What Are The Pros And Cons Of Online Therapy?
By: Abigail Boyd
Updated June 17, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Karen Devlin, LPC
Most of us at one time or another find ourselves in a situation where we're considering therapy. However, certain barriers can make seeking a therapist difficult. Unfortunately, there is still a significant need for accessible, affordable therapy that is not getting met. Online psychotherapy addresses this gap for many people, allowing them to get the help that they require.
Over 59 million people in the United States suffer from a mental or behavioral health condition, most commonly depression or anxiety. These conditions usually respond extremely well to therapy, but less than 1/3 of people diagnosed with them will ever seek help. Reasons for this are numerous-many people believe that therapy is too difficult, expensive, or inconvenient. This causes unneeded suffering that is costly on a personal level and contributes to an overall loss of productivity for society.
By participating in therapy virtually, therapists have made professional counseling directly accessible to many people who otherwise would not receive treatment. In addition, as more research demonstrates its effectiveness, online therapy is becoming increasingly common.
What Is Online Therapy?
First, let's establish what online therapy consists of. Online therapy, also known as e-therapy, distance therapy, or therapy on demand, involves communicating with a therapist online through various means, including video chatting, text messaging, and email. The patient can communicate with their therapist using the method that works best for them.
Treatment usually involves Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques, which are the most widely researched form of talk therapy. Online CBT is effective when delivered in real-time. There are usually no set appointments, and instead, you interact with your therapist when it works for both of your schedules.
Is Online Therapy Effective?
Once considered somewhat controversial, studies have shown online therapy to be consistently beneficial to patients looking for an alternative to in-person office visits. An individual may choose to only participate in online therapy or use it as an adjunct to in-person visits. Counselors who practice online must adhere to the same requirements as any other therapist, including the required education, licensing, and certification.
It's important to note that you should do your research before settling on an online therapy provider, just like you would before starting counseling at a physical office. Then, choose a company like Regain.us that offers evidence-based therapy from only licensed, experienced counselors.
Online therapy is a flexible, modern option for counseling widely accessible to those in need, backed by evidence of its effectiveness. However, if you're thinking of looking into virtual therapy for yourself or a loved one, there are some pros and cons that you should take into consideration before you schedule your first appointment. By learning about these benefits and drawbacks and weighing them against each other, you can determine whether or not e-therapy may be a good fit for you.
The Benefits Of Online Therapy
Online therapists offer many unique advantages for individuals in need of assistance. These benefits can remove the obstacles that prevent people from seeking treatment. As online therapy becomes more widely accepted, patients are increasingly turning to this option.
Convenient Access From Anywhere
One of the most common reasons people don't see a therapist is a lack of options nearby. This is especially true if you live in a remote, rural area where therapy centers may be limited. Your insurance coverage may only cover providers that happen to be a considerable distance away.
Additionally, since most therapy offices operate during the same 9-5 hours as most professionals, you may not be able to fit therapy into your schedule.
Online therapy has the edge in convenience over traditional therapy. You can save time and gas money without traveling back and forth to a therapist's office. For people who don't drive or otherwise have transportation limitations, online therapy is ideal. Those who are differently-abled or otherwise have physical restrictions may also find online therapy an ideal choice.
E-Therapy Is More Affordable
The cost of therapy can be prohibitive for many people, especially if you don't have insurance. This is compounded by the fact that many mental health conditions, such as depression make it difficult to work. This can lead people to think therapy is out of their reach.
Online therapy can be a solution. Since there is no physical office to maintain or staff to hire, online therapy is usually more affordable than in-person therapy. Traditional therapy can cost upwards of $75-150 or more per weekly session. Since therapy usually needs to continue for at least several months to be most effective, these costs add up quickly.
Online therapy, including that provided through Regain, is usually much more affordable, ranging from $40-70 per week, while still providing high-quality care from experienced, licensed professionals.
Therapy In A Comfortable, Familiar Setting
Some people find it difficult to open up in the setting of a therapist's office. Online therapy allows you to receive counseling from your own home or another comfortable location. This can make it easier for you to open up and speak about difficult issues.
Open Communication With Your Therapist
With many therapy offices, your connection to your counselor is only maintained during the time you're sitting on their couch. With e-therapy, there are usually no set sessions but instead flexible messaging between you and the therapist. As a result, you can reach out to your counselor any time that you need to without having to wait weeks for an appointment.
If you're in an abusive relationship, online therapy allows you access to a counselor even if you cannot get too physical appointments.
Text Or Email Therapy Allows You To Compose Your Thoughts
Sometimes it can be difficult to put your thoughts into words, especially if you're not used to speaking with someone about your problems or become overwhelmed with difficult emotions. Text-based therapy, such as involving messaging or email, gives you the room to say what you want to say at your own pace. This can be particularly helpful for those with social anxiety.
Improved Convenience For The Therapist
Online therapy not only has benefits for you as a patient but also for the therapist, as well. When offering online counseling, a therapist has more flexibility and convenience in responding to their patients, easy access, an open line of communication, and can operate from anywhere they choose.
Potential Drawbacks Of Online Therapy
As with anything, there are some negative factors to consider when choosing whether or not to pursue online therapy. While not all of these cons may apply in your case, it still helps to have this information.
Insurance Coverage May Be Limited
As of this writing, 19+ states require insurance companies to cover online therapy. However, depending on your location and insurance company, they may not offer coverage of certain types of e-therapy. Contact your insurance company for more information about the scope of their coverage, as there are usually specific requirements.
Your State May Have Restrictions
Certain states do not allow out-of-state therapists to treat patients. In these cases, your therapist would have to be licensed to operate in your state. This may or may not be a problem depending on the company you choose.
The Scope Of Therapy May Be Insufficient
Online counseling can be beneficial for people with many mental health and mood disorders. However, for those individuals with more complicated and significant diagnoses, online therapy may not be sufficient enough to provide adequate help.
If You Have Poor Internet, You May Face Technical Issues
Lastly, a strong internet connection is crucial to participate in e-therapy, especially video chatting. Depending on your location, your internet connection may be insufficient. There can also be occasional disruptions due to bad weather or poor connection speeds.
Privacy can also sometimes be a concern; for example, if you have roommates or people in your house, you don't want to overhear your therapy sessions. Therefore, it's recommended to use a private, personal computer and protect your confidential data with a password.
Getting Started With Online Therapy
Online therapy is an affordable, accessible way to get the counseling you need to manage your mental and behavioral health better. However, before you get started, you should do your research to determine the scope of your insurance coverage and what technological requirements may be involved.
ReGain.us has an established history of helping both individuals and couples with professional therapy. If you're in a relationship but unsure if your partner would join in the therapeutic process, you can opt to start counseling individually and have your partner join in your sessions later. Our therapists are certified and licensed, with many years of experience in treating a wide variety of mental and behavioral health conditions. We'll connect you with a counselor you can truly feel comfortable opening up to.
The best online therapy has an established reputation for delivering consistent care. Regain.us offers affordable counseling from experienced, licensed professionals committed to helping people better manage their mental and behavioral health struggles.
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