The pros and cons of online therapy and its role in our lives.
The approach of mental health services has significantly grown in the past decade. In recent years, something that has emerged is the development of a new means of providing treatment, which is none other than the internet. It has become an easy way for those people who want to deal with their emotions, learn about their past and get through tough times.
Online therapy sessions have quickly gained popularity and have reached the point of being preferred many times over in-person therapy. On the other hand, some existing reasons put online treatment in a limited position.
Most of you might wonder if the idea of online mental health services suits you better than in-person therapy. If you've ever considered using online therapy services, the following will hopefully give you some additional insight into whether it's better for you.
Get to know some essential facts about virtual therapy and gain a holistic overview!
But before everything...
We have to know what it is!
Summary of contents
- What is online therapy
- Online therapy as the best alternative in times of the Pandemic
- Online therapy as the easiest way towards psychotherapy
- Online therapy as the best solution for remote situations
- Online therapy as a choice that favors flexibility and availability
- Online therapy is more affordable
- What are the limitations of online therapy?
- You lose from the holistic experience
- Not ideal for severe mental disorders
- Security and privacy issues
- It's easier to hide the real you
- It might be a privilege
- In conclusion
Online therapy (also called e-therapy or teletherapy) can be described as a process where psychotherapy or counseling services can be delivered via the Internet. It provides people with a safe and confidential space to talk to a professional online about their emotional concerns and struggles.
It is a fairly new trend in the mental health community. It has gained much popularity since the 1990s when online forums began to be utilized by people suffering from depression and anxiety. However, online therapy has gained more and more ground since its inception due to the growing need for a more convenient alternative to traditional face-to-face therapy. It is an effective and affordable alternative for those who cannot access traditional therapy due to distance or financial reasons.
But let's dive into the topic!
So, what's good with Online Therapy (O.T.)?
If we want to summarize the advantages of online mental health services, we will end up with these main ideas:
O.T. as the best alternative in times of the pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to spend more time at home. Social gatherings were reduced, traffic bans were imposed, there was an increasing limitation in the capacity in places. Online therapy emerged as an alternative, as in-person encounters were significantly reduced. It proved to be a helpful alternative when in-person therapy was impossible due to pandemic restrictions.
All this isolation from friends and families brought people face-to-face to feelings of loneliness and sadness. Teletherapy made it feasible to combat these feelings by seeking new connections in the digital world.
In times like these, connecting with someone is an excellent tool for coping and staying sane. Reaching out to therapists, counselors, or any mental health care provider through video calls or texting was (and still is) life-saving. Thus, we can say that the pandemic promoted this way of treatment; correspondingly, this treatment was a weapon to deal with the pandemic, which adds a lot to the pros of virtual therapy.
O.T. as the easiest step towards psychotherapy
For those hesitant to take a step towards in-person therapy, meeting therapists online can relieve them from stress and increase the chances of someone starting treatment. Sometimes going to a therapist's office feels like a mountain to some people. The decision for psychotherapy isn't easy; it is usually slow to take.
The internet is often where people feel more ready for the opening and take the next step. Τhe fact that we are exposed to the virtual world from a very young age can benefit this concept. The virtual world can give a sense of intimacy to someone who does not yet feel ready to go to a psychotherapist for an in-person visit. It can offer feelings of security and convenience.
Online communication makes shy people feel more comfortable to open up; the option of texting your therapist gives you the facility to say precisely what you want to communicate via typing without letting the stress of talking in front of others bother you. Εven the anonymity provided by some online media can make you feel more comfortable when looking for a mental health care provider on the internet; it increases the chances of expressing yourself without second thoughts. After all, things roll more smoothly and to the point when they aren't forced.
O.T. as the perfect solution for remote situations
E-therapy is the appropriate solution for those who are unable for practical reasons to move from their homes and go to the place where the in-person therapy sessions are provided. For example, people injured or disabled have difficulty moving around because of physical limitations. A significant fact is that cities are not properly designed to serve people with disabilities, so it is probably easier for them to follow the online way than being careful in stress.
Even parents with busy lives and many daily obligations might find it easier to do remote therapy sessions as they will save time from the extra transportation. In addition, people who live far away in isolated places with no in-person therapy chances have no other choice but to take up online sessions for their mental health struggles.
Virtual therapy is the perfect solution when there is no option for mobility or extra time. You don't have to leave your home and go to a particular location. You can even do it in the comfort of your bed!
O.T. as a choice that favors flexibility and availability
Finding support for your mental health issues can be done on a computer or a mobile device (also known as phone therapy). You can do this when you have time, and you don't have to feel like you are tied to a schedule. You can log in whenever you want; people are there for you 24/7. You don't have to worry about finding an available therapist; you can wait for one to become available. It can be done anywhere, at any time, with a click of a button! There are no waiting lists to discourage you.
