decision-making process.
In some ways, the outcome of one’s therapy depends upon the expertise of the therapist. Not all therapists are the same. Their skills vary greatly. I usually recommend interviewing at least four or five before making a choice. It’s important to find someone you like and with whom you’re comfortable. Good luck with your efforts.
Dr. Kristina Randle