Modern medicine meets modern technology with online therapy! While online therapy is a valid option for many struggling with their mental health, just like everything there are pros and cons to it. So what is online therapy? Basically, it’s a way to receive online mental health therapy or counseling in a remote and secure way over video call (like Google Meets) or text messaging with any internet-connected device.
What Are the Pros?
It’s Just as Effective! Online counseling is just as effective, if not more effective, than in-person therapy. Studies have shown that online therapy is equally as effective at treating mental health issues like moderate depression, panic and anxiety disorders, and even gambling problems.
It’s Perfect for Remote Locations. Online therapy is an ideal option for potential patients living in remote or rural areas. Having to drive miles to your closest counselor not just takes time out of your day, but can have a negative impact on your mental health as well. If you have a stable internet connection, online therapy can be the best option for patients in remote and rural areas and they can achieve mental health help from the comfort of their own homes!
It’s All About Accessibility. Online therapy is great for those with accessibility issues. Mobility can be a significant hurdle in getting the mental health help that someone might need, and online counseling provides the solution.
It’s Affordable and Convenient. Online therapy is typically more affordable than traditional therapy outlets. With online therapy, you can schedule sessions around your personal day for a time that is perfect for you all from your home! Many states require health insurance companies to cover online therapy, but always be sure to check with your personal insurance company to ensure your coverage. Many online therapists don’t have overhead costs such as office space and staffing and are able to take clients who lack insurance.
It’s Approachable. The internet has made mental health counseling more approachable, as many people are more comfortable talking online instead of in person. When talking to a therapist from home, it can be a more relaxing experience to receive treatment in a familiar environment and lead to more successful counseling sessions
It’s Confidential. Nobody will ever see you going into a therapist’s office or know your business with online therapy, making it the perfect solution for those in tight-knit communities or places with a stigma against mental health counseling.
What Are the Cons?
Some Insurance Companies Won’t Cover It. Unfortunately, some insurance companies may not cover online therapy resources depending on your state. Some online therapists only accept certain insurances as well, and paying for online therapy out of pocket can quickly add up.
Some States Only Allow Same-State Providers. Depending on your state, you may need to take the time to find a therapist in your state to provide mental health services. Not every state allows out-of-state providers to practice in their state, and several online providers utilize counselors from all over the country. You’ll have to make sure that your therapist is licensed in your state.
There are Technical Issues. Online therapy can be subject to spotty internet connections or bad devices, causing sessions to end abruptly and getting the mental health solution that you need difficult. While privacy is just as important for online counseling as it is for in-person, your personal data is still being sent over the internet and is a potential target for bad actors like hackers.
Crisis Response is Limited. Due to the distance, most online counselors have from their patients, responding to crisis events can get complicated. Different time zones and long distances can make it difficult if not impossible for online therapists to get quick help to patients in crisis. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
It’s Not Great for Serious Mental Illness. Online therapy is useful for many mental health situations, but it’s not useful for those that require more direct interventions that may struggle with more serious psychological issues. The scope of online therapy is limited, and if you suffer from a more complex mental condition, in-person counseling could be more appropriate.
It Can Overlook Body Language. If using text-based online therapy, your provider won’t be able to pick up on your body languages such as facial expressions, vocal signals, or other body language indicators. These signals can help your therapist get a better understanding of your situation and feelings.
Is it Ethical? Online therapy eliminates the obstacle of geographic borders, letting providers treat patients from anywhere in the world. This could bypass your state regulations for mental health providers, so be sure to verify your counselor’s experience and credentials before proceeding with online therapy.