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Is online coaching as effective as face-to-face coaching?

The traditional face-to-face approach has been significantly downsizing in recent years, in favor of online coaching, and this is also found in other areas related to coaching, such as career counseling (career orientation), or in different areas but which can give an idea of customer preferences, such as sessions to learn a foreign language, which is increasingly moving towards online platforms.

Among other things, remote intervention is nothing new: Freud himself sometimes used correspondence exchanges in therapeutic paths.

And now that the characteristics of the tools available have changed, through the video sessions it is now possible to replicate relationships very similar to those that would occur in the presence.

And it should not be forgotten that the researches now show equal effectiveness of remote interventions compared to those in presence, while preserving the first a considerable saving of time without necessary travel. According to a recent study (A comparison of face-to-face and distance coaching practices, RM Berry, JS Ashby, PBGnilka, KB Matheny, 2011, Consulting Psychology Journal) there are no significant differences between face-to-face sessions and those that occur. In online coaching: the alliance that is created between coach and coachee is equally effective regardless of the method used.

The benefits of contacting an online coach are many:

  • the aforementioned better use of the time available, as physical movements are avoided that do not bring value to coaching as they take place outside the session

  • the possibility of reaching coachees who live in remote places

  • the ability to activate an online coaching path more quickly

  • the ease of "triggering" of an online coaching relationship, as all of us, are now used to video-calls or video-conferences, while we are less so when it comes to entering a room with a stranger to start a path of personal growth; the phenomenon of “online disinhibition” was studied by John Super, of Rider University (Psychology of the Digital Age, 2016, Cambridge University Press).

However, it is necessary to consider that in a remote session it is not possible to use all the aspects of non-verbal communication (posture, movements, ...) typical of a face-to-face meeting, and this aspect must be managed appropriately to relate spontaneously and effectively. Yet, unlike other tools such as chats, online video coaching sessions reproduce a context very similar to face-to-face meetings and can still guarantee high levels of empathy without generating misunderstandings.

Of course, unlike a coach who works face to face in his city (for example a coach in Bologna), the online coach engaged in a remote match will have to have in mind which techniques are most suitable for this type of context and which, on the other hand, set aside (for example, the exercises that require the coachee to change their posture or position are difficult to perform during a video session).

In other words: seeing is believing! It is very likely that after a trial session, everyone will be able to experience for themselves how effective online coaching can be!


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