Since 2020, it seems we now do everything online. Even things that were once only done in-person like happy hours and birthday parties have gone virtual. In a lot of ways, it’s a great thing – it makes an event accessible to friends and family members no matter where they live and helps those of us who are stuck at home feel a lot less disconnected. But what about your mental health needs? Would going to therapy online really replace the experience of sitting down in private with a mental health counselor?
In the last few years, a number of online counseling resources such as Talk Space and BetterHelp have cropped up as an alternative to face-to-face therapy sessions. These sites match patients with a licensed counselor based on schedule, therapy objectives, and the issues the patient is dealing with. Patient and therapist communicate through video conferencing, messaging, or phone calls.
This type of therapy has become so common that numerous studies have taken a look at the outcomes of patients participating in online therapy as far back as 2014. These studies found that online sessions were just as effective at treating depression and anxiety as sessions held in person. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was also found to be effective at treating social anxiety and panic disorder when sessions were held online. As far as affordability, online therapy also proved to cost the same or be more affordable for most patients.
As great as all of this sounds, there are still some aspects of therapy that can’t be recreated online. Therapists need to be able to see a person’s body language to accurately assess how they’re doing or provide a diagnosis, something that can be lost over the phone or through messaging. Calls and chat features can fail at crucial moments during therapy, leading to frustration for both the therapist and patient. And, perhaps most importantly for this blog, online therapy isn’t meant to treat psychosis or suicidal intentions.
What do you think? Would you give online therapy a try?