In-person psychotherapy (IPP) has a long and storied past, but technology advances have ushered in a new era of video-delivered psychotherapy (VDP). In this meta-analysis, pre-post changes within VDP were evaluated as were outcome differences between VDP versus IPP or other comparison groups. A literature search identified k = 56 within-group studies (N = 1681 participants) and 47 between-group studies (N = 3564). The pre-post effect size of VDP was large and highly significant, g = +0.99 95% CI [0.67-0.31]. VDP was significantly better in outcome than wait list controls (g = 0.77) but negligible in difference from IPP. Within-groups heterogeneity of effect sizes was reduced after subgrouping studies by treatment target, of which anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (each with k > 5) had effect sizes nearing 1.00. Disaggregating within-groups studies by therapy type, the effect size was 1.34 for CBT and 0.66 for non-CBT. Adjusted for possible publication bias, the overall effect size of VDP within groups was g = 0.54. In conclusion, substantial and significant improvement occurs from pre- to post-phases of VDP, this in turn differing negligibly from IPP treatment outcome. The VDP improvement is most pronounced when CBT is used, and when anxiety, depression, or PTSD are targeted, and it remains strong though attenuated by publication bias. Clinically, therapy is no less efficacious when delivered via videoconferencing than in-person, with efficacy being most pronounced in CBT for affective disorders. Live psychotherapy by video emerges not only as a popular and convenient choice but also one that is now upheld by meta-analytic evidence.
Keywords: affective disorders; cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT); face-to-face; meta-analysis; online treatment; video-delivered psychotherapy.
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.