How To Decide If Online Therapy Is Right For You
Thinking about working with a therapist can be a difficult concept to consider. When you factor in personal, financial, and cultural factors, the barriers can feel insurmountable. It is a deeply personal decision and often comes with many questions. Is online therapy worth it? Does it work? Will it be able to help me? With the options that exist now, however, online therapy leads the pack with its apparent ease of access.
What Online Therapy Looks Like
Online therapy is typically accessed via teletherapy tools on a website, or through smartphone apps.
Teletherapy provides you with a chance to work with a therapist by using video call capabilities. In some cases, a therapist may utilize teletherapy, in addition to in-person therapy for an individual’s treatment, depending on location needs and other necessary accommodations.
Smartphone apps are also quite common when it comes to online therapy. There are numerous apps that allow you to communicate directly with a therapist or counselor online. Each service has different rules and procedures. For instance, one app may only allow you to use text, emails, or chat to communicate. Others may also have a video call option for an increased price.
Some online therapy options follow a basic talk therapy model, while others include medication management and psychiatric interventions.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is one particularly popular modality in talk therapy. This is a goal-focused type of talk therapy that works to help patients change the way they think or act in specific situations. Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, and panic disorder are among the conditions that often use this kind of treatment.
Is Online Therapy Right For You?
While it is your decision whether you choose to utilize online therapy or not, there is evidence that it is as effective as in-person treatment. It reduces barriers to access for those who may not be physically (or otherwise) capable of getting the help they need from mental health professionals. Not only does it allow for some level of location independence, but can sometimes be more financially feasible for individuals that do not have access to insurance.
One major concern with online therapy is privacy and confidentiality. While in an in-person scenario, a mental health professional keeps files in a secure, physical location, this can translate to advancements in technology that have allowed for digital files to be kept secure and compliant with global standards for data protection. While this could make some feel uncomfortable and uncertain about how safe their most vulnerable information is, you’re encouraged to be open with your therapist about your concerns, and if you have legitimate reasons to believe that there is mishandling, feel free to approach licensing authorities to make a formal complaint.
Another concern relates to how you interact with your therapist. If you choose to text or email them, there can be some worry that not being able to see your face and your expressions will hinder effective communication. Not only is there a potential for the therapist to not be able to provide the right kind of care at all times, but there is a possibility for the efficacy of treatment to be reduced due to patients not disclosing the full truth of their experiences.
If you don’t have access to high-speed internet services or you have spotty reception on your phone, this may also make you second guess whether you should take advantage of therapy online.
Benefits Of Online Therapy
There are a number of benefits to online therapy to consider when making your decision.
- You may feel more comfortable – If you would rather be in a cozy space in your home than in a cold doctor’s office, this may be the right option for you. You can take advantage of the fact that you can make an appointment without worrying about the commute. Of course, if you are on a video call with someone, you may need to consider your clothing choices, but pajamas can still be an option.
- Cost-effective – Online therapy can be the most affordable option for someone on a tight budget. Many companies offer a weekly or monthly subscription, with prices dictating the level of interactions possible with your assigned professional. This could save money since you aren’t paying per visit. If you don’t have insurance, this may be advantageous.
- Extended availability – You are also able to send a quick message or email to your therapist at any time, where they can respond to you as soon as they are able to during their operating hours. While a non-emergency email at 3 AM is fine, if you are experiencing immediate risks to yourself or others, always contact your local emergency services before anyone else.
Things To Consider
Online therapy is something that you may benefit from, but there are things to take into account before you decide.
You should think about why you want to take advantage of therapy in the first place. Perhaps you just need someone to talk to or you want to discuss stress management strategies. You may also need guidance on potential diagnoses and treatment options. No matter the reason, you likely know why you are pondering therapy.
Consider the expectations you have for therapy as well. Do you have a goal in mind that you want to achieve? Keep this in the forefront of your mind as you go through the process. A goal can encourage you to stay motivated.
If you have insurance, you may want to choose in-person therapy. Insurance plans don’t cover most apps and online therapy services, although there are exceptions. Be sure that you know the policies for the app or service you want to work with, so you can be certain of what the fees are and how you can pay for them. Some supplemental accounts like HSA/FSA, if an option for you, can possibly pick up the slack where insurance lacks.
Ease of use
When you have a reliable internet connection, WiFi, or a recent smartphone, it should be easy to use online therapy methods. However, if these things aren’t accessible to you, it could mean online methods won’t be effective for you.
Finding Quality Online Therapy
All online therapy services are not equal, so there are things that you should know while you are going about finding one for yourself.
One aspect of finding the therapy you want to take part in is based on what type of professionals are available. In some cases, there may be psychiatrists and psychologists, but with other options, there could also be other licensed professionals, such as social workers, or counselors. While all of the jobs require extensive training, it is up to you to decide who you are comfortable working with. Some online therapy services may also be more transparent about the qualifications and background of the professionals available on their platform, so always err on the side of caution by doing your own due diligence.
Just like with everything else online, you should read the reviews of the online therapy service you want to work with. The reviews should provide helpful information for you and may even answer any lingering questions you have. You can do a quick internet search to learn about the most popular online therapy services and gauge how people feel about them.
Online therapy can be a worthwhile choice for you if you are clear on what your purpose is and how effective you find virtual methods of communication. =. Additionally, it can be helpful for those that live in rural areas or places where there aren’t affordable options when it comes to in-person therapy. Keep in mind that you should take your time deciding on the therapy you want for yourself. It’s a big decision.
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