Online Counseling Service Studies: What Conditions Can Be Helped
By Sarah Fader
Updated January 17, 2019
Reviewer Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
An online counseling service obviously offers benefits from a traditional therapy setting. Right away, the patient can see advantages in not having to drive, which would be ideal for someone who doesn't have a car or lives away from the city. The patient may also feel more comfortable in a text/chat environment and may not be as forthright confessing their private thoughts in person.
Another study by John Suler demonstrated that so-called cybertherapy promoted interaction between client and therapist using more than one pathway. While in-person therapy and online therapy have pros and cons, what's truly significant is that it's an alternative form of counseling and one that helps a lot of people, considering that for some, it's the only feasible option.
Another study by John Suler demonstrated that so-called cybertherapy promoted interaction between client and therapist using more than one pathway. While in-person therapy and online therapy obviously have pros and cons, what's truly significant is that it's an alternative form of counseling and one that helps a lot of people, considering that for some, it's the only feasible option.
According to another survey, upwards of 50 percent of all Americans believe therapy is too difficult to get, which is why they avoid in-office visits. One of the biggest advantages that an online counseling service offers is the ability to send messages to a therapist on your schedule, and find a match that has live appointment times convenient to you.
What Conditions Can an Online Counseling Service Help With?
Online therapy is currently being studied for severe mental illness, but at this time, major psychosis, suicidal ideation, and serious antisocial disorders are still best left to in-person sessions-perhaps even inpatient therapy. These classifications of disorders typically require a more intensive therapeutic service and the ability to do quicker crisis management when urgent situations occur.
What a virtual counseling service can help with are mental disorders like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, addictions, sleeping or eating problems, and PTSD.
Depression is classified as a depressed mood or loss of interest that lasts more than two weeks, and that was not caused by a significant loss or negative event in your life and affects about 14 million Americans or around 6% of the population. This depression has to be severe enough that it causes you to have impaired functioning in several areas of your life including socially, employment or school, sleep, concentration, and activity. Online counseling can be helpful with this illness by teaching you to adopt a more positive perspective on life using tools like gratitude and mindfulness, as well as helping you learn healthy coping skills to use when you have depressive episodes.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that 40 million America over the age of 18 are affected by anxiety. That's about 18% of the population in the USA! Anxiety can manifest as constant or excessive worry that is very difficult to control and often doesn't have a real trigger that set it off. It may include such physical symptoms as restlessness, fatigue, irritability, nausea, and panic attacks. We see more people with anxiety than any other disorder in the online counseling world as it is highly effective for treatment. Your counselor can help you learn about how to rewire your brain by changing your thought patterns and challenging the anxious thoughts that are controlling your life, as well as help you learn some more of those healthy coping skills I mentioned in the last paragraph!
Bipolar Disorder is less common but still affects a significant portion of the population, coming in at about 2%, and is classified as episodes of extreme mood disturbances that include periods of depression and those of mania. Depression we have already discussed, but mania includes symptoms such as impulsive behaviors, decreased need for sleep, increased sex drive, increased spending, extreme energy, and restlessness/irritability. Online counseling can be helpful here for many of the same reasons that have already been mentioned: changing thought patterns and learning healthy and effective coping skills to deal with symptoms. Your counselor can also help you come up with a plan that works for you to feel most equipped to handle your illness.
Addictions affect about one in 10 Americans over the age of 12 and is another of the top reasons that people seek therapy. There are many types of addictions including drugs, alcohol, sex, technology, and virtually any other vice that meets the criteria of addiction. Some of the criteria include needing an increased amount over time to feel satisfied; going to great lengths of time and resources to obtain the materials needed to engage in the addiction, and engaging a great deal of your time doing the addictive activity. All of these to the point that they are disrupting your daily life and functioning. This category of disorders can be helped with online therapy through things like connecting the problems you are experiencing with the addiction, learning how to step-down use and replace it with more positive coping skills, and learning about how to prevent relapse. Sometimes all that is needed is the support you get from your therapist!
PTSD, affecting about 3% of Americans in any given year, is another disorder that can be greatly helped by virtual therapy. You may be experiencing PTSD if you have been through a traumatic event or series of events and it has continued to affect your life severely. Symptoms include but are not limited to flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, hypersensitivity or hypervigilance, panic attacks, and a change in sleep patterns or appetite. Your online counselor can help you work through the event(s) that triggered the condition as well as aid you in learning coping skills that work for you to control the symptoms you are experiencing.
There are additionally many factors that individuals experience in any given period that leads them to therapy, and that can be very effectively dealt with in this setting. Some of these life issues include stress, employment issues, relationship issues, LGBT issues, parenting issues, life transitions, grief/loss, divorce, family conflict, and self-esteem. One of the most valuable things about this platform is that you can write in real-time as you are experiencing something and your therapist can read what you were going through at the moment. Your counselor can help you through any of these issues and can also be one person in your support team who is there to listen and encourage you!
BetterHelp.com is a counseling service company that offers sessions with highly educated and experienced counselors. They have earned master's degrees (or Doctorate Degrees) and have passed all licensing and certification tests. These therapists have the expertise needed to help you make serious changes in your life. Why not give it a try?