The world of mental health treatments is ever-evolving and online therapy has become an increasingly popular option for those looking to manage their own mental health. In this blog post, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing online counselling and therapy in order to better understand if it’s the right choice for you or someone you love.
The Benefits of Online Therapy
Accessing online therapy can be the key to finding a supportive treatment plan that fits your lifestyle and needs.
Accessibility – no need to leave home or take time off work, online therapy is convenient and can be done anytime and anywhere.
Anonymity – the anonymity of the internet gives those seeking help protection from judgement or stigma associated with mental health issues.
Affordable – many services offer lower rates than traditional in-person therapy and may have a sliding scale for those who cannot afford regular therapy sessions.
Flexible Scheduling – online therapy can accommodate busy schedules as sessions can be scheduled around your available times instead of having to stick to specific office hours or wait times for an appointment.
Wider Access to Specialized Services – access to a wider range of specialized services such as neurotherapy, art therapy, drama, music, etc., is available with online therapists who are certified in these areas.
Comfort and Ease of Home Environment – being able to receive counsel and express feelings in a safe and comfortable environment makes it easier to open up about personal experiences that may be difficult to discuss in an office setting with a stranger present.
Different Modes of Communication – some online services offer audio/video chat options so you’re not limited to text messaging if more visual communication methods work best for you; phone calls are also available depending on the service provider chosen.
Privacy and Convenience – online sessions give clients ultimate privacy no matter where they are located. There is also no need to spend time traveling back and forth between their home/workplace and an office location for every counselling session, which could become costly when appointments require frequent visits.
Support System Monitoring and Follow Up Care – many providers offer follow up monitoring systems that allow clients to keep track of progress made during their individual sessions as well as continued support after completion through community forums, blog posts, newsletters, etc., offering valuable insight into recovery journey outcomes even without having face-to-face contact with counselors regularly (if needed).
An Increase in Innovative Treatments & Accessibility – due to the rise in popularity of online therapy services more innovative treatments such as virtual reality tools are becoming available giving clients added accessibility and flexibility when seeking psychological assistance. This includes being able to connect with professionals from all around world, allowing individuals greater choice when selecting counselors based on experience rather than geographical limitations.
The Disadvantages of Virtual Counselling
Online therapy and counselling can be a great option for many people, but there are some potential drawbacks to consider.
Lack of physical connection: One drawback of online therapy is that it does not provide the benefit of face to face interaction and physical connection between patient and therapist.
Limited access to resources: While online therapy can be accessible from anywhere at any time, it may limit your access to additional resources such as books, seminars or contact with other professionals in the field of mental health.
Technical challenges: Accessing online therapy requires a reliable Internet connection and technical knowledge to use video-based applications or other communications tools.
Privacy concerns: There’s always an inherent risk with sharing sensitive information online, even if encryption technologies are used.
Reduced empathy: Online therapists may struggle to empathize with patients in the same way as a more traditional therapist due to lack of eye contact and physical touch/connection during sessions.
Diagnosis difficulties: Online therapists cannot conduct in depth tests or physically observe facial expressions and mannerisms when assessing a patient which can create difficulties with diagnosing certain conditions accurately or completely understanding all aspects of an individual’s symptomology.
Limitations on therapeutic techniques: Certain therapeutic techniques require in person components such as role playing exercises or art therapy activities which cannot be completed remotely via online platforms without sacrificing quality
Which types of therapy work best online?
Below, we’ll explore which types of therapy are best suited for the online setting:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT works well in an online setting as it focuses on direct communication between patient and therapist and requires little or no physical contact.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): Although DBT typically includes group elements, the individual components of this therapy such as coaching skills, mindfulness practices, distress tolerance can be adapted to virtual formats with relative success.
Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT): SFT encourages clients to focus on developing achievable goals that can be tracked and completed without the need for physical contact or reliance on resources not easily available in a remote setting.
Narrative Therapy: This type of therapy relies heavily on conversation for effective progress and is therefore able to be conducted relatively easily over a video call or using messaging platforms such as Zoom or Skype.
Telecounseling/Telepsychology: Telecounseling/telepsychology focus on providing counseling sessions over the phone or via a web-based platform such as Skype or Zoom and can be used to provide support with issues such as anxiety and depression in a remote setting.
Psychoeducation: Psychoeducation involves educating clients about their condition, treatments plans etc., which is easily achievable online through lectures, slideshows and other materials shared during sessions via platforms like Zoom or Skype etc
Finding the right therapist for you
If you’re considering online therapy, it’s important to do your research and find a therapist who you feel comfortable with. Here are some tips:
- Make sure the therapist is licensed in your state.
- Check if they have experience with treating your specific problem.
- Find out what type of therapy they practice (CBT, DBT, etc.) and make sure it’s a good fit for you.
- Make sure you feel comfortable with their communication style. Do they respond quickly to emails? Are they available for video chat?
- Ask about their confidentiality policy.
- Check if they offer a free consultation.
Once you have found a therapist you feel comfortable with and who understands your needs, get started, but remember to be patient – it might take a few sessions to get used to the format and to really feel like you’re making progress.
If you’re not sure where to start, ask your doctor for a referral or look for a therapist who specializes in the type of problem you’re dealing with. With the right help, you can overcome whatever is holding you back in life.