Through the Lens: Comparing the Immersion of Movies and Virtual Therapy


Early in my career as a budding therapist, a moment with a client struck me. He had just enrolled in our in-person therapy program and was filled with hope. With confidence, he said that this was going to work, distinguishing it from his past virtual therapy experience which he felt didn’t work for him. He believed that success could only be found in sharing the same physical space with his therapist.

This notion, echoed often in the realm of behavioral healthcare, raises a question: Is physical presence the sole essence of effective therapy? Delving deeper into the therapeutic process unveils the truth. Success in therapy is woven into the fabric of the relationship between the therapist and client and the competency of the therapist.

Cinema offers a vivid analogy. A captivating movie draws viewers into its world, allowing them to traverse realms of imagination, emotion, and thought. Despite the spatial separation, a powerful film creates an immersive, transformative experience. It’s not about physically being there; it’s about the journey it takes you on and the emotions it stirs within you.

Drawing parallels with virtual therapy, the essence of its efficacy mirrors that of a compelling movie. It isn’t solely dependent on sharing a physical space but rather thrives on the quality of the therapeutic relationship and the therapist’s competence. A virtual session, conducted by a proficient therapist who resonates with the client, breaks the barriers of physical space, enabling a journey of exploration, insight, and healing.

An ineffective therapist, irrespective of the therapy format—virtual or face-to-face—falls short of facilitating a meaningful therapeutic experience. Much like a lackluster movie failing to captivate its audience, a less competent therapist or a mismatched therapeutic relationship doesn’t hold the promise of transformation or healing.

In conclusion, the essence of impactful therapy—virtual or not—lies in the realms beyond physical presence. It blossoms in the garden of a strong, resonating therapeutic relationship and is nurtured by the competence of the therapist, much like the moving experience offered by a powerful film.