Online therapy means that an interaction has occurred between a licensed mental health care specialist and a client, where both are in separate or remote locations and utilize digital technology modes to communicate with each other.
In contrast to in-person sessions with a therapist, this kind of e-therapy involves providing mental health treatment via phone, chat, video conferencing, email or a combination of such media tools,to help the patient at the other end to overcome their problems and difficulties.
Types of online counseling
Online therapy includes options for different mental health conditions and multiple effective therapies to guide a client on the road to recovery as well as a convenient alternative to in-person treatment.
Just as treatments in these fields are constantly evolving, so are the online available options for treating co-occurring mental health conditions. Each year, new online therapy services are popping up all over the world.
Through an online counseling session, one can interact with various mental health professionals who are adept in the fields of psychiatry, nursing, counseling, psychology and social working.
A counselor, for example, may help identify ways to avoid triggers of relapse, while a psychiatrist can prescribe medication-based treatment for a person to attain and sustain recovery.
Is online therapy effective?
The recent requirements of social distancing have mandated that most therapy should take place over online chat platforms rather than the traditional face-to-face meeting.
However, those who have made the switch to online appointments are still in a quandary about whether this mode of treatment is as effective as meeting a clinician in person.
After all, how well online therapy works is dependent on many factors to determine the level of success you may achieve, the level of connection you can make with your therapist, how much you are able to open up and finally how much work you are willing to contribute in the process.
Apart from attending sessions, you need to apply what you are learning to real-life situations in order to make the necessary healthy changes to your lifestyle.
Remember, no therapist whether online or in-person can do the healing for you unless you yourself do the hard work and make use of the available technology to change your life for the better.
Online therapy vs in-person therapy
Since online therapy can take different forms, the pros and cons as compared to traditional face to face therapy can vary with each. Apart from personal interaction, there are other aspects to consider when comparing both online and offline therapy.
- Convenience: With options for virtual connection like chat or email, one can contact a therapist from anywhere at any time. Moreover, online services can provide therapeutic support quickly and hassle-free.
- Cost: Therapists who offer their services over online platforms usually charge lower monthly rates when booking multiple sessions at the same time.
- Reduced stigma: Online therapy offers complete privacy and no one will come to know about your therapy sessions if you choose to remain anonymous. Also no one can see you heading off for an online session appointment.
- Access: Online therapy is suitable for those who experience difficulty in commuting for in-person therapy. Additionally, by connecting virtually eliminates the social anxieties associated with sharing places with others physically.
The downsides of online therapy
As with all things in life, while online therapy is booming across the world, the treatment has its limitations as well. Some things to consider before opting for online therapy are:
- Internet connectivity: Online sessions, especially through video conferencing work best only if the internet connection is reliable. Any interference may result in either one or both you and your therapist losing service.Your therapist should clarify alternate modes of communication as a standby if internet service is lost during the course of a session.
- Care is limited: In spite of online therapy being proved effective in most mental health related issues, there may be some serious health conditions that can only be treated by in-person therapy. Some therapists who look to supplement their income using online platforms, may suffer from burnout, leading to lower care quality.
- Ineffective communication: When you use digital tools to communicate with your therapist, more often than not the depth of understanding with the therapist is limited. This is because your clinician has no clue about your body language and other non verbal signs, since you are not physically there.
Both online and face-to-face therapy allow users to access mental health care by providing the support best suited to their needs.
While virtual sessions allow you to connect with a therapist from the comfort of your chosen private space, in-person therapy allows you to express your mental health needs in a supportive and neutral environment.
Online therapy may require that you investigate the privacy policies of your selected platform for security reasons, as therapists use a variety of platforms with different levels of services.
Once your mental health requirements have guided you through the selection of therapy options, you can consider starting your treatment.