It’s been over two years since COVID-19 burst onto the scene and changed all of our lives. It changed the way that we do just about everything, from school, shopping, and even our jobs. The number of Americans who are choosing virtual options for their day to day activities is on the rise and looks to be here to stay.
Mental health services have shown a more than 60% increase in searches for “online therapy.” Whether it be due to COVID or just convenience, it’s clear the internet has opened up and embraced this new avenue for mental health. But is online psychiatry as effective as face-to-face?
What is Online Therapy?
Let’s start with a couple of definitions about what online therapy is and what to expect. Sometimes known as e-therapy, e-counseling, telecounseling, or telehealth; many terms are used interchangeably with online therapy. But they all mean the same thing, connecting with a mental health services provider for health services and support, using technology such as email, text messaging, online chat, or video conferencing. If you have access to a cell phone, tablet, desktop or laptop computer, (with an internet connection) then you can receive online therapy from a licensed therapist.
With traditional therapy, you receive your mental health support through face-to-face interactions with that same therapist, usually in an office setting for 45 minutes to an hour. Both of these options have certain advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Online and Traditional Therapy
It is interesting to note that research from the Mayo Clinic notes that psychotherapy of any kind, regardless of the format, is beneficial to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. So whichever option you choose, there will be benefits to your mental health.
The most common advantages to Traditional Therapy are:
- Neutral Location – This can help to decrease stress and anxiety by providing a safe space away from home.
- Body Language and Non-Verbal Insights – Traditional, in-person therapy allows the therapist to read certain non-verbal cues that are lost in a non-video format.
- In-Person Therapeutic Support – You may require more intensive, direct support. This is more easily provided with Traditional therapy.
- Reduced Distractions – Traditional therapy removes distractions by controlling the environment of the sessions.
Traditional therapy is a great option for some, but it is not without its faults. Some of these faults can be deal breakers for certain people.
- Accessibility & Inconvenience – Getting to therapy sessions and back home, is a significant challenge for some people. Taking time away from normal life and other priorities can prove to be very stressful and anxiety inducing for some.
- Time – Waiting periods for in-person appointments has grown in the past two years as availability for everyone has shrunk. Trying to line up schedules and appointments could cause issues with getting consistent mental health support.
Online therapy provides a unique solution to people that are struggling with their mental health, but for whom traditional therapy isn’t an option, or at least a less appealing one.
Some of the advantages of virtual therapy include:
- Convenience – With today’s technology and a quiet space, you can connect to your therapist from virtually anywhere. Texting, emailing, or video conferencing are all options and available to you. Online therapy also allows for therapeutic support in an almost on-demand basis.
- Easy to Access – Not sharing a physical space with others will reduce social anxiety issues. There are a multitude of options to connect, so struggling for rides to your therapy session is no longer necessary.
- A Way Around Stigma – No one has to be aware of your therapy sessions. Remaining anonymous is always an option with many online therapy networks.
Some of the disadvantages of online therapy include:
- Internet Connection Reliant – You are beholden to an internet connection to use online therapy. Spotty service will hamper your ability to connect with your therapist. It is always advised to discuss this possibility with your therapist beforehand to come up with a plan should the session be disconnected for any reason.
- Some Care Limits – More serious mental health issues will require in-person sessions.
- Communication Barrier – Some communications, such as text or email, can present an understanding barrier between you and the therapist. Nonverbal cues are lost and communication can feel limited and you can feel like you aren’t developing a therapeutic relationship with your therapist.
So Is Online Therapy Effective?
Current research has suggested that online therapy is just as effective as traditional in-person therapy. Studies have shown that, when combined with medication management, online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can effectively treat anxiety, depression, and other disorders.
While online therapy does present its challenges, some have argued that it is even more effective than traditional in-person therapy. A review of several studies was published and stated that patients who receive treatment through videoconferencing have reported high levels of satisfaction.
All therapy is effective, whether online or in-person. The level of effectiveness is up to you.
Is Online Therapy the Right Choice For You?
It’s up to you to do the research to decide if online therapy services are the right choice for you, or if in-person fits you better. We have some keys to getting the most out of your online therapy, and most of them will hold true for traditional therapy, as well.
- Make sure you are comfortable with the therapist – This is the most important thing. If you aren’t comfortable, you won’t get the benefits you deserve. Look for another therapist that you feel at ease with.
- Be honest – Success with any sort of therapy depends on the honesty of the patient. You have to be willing to share your feelings, thoughts, and experiences. If you’re unable to talk about certain issues because of a painful situation, let your therapist know.
- Therapy is a Partnership – All forms of therapy are far more effective when you are active and sharing. Make sure that you and your therapist agree on the best course of treatment and set goals together. Make sure you complete any assignments that your therapist may give you. This helps with treatment and shows you’re engaged.
- Stick to the Plan – Motivation comes and goes, but try not to be tempted to skip therapy sessions. This will disrupt any progress, especially with virtual counseling.
- Don’t Expect Immediate Results – Emotional work is hard. Don’t add to your pressure by searching for instant results. It may take several sessions for you to begin to see improvement.
The answer to whether online therapy is right for you comes down to personal preference and choice of therapist. If your therapist isn’t on the same page with you or makes you feel uncomfortable, no therapy is going to work for you. Do your homework and call several therapists to find the right one. Find someone who’s on your side.
How Can Carencia Help?
Carencia offers unique mental health service options to people in the states of Texas and South Dakota. Whether it’s in-person traditional therapy at our location in Arlington, TX or all over Texas and South Dakota via our safe and secure video software.
Carencia offers all inclusive mental health care. We handle psychotherapy and medication management. No more having to see a therapist and a separate psychiatrist for medication, we offer it all in one place. We have several therapists are you’re sure to find the one that works best with you.
Contact us today and let us help.