This flexibility and availability matter a lot in emergencies too. You will never feel hopeless; there can always be somebody next to you. It can save you from wasting mental energy, as you will not have to constantly think about that personal thing that concerns you until the next up-close appointment with your therapist.
Plus, think about places with bad weather conditions. Isn't it easier to click a button instead of waiting until the storm stops?
O.T. is more affordable
The expenses of mental health services can be overwhelming for some people. Teletherapy can cost you much less than traditional treatment. It is a great option because you can still get the same results as with traditional but in a much less expensive way. Except for those sites where you can talk with a licensed therapist, many websites offer counseling services and emotional support for free online. They are supported by volunteers who care about your mental health, and the only way to reach you is on the internet.
About the face-to-face treatment sessions, you usually have to pay every time at the end of your appointment. On the internet, there are many offers for cheaper services. Some websites can give you a discount package of services for a particular period. For example, if you book a treatment package for 1-month trial therapy via video chat, you can pay the money altogether at some point, and, for sure less in total than what you would pay at the in-person appointments.
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There are many reasons to consider online therapy, and you can still get all the benefits you would get from a face-to-face session. It can help improve many different areas of your life, but does it work better than traditional therapy?
What Are the Limitations of Online Therapy?
Let's face the truth. Of course, an option can be handy for a certain amount of people, but each thing comes with its' deficiencies; such is e-therapy. On about the cons of seeking online help, the basic points can be the following ones:
You lose from the holistic experience
Therapy is an integral part of the human experience and can be one of the most effective tools for helping people to overcome personal issues and achieve change. For this personal change to come, small parts of the process make up the whole experience, which is important for the best possible result. The human connection you get in in-person therapy can be that small part of the whole and add to the holistic experience.
This feeling is created when you sit face-to-face with the therapy provider and see their genuine interest in you. The bond is stronger because everything is directly available, the connection is already there, you don't have to wait for the app to load to... connect! Online therapy usually lacks that feeling. It is challenging to get the real sense of approval or to accept a gesture of support that would have happened in person.
Not ideal for severe mental disorders
Some mental illnesses make it difficult for some people to reach for help online. A person who's diagnosed with schizophrenia, for example, may find it challenging to organize their thoughts in a logical order and express them on the treatment site. These sites can sometimes feel like limitations as they are not customized according to diversity and individuality. Ιt is recommended for those dealing with a major issue to better include more sources in the treatment plan and consider online therapy as a source of them all.
Security and privacy issues
When you seek treatment online, you are faced with some potential risks. You have to be careful of the security and privacy of your personal data when navigating the websites.
Many things could be done to keep your data safe. Ensure that the website where you want to ask for support has the right to access your information. Type it on google and see reviews; this will help you know if others also use it. Check to see that the people who work at the company are properly trained and using the correct protocol to safeguard your data. In addition, make sure that the website is secure and don't give your credit card or your social security number without being sure about the services you are getting.
It's easier to hide the real you
Because in online therapy, you may not show yourself completely, issues may arise in the evaluation of the session or in the effort to support. For example, in a video call or video chat, important points (such as body-posture) may be hidden, which can be important elements for the overall image that your therapist will have of you. Similarly, in texting therapy, you can give completely different signs of who you are to the one who is called to help you at the moment. Situations like this can lead to shortcomings and misunderstandings, which would not have happened in cases of in-person therapy.
It might be a privilege
The truth is we live in a world where technology has taken on enormous proportions in our lives, and we take it for granted that everyone has access to the internet. This may be a misconception, as people do not have the financial means to access the internet. There are often people who are not so familiar with the means of technology, and even if they want to start online therapy, they do not know how.
Seeking mental health support online can be exclusionary towards children too. Young people do not have the maturity to use these means to their advantage, or they are not allowed by their parents to use technology means so often; so, their only option is traditional therapy. In cases like the above, online therapy can work as a privilege and be intended for a few.
Here to remind you that: be sure you are looking for the right service, even online! There is a difference between forums and websites where volunteers or people who have been in your shoes support you emotionally and websites where you come in contact with licensed and qualified therapists, such as our friends over at BetterHelp.
Both online and in-person therapy is just as important and valuable. Online therapy can be beneficial for several reasons that are stated above. People can find answers online. Nowadays, the attention that has been given to the development of internet tools for the facilitation of our lives has positively affected areas like those of therapy.
In-person therapy has been working effectively for many years and is a solid solution for those who need it. This solution has its positive elements and a value that can not be underestimated.
We can say for sure and be proud that different people with different needs find their way to (e) therapy's paths.
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