Inside Online Counseling's Many Benefits: Pros and Cons of Online Therapy

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated March 13, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

There comes a time in nearly everyone’s life when they just need someone to talk to, and with the convenience of home counselor online services, getting the support and guidance you need has never been easier. Sometimes, this can be a trusted friend, family, or even co-worker, but in some situations, only a qualified professional will do. Online therapy is an effective way to talk through your problems with a counselor and get valuable guidance and feedback from someone ready to listen without judgment. If you're considering this, it would be good to know the benefits of online therapy to determine if it could be a productive step for you.

Online Counseling Has A Proven Track Record of Helping People

The Benefits Of Online Therapy

Studies show that therapy, in general, is effective and has many benefits. Some of the benefits of therapy include helping you identify the things that are causing distress, understand yourself better, and achieve your goals.

While in-person therapy is an option for many people, online counseling has some benefits that you might consider before deciding which type of therapy is right for you. 

  • No traveling: People with physical limitations or disabilities may also have difficulty getting to a therapist's office. Whether the closest therapist is hours away or all of the counselors in your area have long waiting lists, it can be challenging to get an appointment. One of the biggest online therapy benefits is that you can get an appointment with a qualified professional from the comfort of your own home. With a large pool of counselors available online, you don’t have to worry as much about waiting lists or limited appointment times.

  • Personal space at home: Online counselors follow the same rules as office-based therapists, but the feeling of quasi-anonymity from being behind a screen can allow people to open up more quickly about sensitive topics.

  • More available: People with depressive or mood disorders might have difficulty motivating themselves to find a therapist, arrange an appointment, and then travel to the office for the first meeting and every subsequent meeting after that. Online therapy can make connecting with a counselor more available for people who need help but may not seek it out if there are too many obstacles in the way.

When Online Counseling Is Appropriate

  • Online counseling can treat common mental health issues: Online therapy is an effective and appropriate treatment for many common mental health issues like depression and anxiety. However, it may not be the most effective choice for more complicated psychiatric illnesses with complex symptoms or for people having suicidal thoughts. These situations typically require real-world interactions with a therapist and even medication or hospitalization. If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. You can reach them anytime, day or night.
  • To give yourself more options: In addition to having more options for counselors and appointment times, online counseling services allow you to choose how you interact with your therapist, either through live counseling or asynchronous counseling. Live counseling is when you meet with a therapist via video-based teleconferencing or over the telephone. You and your therapist are both present, responding to each other in the moment, getting you close and personalized treatment from the comfort of your home. Asynchronous online counseling is when you exchange messages with your therapist. You send a message, and your therapist responds when they log back into the platform. Depending on their availability, your therapist might respond to messages daily or multiple times a day.

Online Counseling Has A Proven Track Record of Helping People

Downsides To Online Therapy

While online therapy is an effective and viable option for many people, there are certain drawbacks to consider, and some people may still be skeptical about online therapy

  • Your insurance might not cover it. Paying for online therapy out-of-pocket can add up quickly, so make sure your medical insurance covers it, and your online therapist accepts your plan. 

  • Some states don’t allow for out-of-state providers. In many states, your online therapist must be licensed in your home state for them to deliver treatment. 

  • Unreliable technology could be an issue. Because online therapy relies on the internet and the reliability of multiple devices, many things might not always work as they should. If your internet goes down or your laptop runs out of battery, your session will be interrupted. 

  • Online therapists cannot always respond quickly in crisis situations. If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for 24/7 support and assistance from a trained counselor.

  • In-person therapy is better for treating severe and complex psychiatric illnesses that may require medication or hospitalization.

Online Therapy With BetterHelp

If online therapy sounds like it could be a viable option for your needs and situation, BetterHelp could provide an effective platform to get started. BetterHelp is an online counseling platform that lets you connect with a therapist according to your availability. Even those with busy schedules can find care through e-counseling. You can choose to talk over a phone call, video chat, or in-app messaging feature. You won’t have to worry about driving long distances and can find mental health care from the comforts of home. 

The Effectiveness Of Online Therapy

Are online therapy sites effective? Online counseling service studies show that online therapy is effective, too. In fact, one review of 17 studies found that online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) might be more effective at treating depression than in-person therapy. CBT is a therapeutic approach that attempts to change an individual’s negative thought patterns and replace them with more positive ways of thinking. It can treat anxiety disorders, depression, addictions, and more. 

BetterHelp Online Therapist Reviews

“I’ve been meeting with Roberta for a few months now and have had a consistently great experience with her. She’s open and kind, always listening and responding with heart. Despite having initial difficulty finding a counselor on the site, Roberta has made me feel positive about the whole online therapy experience (both regain and BetterHelp) and I would readily recommend it (and Roberta specifically) to any of my friends.”

“I started my journey with Donna not knowing what it is that I needed help with or what to really expect. I was in pain, that is all I knew for certain, and I threw everything at her. That was new for me. I have had face to face counseling experiences before with two other very kind professionals and with none of them I talked as much during the first sessions as I did with Donna.  It felt super safe when talking with Donna. It is like her aura emits safety which penetrates the skepticism one might have with online counseling (it did for me).  Apart from feeling safe, her great listening and non-judgement skills kept me staying with Donna. I did think a lot about changing counselors once because I wasn’t sure whether Donna could understand or help me with problems I was facing in regard to high sensitivities (HSP). However, my gut kept me away from it because of the three traits mentioned before. Till now, I have always wanted to get better very quickly (max. 1 month to get better and even that is too long), but with Donna I managed to learn with my heart slowly to let myself take time with the process of getting better. One more thing which I found amazing because I was not expecting that all, is Donna’s ability to shed light on new perspectives on my deep, philosophical/complex writings. Sometimes just a short message from her on my writing makes me something new or helps me gets closer to a solution within me.”


As you look for a mental health care provider, it can be helpful to consider participating in online therapy. As you can see, there are many BetterHelp benefits to receiving care online versus in person. Whether you have limited in-person counselors or feel more comfortable reaching out from the comfort of your home, online mental health counseling or therapy can be an effective way to connect with a health care professional who can give you the help and support you need.

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