Online therapy: Advantages and Drawbacks
Online therapy, or mental health treatment delivered via the internet by a mental health counselor, has long been a practical and efficient choice. Today’s COVID-restricted societies, however, have made it more of a requirement than an option, which has necessitated some adjustment on the part of both clients and counselors.
As a psychologist who has worked more than 25 years as a “traditional” face to face counselor, At first, I was skeptical. Would the client and I actually be able to connect properly over the internet? How about my capacity to read nonverbal cues in a Zoom meeting? Would I be able to give a client in distress enough emotional support from behind the screen? While the obvious advantages murmured unconvincingly in the background, I was leaning toward the disadvantages.
My first online session didn’t do much to convince me otherwise: problems connecting to the internet, failure to get the sound up and my uneasiness with the new “office” made it a fail. But after a few more sessions, things began to move forward. Soon it became a comfortable routine, and the client was just as “real” in this setting. I’ve even had clients who have tried both settings—face to face and online—before deciding to stick with the latter. Why were the benefits beginning to outweigh the disadvantages?
When seeking mental health treatment, the majority of clients—if not all—place a high value on privacy. As there is no need to travel to a clinic where one might possibly run into other patients or therapists, online therapy offers more privacy. This is especially relaxing for a client who might feel emotional upon leaving the office and require some alone time.
Time and logistics: There is no travel time (or cost) lost, and a session can even be crammed in during lunch at the office or after work. Sometimes you can work from your car too!
Effectiveness: Studies have shown that online therapy is equally effective in treating mental health conditions like depression, anxiety disorders, and mild to moderate addiction.
Accessibility: Anyone with a steady internet connection can join an online meeting. People who live in remote areas, have disabilities, or are responsible for caring for children can now easily access treatment.
Convenience: Online therapy performed comfortably from home gives you the option to schedule sessions around your schedule rather than sticking to set office hours.
Location: There is no location! No matter where they live, you can choose the therapist you prefer. Since working in several different countries over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of being able to provide continuous therapy to my clients worldwide, even though we are
countries and time zones apart.
Confidentiality. Maintaining your personal information’s privacy is always a top priority in psychotherapy, but online counseling adds a level of complexity, especially when the therapist sends information and exercises to the client rather than giving them to them in private. It’s a problem that the client and the therapist should talk about.
Insurance: Some insurance companies, but not all, will agree to pay for online therapy. Insurance companies have, however, also had to modify their demands during these Corona times. Your mind can be at ease by calling your insurance provider, though.
Not in-treatment: People who are in severe distress, suicidal, or who have a serious mental illness require immediate in-treatment or in-person care and e-therapy cannot meet their needs in these circumstances. Your counselor can assist you with finding the required facilities if you are already receiving treatment online.
COVID. Last but not least, online therapy provides a clear and completely safe alternative to acquiring Covid in the workplace and avoiding the hassle of quarantine. Clients and therapists who had been in close contact, including myself, had to be quarantined for a week after a recent case where a counselor in the office had covid.
I’m hoping that by giving a broad overview of the advantages and disadvantages of online therapy, this article has been able to help. Personally, I’ve changed my mind and am a strong proponent of online therapy for patients with mild to moderate psychological issues, and I’d strongly urge anyone who is still skeptical to give it a shot!