If you’ve been thinking about going to therapy, but somehow you haven’t managed to contact a therapist and begin treatment, you are not alone. There are many reasons why people put off therapy: stigma, accessibility, cost. In recent years, online therapy services have seen a significant rise in popularity.
Although online therapy does not aim to replace traditional, face to face therapy, it seems to be a better fit for many people that would otherwise be reluctant to seek mental health services. But why is that and what are the main differences between online therapy and face to face therapy? This is what we’re going to explore in this article.
By now, we’ve become more familiar with what being in therapy involves. We go to our therapist’s office and talk to them about our lives, our feelings and thought processes. As patterns begin to emerge, together, we work to figure out the causes and find ways to increase our well-being.
The goal of online therapy is the same, but the medium differs. You can communicate with your therapist through video conferencing platforms, telephone conversations, real-time chat, text messages or emails. Often it’s a combination of several of these options. Clients will send texts to their therapists throughout the week, and they’ll also have one or two weekly live video sessions.
Considering the limitations of using the internet to conduct therapy sessions, you may be wondering if it’s as effective. The research we have so far suggests that online therapy is just as effective as traditional therapy for a number of mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety disorder. However, it is not appropriate for people going through a crisis and who are experiencing severe symptoms.
You will notice that when you apply for online therapy services, you are given a short questionnaire that includes this aspect. Most of the questions are there to assess what type of therapist would best match your needs and make the right recommendations.
We already mentioned that there are many factors keeping people from seeing a therapist. One of these factors is lack of access. It can be because you live in a remote area, and there simply aren’t that many therapists within a reasonable distance. Individuals with mobility issues will also have a harder time getting to a therapist. Here we’re including people with physical disabilities as well as older adults who would benefit from psychotherapy or counselling sessions but find it difficult to leave their home.
Those dealing with symptoms of social anxiety will be more likely to opt for online therapy than traditional therapy. There’s something about being in the comfort of your own home that makes people open up more easily.
With traditional face to face therapy, you talk to your therapist only during sessions. You can still call them in case of an emergency, and they’ll try to schedule an additional session for that week. This means that if you’ve had a bad day or you realized something related to your previous discussion, you will have to wait until your next session to tell them about it.
With online therapy, since you can use several tools like video conferencing and text messages, you can reach out right away. This is especially useful at the beginning of treatment when you haven’t had enough time to develop strong coping skills, and you need more support.