It turns out there are many benefits of online therapy, and it might be the best option for you, even now. Over the past couple years many of us have become more familiar with online mental and physical health care. As the Covid 19 pandemic swept the nation, more and more service providers began offering online options. This of course includes mental health care providers, and the demand for these services began to rise. Now that we’re all going back to “normal” life and in person sessions are accessible again you may be wondering which option is best for you.
Benefits of online therapy
Online therapy provides many benefits and, in some cases, may even be a better option than traditional therapy. The ability to engage in therapy from the comfort of your own home has made it more accessible than ever. In addition, many online therapy providers offer plans with more flexible access to your therapist than the typical once a week model. For people with mobility issues, social anxiety, time limitations, or who live in more rural areas online therapy can be a real game changer. In addition, those who need extra support in coping or managing life or who are in recovery from substance abuse often find the more flexible access to be beneficial.
Online Therapy vs. Traditional Therapy
To better determine whether online therapy is right for you here are the pros and cons of online therapy and how it stacks up to traditional models.
In traditional therapy you find a provider in your area who is licensed in your state and meets the educational criteria required. This is the same in online therapy, but you can see any therapist who is licensed in your state even if they don’t have an office nearby.
Those who participate in online therapy do so from the comfort of their own home. This means you’ll need to have a quiet, distraction free place for your sessions (along with the internet connectivity and device). Most therapists recommend not using your bedroom for your sessions. Traditional therapy is typically performed in an office or home environment that you have to travel to.
Online therapy can be more convenient because it often offers greater scheduling flexibility, and you don’t have to get ready or leave your house. However, it can be difficult for some to find a distraction free space at home to engage in therapy.
Traditional therapy is typically only offered during your scheduled session and in person. Many enjoy the convenient alternative options provided by online therapy such as video sessions, voice messaging, and even texting.
Techno-phobyness (yeah, I know, not a word) can be a huge inconvenience with online therapy. If you aren’t comfortable with technology this might not be the best option for you. It is relatively easy to access traditional therapy without any technology use.
Finding a therapist you connect with in traditional therapy can be challenging. Often, we get referrals from other health care providers, friends, and family and have to take the time to meet a few therapists before finding the right fit. Online therapy companies often provide matching services to help you find the therapist you will be most compatible with.
Some people find it challenging to create a connection with a person they have only met online. This can be a significant barrier but over time it can be overcome. Interestingly, online therapists often report that it can be easier for them and even more expedient to the therapeutic process to see where you live or even what you choose as your video background.
As demand increases and more research is coming out that shows the efficacy of online therapy costs are rising. In addition it is important to know that most online therapy is not covered by insurance.
If cost is a barrier, consider checking with your insurance company (if you have one), look for therapists that offer a sliding scale, and consider online therapy subscriptions and plan options that better fit your budget.
Both online and traditional therapy should offer the same level of privacy. To be sure, ask your online therapist whether they are HIPPA compliant. If so they will utilize encrypted channels for your sessions that have the same privacy standards as banks.
Online Therapy Statistics and Outcomes
The most important question about online therapy is “does it work?”. Research has specifically been done regarding its effectiveness in treating stress, depression, anxiety and phobias showing that it is just as effective as traditional therapy. This has also been shown to be true even in major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. In addition, research shows that online therapy has a 100% satisfaction rate in the areas of convenience and accessibility and that patient retention rates are equal. It is important to know that with both traditional and online therapy success and satisfaction rates increase with more sessions.
There are many online therapy options and companies you can consider. The 2 biggest and most well-known are Betterhelp & TalkSpace. Both offer similar service options. If you’re interested in online therapy head over to their websites and check them out!