Online therapy, or online counselling as some call it, is a relatively new option for obtaining help for mental health issues, with a growing body of research supporting its effectiveness. Below a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of online therapy so that you can make the best choice for yourself.
What is online counselling or therapy?
Online therapy means receiving help for mental health issues via the Internet by video, phone, live chat or email. In practice, many online therapists also offer therapy by phone and offline. Video, phone and live chat therapy occur in real time by appointment. Email counselling rather involves an exchange of emails over time. The main point is that online therapy occurs at a distance rather than with the client and therapist in the same room as it is the case with traditional therapy.
Advantages and disadvantages of online counselling
Online therapy is not intended to replace traditional therapy but rather offers additional options and certain advantages and disadvantages compared with traditional therapy.
Advantages of online counselling:
- With online therapy you can engage in therapy from the privacy, comfort and convenience of your home or wherever you are if you have Internet access or a phone
- You can engage in therapy with the same therapist even if your lifestyle or job requires you to move around a lot.
- You get a much larger choice of therapists – Without the limit of your immediate geographic area, you can choose from licensed therapists all across your country or even across the world.
- You can work with an native-sepaking therapist form your own culture even if you live or work in a non-naitive-speaking country.
- You get the ability to find a therapist that has expertise on your very particular issue and/or who is knowledgeable about your specific background.
- You can engage in therapy even if you/re home bound, have no reliable transportation, or live in a remote area where traditional counselling is unavailable.
- Many clients say, that they chose online therapy because the distance makes it feel less intimidating.
- Online therapy is typically less expensive that traditional therapy, because in traditional therapy the rent of the place is typically one main cost element.
- Online counselling allows couples/family counseling across distances, if one or more family members travel and/or live at different places.
- Live chat therapy and email therapy, which are done trough text, are great options for some persons in special situations.
Disadvantages of online counselling:
- The scarcity of non-verbal cues such as body language, facial expressions and voice tone, particularly with live chat therapy and email counselling is the biggest disadvantage
- Insurance companies might not be ready to pay for online therapy.
- You must be careful to make sure that your online therapist is who he or she says she is
- Sometimes technology disrupts therapy, what can be frustrating for both client and therapists
- Online therapy does pose some extra-risks to confidentiality
I hope this article has helped you understand the benefits and risks, pro and cons of online therapy. I you are interested to start such a therapy, you'll find more information about my online counselling offering on my website offer and you can contact me accordingly.