If you have watched television lately, you may have seen a commercial or two about using online therapy. With more and more people staying home, online therapy is becoming a more widely used way to get help for psychological issues over the computer or a smartphone.
What is Online Therapy?
Online therapy allows people with minor psychological issues to connect with a therapist through a video service or through emails, texts, online chats, or messaging. The conversations between the therapist and patient can take place synchronously or asynchronously. If they are asynchronous, they usually take place through emails.
Who Would Be a Good Fit for Online Therapy?
Online therapy is not for everyone, but many people do benefit from having access to therapists at the click of a button. Online therapy is ideal for people who live in remote, rural areas and do not have therapists near their homes. It is also ideal for people who are homebound for various reasons.
Online therapy is good for people who are busy and unable to get away from work or caring for their loved ones. People who want to use online therapy need to have a reliable internet connection and a computer or smartphone that can access the therapist’s platform.
Online therapy is great for people who are comfortable communicating via writing or video chats.
What is the Advantage and Disadvantage of Online Therapy?
There are several advantages and disadvantages to any work that is done virtually. The number one advantage is that people who cannot get to a therapist traditionally can get to one through a computer. Online therapy has opened doors for people who are homebound or in rural communities.
Online therapy also offers anonymity for people who might not visit a therapist in person. Despite more people being comfortable talking about mental health, there is still a stigma that some people find it difficult to overcome. Online services are usually affordable, so people without insurance can get the help they need.
Another big advantage involves convenience. People who cannot get to a therapist for a face-to-face meeting can often find time for a virtual one. So, it is easier for people to schedule virtual meetings, and these meetings often take less time.
There are some drawbacks to online therapy. One is that it isn’t for people who have life-threatening psychological disorders or are suicidal or psychotic. Therapists struggle with assessing facial cues or other nuances when working virtually. Sadly, sometimes calls are dropped or written conversations are misunderstood.
Another potential drawback is that some people might say they are therapists but aren’t licensed or qualified to provide therapy at all. There are also some sites that want to take advantage of patients and share their information with others. Online therapists are not always able to help when situations become dire.
Is Online Therapy as Effective as in Person?
Amanda Levison, a therapist in Harrisburg PA practicing at the Neurofeedback & Counseling Center of Pennsylvania says, “Online therapy is just as effective as in-person therapy, but not for everyone. The effectiveness of online therapy is dependent on the patient and the therapist. Not every therapist is good at reading body language and voice tones through video chat, but others excel at it. Therapists and patients do need to develop relationships, and that can be done virtually, but it can be challenging for some people.”
Does Online Therapy Work?
Online therapy is effective for people who are suffering from depression. It has also proven to be effective for people who have social disorders like anxiety and panic disorder. Of course, for any form of therapy to work, the therapist and patient have to work together and develop a relationship.
How Much Does Online Therapy Cost?
Online therapy is available at several price points. Some websites offer membership fees that could be as little as $35 per week or as much as $80 per week, while others charge a per-session rate. Online therapy usually starts around $40 for messaging, while video chats are between $60 and $100.