The Benefits Of Online Mental Health Counseling
Despite the welcome advances awareness of counseling and mental health treatment over the past decade or two, many people still do not have an opportunity for talk therapy or personal counseling. This is especially damaging in the case of problems where "a stitch in time" can avert much more serious issues, such as in the case of addiction or family and relationship troubles. Fortunately, the increasing popularity of online mental health counseling is improving the situation, bringing essential mental healthcare within the reach of more and more people. In this piece, we'll explore the pros and cons of online therapy.
Benefits Of Counseling Sessions Online
According to the American Psychological Association (2019), therapy delivered via telecommunication devices is often referred to as telepsychology. It is often also referred to as web therapy, phone therapy, text therapy or online therapy. The availability of mental health care providers via telecommunication and the web has provided amazing opportunities and a safe space to prevent problems and help people who may not otherwise receive help or who may fall through the cracks with regard to mental health service provision.
Although the world of therapy and counseling can be difficult to navigate, and finding the right licensed therapist and the most effective treatment may take some effort…the payoff is excellent. Online therapy provides opportunities for choice and connection in therapy that has not been present before now. The communication takes place with your online therapist through a counseling room that is very confidential and private. The discussion you have with your therapist is "asynchronous" which means not in real time which allows you to communicate at your own convenience. However, therapists do provide synchronal counseling sessions in which an issue or problem can be addressed through a discussion over an hour or a typical time period.
Integrating Counseling In Your Daily Life
The perceived availability of the therapist may also offer a deeper understanding of the counseling process and enhance the client’s ability to incorporate the therapist’s presence into daily life. Rather than waiting for the weekly in-person session to discuss an issue or navigate negative emotions, the client can instead write the therapist an email while the issue is still active, thereby evoking the therapist's psychological presence at the moment. This means that the client and the counselor are connected more frequently throughout the week and the relationship continues to evolve past the 1 time a week session that is typical of traditional counseling relationships during individual therapy.
A Wider Reach With Counseling
Physically going to a counselor or therapist for mental health treatment may not always be possible. Online counseling provides a viable option for people who live in remote areas, travel often for their jobs and those who live in foreign countries. Sometimes, online counseling is much cheaper than conventional therapy sessions and those who choose online counseling may do so simply due to financial feasibility.
People see mental health counselors for a number of different reasons. Some need help with relationships, while others simply want to feel better and less sad. Some need to work on anger issues, while others seek help with managing their time. And yet others might be with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, or other mental health conditions. Whatever the reason to seek therapy, there are so many different types of people who would benefit from online counseling/therapy. Individuals who are physically disabled may experience a great benefit from online counseling and therapy.
The Benefits Of Online Counseling
One of the benefits of counseling online is that there is incredible level of anonymity associated with it. Those who seek online counseling may do so due to the anonymity associated with it. Often times people who experience the shame and anxiety associated with sexual assault or domestic violence, find solace in an online therapist who can help the client get to the heart of the issue and move toward healing. People feel safe with their online therapist. Safety and confidentiality are important parts of building a strong therapeutic relationship.
Even if a person opts for traditional, face to face counseling, he will likely search for a suitable therapist online. He might be looking for a mental health professional with a particular specialization, such as treating depression or anxiety, but while a local therapist may indicate what conditions he is capable of treating, this gives little indication of whether or not a particular patient will "click" with this counselor. Typically, a website advertising a psychologist's practice will not display the rates charged with any kind of prominence, which by itself may be enough to discourage potential patients who happen to be in poor shape financially.
Finding A Counselor Online
Online mental health counseling offers a detour around many of these difficulties. A large pool of therapists is available to match a patient, comprising any specialization you can think of, and switching from one to another is basically effortless. Whether you seek a therapist trained in cognitive behavioral therapy or one trained in mindfulness, online therapy programs can match you with one to meet your specific needs. Online counseling is affordable but may not always be covered by health insurance. Fees are extremely affordable compared to therapy treatment in a traditional setting. Another benefit of online counseling is that counseling is available 24 hours a day. This can be extremely beneficial to individuals living in different time zones yet would love counseling to work out common human problems.
Extensive peer reviewed evidence has shown the positive effects of online therapy to be very similar to traditional methods, for any condition where inpatient care is not required. These services place patients in contact with vetted, qualified and licensed medical professionals with a minimum of overhead costs, allowing large numbers of previously untreated individuals to obtain counseling for nearly any mental health condition, from anywhere in the world.
