Ready To Try Therapy? Pros And Cons Of Using A Therapy App
Updated March 19, 2020
Reviewer Nicole Gaines, LPC
Thanks to the Internet, our options for therapy have grown exponentially. No longer is your only option for getting help going and sitting face-to-face with a stranger and opening up to them about things you've never told anyone before. There are therapy apps that can help you with different parts of therapy practices. However, it's important to consider the pros and cons of using them.
What Type of App Is It?
There are two different types of apps that you might come across when looking for a therapy app.
Mental Health Apps Without Licensed Professionals
The first is therapeutic-type apps and those that can help you with a specific part of your health. These apps aren't really "therapy apps". They don't provide you with access to a therapist or a way to get specific help.
The advantage of these apps depends on the actual app that you're using. It could be that it reminds you to do something or teaches you a new habit. Here are a few examples:
iMoodJournal - This app does exactly what it sounds like. It helps you to track your mood throughout the day. You can even set reminders for yourself, so you don't forget to track. The information is then stored, and you can use history charts or export the information into a CSV or PDF file to an email to your therapist.
Breathe2Relax - Deep breathing can help you gain control of anxiety symptoms and overcome the fight or flight response to stress. The Breathe2Relax app helps you learn deep breathing techniques that you can use anywhere you are.
Medisafe - This app helps you to manage your medications in a safe way. The app will help you to keep your medication straight along with reminding you of when you need to take it. If you're on several different types of medication this can be very helpful to make sure that you're not mixing up what you're supposed to be taking at that time.
Therapy Apps with Licensed Professionals
The other types of apps are those that actually connect you with a licensed mental health professional. These apps allow you to have access to therapy from anywhere instead of having to make an appointment in-person with a therapist. A few examples include:
Regain- Couples Counseling -The Regain app provides you access to a licensed professional that can help you with all of your relationship trials. It doesn't matter if you're married or just dating, couples counseling can help everyone. You work one-on-one with a therapist in a secure room that you can access 24/7. You can also set appointments for phone sessions or video chat sessions with your therapist. And, you can add your significant other to the room for couples counseling either from the start or at any point along your therapy journey.
BetterHelp - Online Counseling - This app works similar to the Regain app, but you can use it for any mental health challenge that you're facing, not just relationships. You get the same access to a secure room 24/7 and the ability to set sessions with your therapist. This allows you to easily address things like anxiety and depression, among other mental health challenges.
Pros of using a therapy app
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reported that there is scientific evidence that has found apps can be helpful for certain mental health challenges. If using an app sounds appealing to you, it's because there's a lot of pros that come along with it. Some of them include:
They are convenient
There's no doubt about it. Using a therapy app sounds a lot more convenient than going to a therapy session. If you're like most people, your phone is always on you. That means that your therapy app is always there and available for you to use.
You don't have to try to remember an issue that you want to talk to your therapist about. If something comes up you can get right on the app and write a message to your therapist.
Therapy apps can be really helpful for couples counseling in long-distance relationships or if one partner travels a lot, which would generally make it difficult to make therapy sessions in person.
They are an affordable alternative
Therapy sessions can be unaffordable for some people. The average cost of a session can be as much as $150 or more depending on where you live. If you don't have health insurance that helps cover some or all of the cost of this, the idea of forking out the money that you need to can be overwhelming.
Therapy apps make access to a licensed professional more affordable. Most therapy apps will have several different plans that you can choose from, and many people find that the cost is half of what in-person therapy would cost them.
They remove the physical barrier
Depending on where you live, it can be difficult to find a therapist that you want to work with. It could be that there isn't someone that specializes in an area you want help with or you may just have a limited number of therapists to choose from, especially if you live in a rural area.
Using a therapy app allows you to find the therapist that would be the best fit for you even if they aren't in your local area. This can be a huge advantage in getting the help that you need.
Helpful for those that can't easily get around
Therapy apps are a great way for people that are homebound or have difficulties getting around due to physical disabilities or lack of transportation to access a therapist. Previously, these types of limitations would require a person to have to rely on someone else to help them get back and forth the therapy sessions and therapy apps help remove that barrier.
You can have an ongoing dialogue
If you've ever been to in-person therapy before, you know that it can be frustrating when your session ends before you're ready for it too. It's easy at that point to forget what things you want to cover at the next session because new concerns arise between the two.
When you use a therapy app you can use your secure room to address these issues throughout the week. Just because you aren't having a "session" with your therapist doesn't mean you can't still get help for your concerns.
Cons of using a therapy app
While therapy apps have a lot of advantages, it's important to consider the other side as well. Here are some of the cons of using a therapy app.
Some forms of treatment need to be in person
Therapy apps are great for psychotherapy or talk therapy. You can even learn valuable strategies and techniques like deep breathing and meditation with an app. But there are some forms of treatment that require you to work in person with a therapist. An example of this is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). This type of therapy is useful in helping people overcome trauma from their past but really requires you to be sitting with a therapist.
For the most part, if you have a serious mental health diagnosis, in-person therapy will be a better fit.
Some people prefer in-person visits
There are some people that enjoy the idea of using a therapy app because they don't want to sit in front of a therapist. But some people naturally want to connect with a therapist and feel that they can do so more being face-to-face with them. While therapy apps can address some of this through the use of video chats that allow you to see your therapist, there are some people that are just more comfortable in person.
Your level of comfort is crucial in being able to get the help that you need. So, if your more comfortable having a person actually sitting with you, in-person therapy may be a better fit.
Your insurance might not cover it
If you're counting on your health insurance to cover some or all of the cost of therapy for you then you'll want to find out what their requirements are. Many health insurance companies won't cover the cost of a therapy app even though it's giving you direct access to a licensed mental health professional.
While the cost of therapy apps is more affordable than in-person sessions, you're going to need to consider if health insurance coverage is part of the equation.
Getting the help that you need
There are several great therapy apps available. They can help you in different areas of improving your mental health.
If you are looking for a convenient alternative to in-person therapy sessions, consider giving online therapy a try. You can meet with a therapist from the comfort of your own home and don't have to worry about sitting there uncomfortably in front of them. It can also be more affordable than in-person sessions and provide you more frequent access to your therapist.