If you are given a chance to choose between online therapy sitting at home in your comfort zone and visit the therapy center, which one would you choose? Most of us will choose the former.
These days, online therapy is getting more attention with passing the time. Most importantly, the reason for the popularity of online therapy is definitely the pandemic, which forced us to our homes and look for help remotely.
People often wonder and ask, ‘Does online therapy work?’ and to answer it in one word, ‘yes.’ It does work but of course, to an extent. Online therapy comes with its own pros and cons that you need to be aware of.
What is online therapy?
Online therapy involves counseling through email, phone, video-conferencing, etc. Although online therapy has its own challenges, its users claim it to be quite useful. However, online therapy is not for everyone.
Online therapy hasn’t replaced traditional therapy yet. Instead, online therapy vs. traditional therapy is an ongoing debate that will take quite some time to come to a conclusion.
Till then, take a look at some major pros and cons of online therapy that will help you make an informed decision.
Pros of Online Therapy
There’s a reason many prefer taking their therapy sessions online. Here are the good parts of online therapy:
Traveling to your therapist’s office, even when it is situated far from your residence, will always take time while sitting at home or wherever you are, and getting help online is convenient and save you loads of time.
Accessibility to all
If you have physical limitations, it will be easier for you. Visiting a therapist every week can be challenging as you will require help from others – be it a family member or your care-taker, which is not always easy either way.
Many online therapy sessions allow you to stay anonymous. They provide you with security and privacy. Sometimes people don’t want their friends and family to worry about them signing up for therapy. It helps them get therapy without anyone’s knowing.
One of the other benefits of online therapy is comfort. Staying anonymous or being in their comfort zone can help people open up more than they would do sitting in their therapist’s office.
Lots of options
With online therapy, you can choose the therapist you would like to have a session with. From a wide range of therapists all over the world that provides online counseling becomes your choice. But in traditional therapy, you have access to the ones situated in your city or maybe your next city.
Cons of Online Therapy
While it has its own pros, there are still some gaps that need to be in light:
Sure the sites and your therapy allow you to stay anonymous. But what about the personal information transmitted online by your network providers?
The internet is full of scammers and hackers who are looking just for one vulnerability in your system to break in. Sites that aren’t reputable can hardly be expected to keep their client’s information safe. Especially the ones that claim to provide free counseling.
Issues like mental health are specially kept confidential and are mostly at high risk.
Sometimes the technology can also create issues like network problems creating hindrance while chatting or having an online call.
Online therapy can be costly for various reasons. For example, your insurance company might not cover online therapy sessions. And paying for therapy session are costly, even for traditional therapy.
Online therapies can be less effective or less insightful for the therapist. Although anonymity serves as a plus for the privacy issues, it also restricts your therapist to gain insights from your facial expressions or body language. Body languages are often helpful to understand the patient more than words.
Not appropriate for all mental health issues
Online therapy can be useful, only to a point. For example, it cannot be expected to be effective if anyone has a severe mental crisis. Or if someone has a severe psychiatric illness. Most serious illness requires close reviewing and treatment.
Ethical and legal concerns
Since online therapy includes therapists’ involvement from all over the world, it makes enforcement of legal and legal codes difficult. Different states or countries have different licensing requirements or treatment guidelines appropriate mostly to their own countries. For these reasons, online therapy can be messy. You will have to consider and understand their qualifications and experience before starting treatment with your online therapist.
Is online therapy as effective as a traditional one?
After discussing the pros and cons of online counseling, we have come to the obvious next part of the topic: Is online therapy as effective as traditional therapy?
While online therapy is growing its popularity with various advantages and disadvantages, some serious challenges cannot be overlooked — the unavailability of reading the body language, for example. Body language tells a lot about the person and their unexpressed feelings. Often, trauma doesn’t only affect mental health but also the body.
One other challenge presented by online therapy that will require more attention in the future is the safety from the internet. There’s no guarantee that your personal and confidential information will be safe from prying eyes without encryption.
So, that brings us to the answer, even though it cannot be straightforward ‘no.’ The debate on Online therapy vs. face to face will go on for a long time. Still, for now, online therapy is nowhere near to taking over traditional therapy, which brings us to the fact that it is not as effective as traditional therapy.
Who should opt for online therapy?
Online services are those who aren’t having immediate or severe mental health issues. People with post-partum depression, anxiety, stressed over workload, family or relationship problems can use online therapy and get effective results.
Most online therapists or on-board psychologists don’t prescribe medications. If you are experiencing anxiety or depression or thoughts you cannot control, you can call your therapist and seek help.
Whether online therapy is for you or not depends on the severity of your illness and if you need medication for it. Learn if online therapy is right for you and your needs. While considering the pros and cons of online therapy, it all comes down to what you prefer and find comfortable – in-person therapy or a virtual one.