Some Ethical Considerations With Online Counseling
A primary ethical consideration that all counselors and therapists providing mental health treatment must adhere to is the ethic indicated as "Do No Harm". Sometimes text-based interactive communication leads to less nonverbal cues and can lead to misinterpretation. It is important to understand that misinterpretation may lead to harm so the words used in text-based communication in online therapy must be concise, empathetic and clear. Always ask for clarification if a misinterpretation is possible.
Another ethical issue to consider is confidentiality. Counselor/client relationships are built on confidentiality because this leads to trust. Text-based communication and video communication must be confidential in order to be effective.
Informed consent is another ethical issue. Informed consent provides the client with information about the expertise of the counselor and the limits of confidentiality in the counseling relationship. Informed consent is an essential ethical consideration.
Ethical guidelines are a cornerstone to effective therapy whether it is provided online or face to face.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is online therapy available everywhere?
Whether you live in New York, South Carolina, or even in the most remote areas, you can get online therapy wherever you have an internet connection. You can find online services for individual therapy, couples therapy, group therapy, and family therapy wherever you are.
How can online therapy improve my mental health?
Through online therapy, you can deal with most of the same issues as you would in face-to-face therapy. From relationship issues to severe mental illness, online therapy can benefit you in several ways.
Benefits of counseling and therapy:
- Identify mental problems
- Evaluate your thought processes
- Get a better sense of purpose
- Deal with emotions
- Resolve disagreements in a relationship
- Improve interpersonal skills
- Gain a better understanding of your thought patterns
- Get emotional support
- Enjoy improved communication in your relationships
- Create mentally healthy strategies for living
- Learn new skills for setting healthy boundaries
- Learn relaxation techniques
- Improve your self-esteem
- Navigate family relationships
- Get to the root of a mental problem
- Face fears
- Manage depression
- Reduce anxiety
- Learn to manage your emotions
- Stabilize your moods
- Increase your self-esteem
- Find answers to life's most difficult dilemmas
- Manage chronic pain
- Learn stress management techniques
What's the difference between online and face-to-face therapy?
There is actually very little difference between what happens at in-person counseling sessions and in online therapy. Online therapists use the same psychological techniques to help you explore, learn new skills, evaluate, and find treatment to overcome mental problems ranging from depression and anxiety to bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions.
The only real difference between talking to a counselor in person and getting counseling online is the way you connect. When you're getting online therapy or health care online, you are using an electronic device, such as a phone, tablet, or laptop, to connect with mental health professionals. In online therapy, you talk to them by video conferencing, text, chat, or email. When you're going to a local therapist, you're making regular trips to their office to see them in the real world.
What are the advantages of online therapy?
There are many advantages of online counseling. Here is a brief list to consider if you're thinking about starting online therapy.
- You can get online therapy from wherever you are.
- You don't have to miss online therapy sessions or treatment when you're away from home.
- You don't have to drive to your therapist's office when the weather is bad.
- Remote therapy eliminates the need to travel through heavy traffic.
- You can avoid crowds.
- People with physical disabilities, family responsibilities, or other liminations can stay in their home environment with all their usual accommodations.
- You can get services online in many places where there are none or not enough traditional therapy options are available.
- You can get online therapy at a time that is convenient for your life-style.
Other benefits of online therapy include:
- A lot of people feel most comfortable talking in the familiar surroundings of their home.
- You can get mental health treatment without having to have a diagnosis if that's what you prefer.
- Online therapy is the most private type of therapy available – no one needs to know you're in counseling.
- You can connect with online therapists through text, chat, or email between sessions, whenever you need to tell them something.
- You can get paired with a counselor in minutes and have your first online therapy appointment in a very short time after that.
- It's incredibly easy to switch counselors if you discover they aren't a good fit.
What are the cons of online therapy services?
There are only a few cons of online counseling. The most important of the cons of online therapy is that it can't take the place of local services in a life-or-death crisis. Here are a few other cons of online treatment.
- Some insurance companies won't pay for online therapy.
- For some people, it's easier to trust someone who is in the room with you.
- You have to know how to use electronic devices for video conferencing, texting, chatting, and/or email.
- You have to have an internet connection for online therapy.
- Privacy can be a concern if your online therapy platform doesn't have good security.
What are the disadvantages of traditional therapy?
Even though there are a few cons of online mental health treatment, there are many more disadvantages of the traditional type of therapy. Here are some of the reasons people don't prefer in-person therapy as much these days and choose online therapy instead.
- You have to brave bad weather, heavy traffic, and exposure to illnesses to go to a local counselor.
- It's less private because you have to go out in public to get to your therapist's office.
