Online Therapy: What You Need to Know About Online Counseling

online counseling

Here’s an undeniable truth a lot of us don’t like to talk about: we all have problems. We suffer from emotional turmoil—post-breakup, mid-job change, as a consequence of depression… you get the idea. And often, to cope with these unfavorable circumstances and difficult feelings, we need to reach outside of ourselves. Sometimes talking to a trusted friend or family member does the trick, but at others, it takes talking to a more skilled professional. Or more specifically, a licensed counselor.

With the click of a mouse or the tap of an app, you can have instant and inexpensive access to a therapist, or so make the claims of many new tools and technologies that want to take psychotherapy out of the therapist’s office and into whatever location you are connected to the Internet. Using the Web can be convenient for many people who are comfortable using the Internet and looking for help.

Does Online Therapy Really Work?

Online therapy works. Whether you call it online therapy, e-therapy, virtual therapy, or internet counseling, it works.

Based on my research, I can tell you without a doubt that:

☛ Online therapy is healing and supportive. It’s just as effective as in-office therapy when it comes to healing from the inside out.

☛ A strong person-to-person connection does happen through online counseling.

☛ Healing and expanding confidently into your offline world happens through online therapy.

Is online therapy right for you?

Of course, online therapy isn’t for everybody. That goes without saying.

But for the most part, I think virtual therapy sessions can work for just anybody.

It’s almost easier to talk about who online therapy won’t work for.

Who shouldn’t do online therapy?

If you’re not sure if online therapy is right for you, look over this checklist.

If you are currently in crisis. 

If your situation is urgent, call 911 or go to the emergency room. If you are in danger of hurting yourself or someone else, or you don’t feel safe, you need critical care that can only be provided in a physical clinical setting.

If you aren’t motivated to do the work. 

Working online with a counselor won’t do much for you if you’re not going to put in the intensive effort therapy can require.

If you can’t commit to creating an emotionally safe space in the real world. 

You’ll need to share and have access to help on your side in case of an emergency. You’ll also need a calm and quiet place to meet.

If technology is just too frustrating for you, or you just don’t have reliable access to tech. 

You’ll need some computer know-how to make virtual therapy work. You’ll also need an actual computer (or smartphone) and internet access. A web camera and headphones are also required. If all of that sounds like too much for you, then online therapy is not for you.

If you’re just not comfortable doing emotionally challenging work with someone who isn’t physically “there.” 

You know in your gut if you’ll struggle to open up to someone who isn’t right there with you. But, in this case, I would urge you to try it out before voting no. If you click with the right therapist, you may find it’s not such a problem.

What are the benefits of meeting with a therapist online?

Web therapy has a lot of promise and offers benefits compared to in-person psychotherapy. Below are some of them:

It can be convenient. 

Online therapy can take less time away from the office or your workday or worry about traffic. No need to travel miles to meet up with your psychologist. Dial a number or log in to a site, and the session can happen wherever you are comfortable.

Compared to traditional in-person therapy, it can sometimes appear less expensive. 

Some apps will advertise pricing that provides unlimited use for a weekly or monthly fee. Or the online session may seem significantly lower than in-office visits. If you’re not interested in using health insurance for psychotherapy, this can be a benefit. More about insurance and online therapy is discussed in the next section.

Online communication is very comfortable for many people, especially younger adults or those who use technology often. 

More people are using email, webinars, and text messaging to communicate, and it can seem more comfortable or easier than talking to someone in person, especially when revealing personal or private information.

It can provide access to those who can’t get to an office. 

In some rural communities, the nearest psychologist's office may be an hour or two drive away. Some people with chronic illnesses or disabilities may not be able to drive or easily able to leave their home. In these situations, Web- or telephone-based therapy may be their only option for help. 

Final Word

You have many choices in the online therapy world, which forces you to think deeply about what’s best for you. Ultimately, it is your desires and needs that will affect your choice.

Image credit: CHS


Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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