Online therapy basically means that a licensed healthcare professional is providing mental health services to a client through a communication device, when both the parties are in different or remote locations.
This treatment is most commonly provided through live video sessions or video conferencing, as it is the closest to a real life face-to-face session with a healthcare professional in a traditional therapist’s office.
That said, there are other digital modes that can also be used for online therapy treatment, such as telephone, messaging, email or chat and virtual reality technology, but there is not enough evidence to suggest their effectiveness versus traditional treatments.
How Does It Work?
Current evidence suggests that for many people online therapy can be just as effective as traditional in-person counseling, despite the fact that this is a much newer form of treatment.
While the methods of mental health care have their potential plus points and drawbacks, how well online therapy works also depends on factors like how much you are able to open up and the level of connection with your therapist.
Pros Of Online Therapy
Consulting a therapist online from the security of your home may make the patient open up far more readily about their problem. Moreover, online therapy allows you to communicate with your dedicated healthcare provider from anywhere in the world, thus saving on money, travel time and inconvenience of having to travel to and fro for a physical appointment.
Online therapy services allow both the counselor and the client a lot of flexibility with regards to scheduling. This is crucial for single parents, college students who have changing schedules and rural areas of the US where quality care is hard to come by.
Online therapy allows you to choose a qualified therapist of your choice from a much wider range of candidates, which in turn guides you to one which may be most suited to your needs, something that is impossible if you are in a remote area. An increase in choice also means that you can keep changing your therapist until you find the perfect match.
Normally a traditional meeting with a therapist takes place once in a week, and that too for no more than an hour at the most. Because of this you might not recall what the doctor said or everything you have been through in the preceding week. Nowadays, top therapy sites such as Talkspace, offer clients guaranteed responses 24/7.
Connections with your therapist online leaves behind a trail of messages that enables the client to articulate emotions and problems as they arose in real time. Keeping track of messages is also useful in monitoring progress and any potential setbacks.
Again, there are many persons who feel ashamed of approaching a mental health specialist for treating their issues.They find it much easier to connect with a therapist online because of the total privacy it provides. When interacting for mental health consultation online there is no fear of bumping into someone you know, which might be the case in the therapist’s parking lot or even the office.
In the United States, for example, health insurance companies have now begun to cover online therapy, making it very cost-effective. Depending on your income, you may benefit further via a community based clinic to access low-cost online therapy.
Many of the obstacles that do not allow people to access in-person therapy are eliminated through the convenience of online therapy.
Downsides Of Online Therapy
Needless to say, like other healthcare treatments, online therapy too has a number of drawbacks. While connecting with a therapist through a communication device may sound comfortable, it robs your service provider of gauging the tone of your voice and the all important body language.
Lack of physical connection can also make it much tougher to build up trust and rapport between the counselor and the client, which is a critical element of effective therapy. Things like foot-tapping or picking up other signals can be lost on the video.
Online therapy depends totally on the internet and a fast and reliable connection. If the connectivity is poor, there is every likelihood that the quality of the video streaming will be interrupted and affect your video chat with your healthcare provider.This can happen to even the most advanced electronic devices and broadband connections.
When seeking mental health services online, there is an inherent risk of falling prey to somebody who is either inexperienced or unqualified for the task in hand.
Online Therapy Is Not Right For All
Online therapy, no doubt, is on the rise and indications are that the upward trend will continue for a long time, but there are some situations where the traditional physical consultation is preferable to online treatment.
Person’s suffering from severe mental issues like schizophrenia or those facing a crisis situation and feeling suicidal or those with an intellectual disability, will find it much better to work with a therapist in-person, rather than through distance counseling.
What Does This Mean For The Consumer?
Effects of burnout are still being felt by many people from the tolls of the pandemic. It is therefore crucial to assess the efficacy of online therapy treatment.
Internet Cognitive Behavioral Therapy services have proved to be very effective in treating mild to moderate depression but not recommended for severe depression.
CBT works by focusing as to how thoughts and behaviors dictate the feelings of a person in any given situation.
A number of different techniques may be included in CBT like exposure, social skills training, cognitive resurrection, journaling and relaxation training.
The Bottom Line
Remember, no therapist either online or offline can do the hard job of healing and growth for you entirely, unless you apply what you are learning to real-life situations.
However, a good therapist can certainly use the available tools and resources at disposal to help you gain novel insights which in turn will change your life for the better.
Explain ot in brief
Discuss the pros and cons
Mention CBT as the most effective method for online counceling.