- The counselor is usually only available for one session per week or less. The rest of the time, you're on your own.
- You have to have a diagnosis so insurance will pay, even if you would prefer to avoid the stigma of a formal diagnosis.
- In-person counselors aren't available everywhere the way online therapy is.
- It may take you months to get your first appointment with a counselor you haven't seen before.
- When you go on vacation, to visit family out of town, or on a business trip, your therapist isn't available to you.
- Those with physical limitations may have trouble getting to therapy sessions.
What types of therapy services can I get online?
You can get nearly any type of therapy service that's available when you choose online sessions. Here is a partial list of online therapy services you can receive through an online platform.
- Talk therapy
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Acceptance and commitment therapy
- Interpersonal therapy
- Couples therapy
- Group therapy
- Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy
- Instruction in relaxation techniques and stress management skills
- Family therapy
- Grief counseling
Is online mental health treatment always appropriate?
No. If your mental condition is a danger to you or someone else, it's no time to get therapy online. Instead, you need to seek treatment in your local area immediately. In these cases, online therapy is not recommended. Examples of urgent mental conditions include suicidal plans and actions, a psychotic break, or homicidal thoughts and plans. After the crisis is past, online therapy may be appropriate, convenient, and preferable. But until you and those around you are safe, you need emergency, in-person care.
What types of issues can you work on in online therapy?
Therapists who work online treat nearly every mental condition and emotional problem. Here are just a few of the mental illness and conditions they can help you deal with during online therapy.
- Eating disorders
- Substance abuse
- ADHD or ADD
- Bipolar disorder
- Family problems
- Disruptive behavior disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Personality disorders
Why do some people prefer to talk to a counselor online?
Because there are so few downsides online treatment, many people are happy to choose online therapy. Here are some of the reasons people opt to talk to a counselor online.
- You might feel less rushed in online therapy sessions.
- You might feel more comfortable having online therapy in your familiar surroundings.
- It feels less threatening to say difficult things when you're in online therapy and not physically in the same place as your counselor.
- You can concentrate on your emotions, mental illness, or mental issues more easily in online therapy because you don't have to make a trip to do so.
- It's easier to deal with difficult or controversial subjects in online therapy because you know that you can always choose to leave the session at the touch of a button.
Who are online therapists?
Therapists who see patients online are qualified professionals, just like traditional therapists. They have studied psychology and counseling and have years of experience throughout their lives in providing offline and/or online therapy and treatment to people with mental and emotional issues. They may be a professional counselor, a licensed social worker, or a psychologist. And they are licensed to practice therapy. Some of them also have an in-person practice in addition to their online therapy services. Others prefer to see all their clients online. In short, they have the same types of qualifications that traditional counselors have.
How do I connect with my online counselor?
There are several ways to connect with your counselor for online therapy. For live sessions, you connect for online therapy via video conferencing. You will receive information about any apps you have to download and how to enter your session. Besides video conferencing, you can connect using on-platform secure messaging, texting, or voice calls for the online therapy experience that works for you.
Why is mental health consultation important?
One of the many benefits of mental health counseling process is that your counselor or therapist will perform an initial mental health consultation or assessment to get a clearer picture of your mental and emotional states. A primary doctor, social worker, psychiatrist, or psychologist may also perform a mental health consultation to help make a diagnosis and determine mental health treatment options. During a mental health consultation, your provider may ask questions about your:
- Interpersonal skills
- Coping skills
- Communication skills
- Decision making skills
- Stress management skills
- Relationship with family and friends
- Relationship problems
- Family system
- Physical health, including any unexplained chronic pain
- Negative emotions
- Mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, or other behavioral problems
Why is mental health important?
Just like having a physiological illness can hurt your quality of life, potentially keep you from doing your daily activities or spend time with loved ones, and even impact your ability to provide for yourself, mental health conditions impact every aspect of your life. Unfortunately, while more than one in every five adults in the US struggle with at least one mental health disorder, there still is a lot of stigma surrounding anything related to mental health.
Maintaining good mental health, both by practicing mindful selfcare activities (exercising regularly, keeping in touch with your loved ones, prioritizing good quality sleep, practicing gratitude, spending time doing things that make you feel good) and well as seeking personal counseling or psychological help, if needed, is essential for leading a happy, healthy life.
What is clinical mental health counseling and why is it important?
Clinical mental health counseling
Types of counseling and therapeutic approaches include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Family therapy
- Group therapy
- Positive psychology
- Personal counseling
- Humanistic therapy or humanistic counseling
- Psychodynamic counseling