Read This If You Feel Skeptical About Trying Online Therapy

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated July 12, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide, substance use, or abuse which could be triggering to the reader.
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Are you considering mental health care but hesitant to seek it in person? Perhaps you are skeptical about online therapy and unsure if it's an effective therapy option. It's common to feel that way, but online therapy can be an available and effective alternative to traditional therapy. Online therapy platforms offer virtual sessions with licensed therapists, allowing you to receive mental health care from the comfort of your own home. These virtual therapy sessions offer the same support as in-person therapy, including the ability to see facial expressions and body language via video screen. Don't let skepticism keep you from getting the mental health care you need – online therapy can be an excellent solution.

Updated mental health solutions may help you change your life

Seeking treatment online may be becoming a popular way for millions of people to form a therapeutic relationship with a licensed mental health professional. The biggest difference between in-person therapy and online therapy may be the distance. Most other aspects of your therapy sessions will often remain the same.

Many of today's online therapists and professional social workers are licensed to practice cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as more specialized therapies. Millions of people may prefer attending therapy via digital chat sessions versus traditional therapy sessions as there can be many benefits, including lower costs and increased discretion.

Virtual therapy offers various forms of mental health care, from audio calls to online messaging, but video chat is particularly beneficial. Video sessions allow for face-to-face interaction with therapists, psychiatrists, clinical social workers, or medical practitioners, all from the comfort of your own home. Video sessions let you see facial expressions, body language, and your own face via the video screen, providing a more personal and engaging experience. This can enhance the effectiveness of therapy, as body language and facial expressions are crucial components of communication. With virtual sessions, you can receive mental health care through a medium that fits your needs and lifestyle, offering a discreet and flexible way to receive the support you need.

Online therapists are generally licensed to provide mental health services comparable to those provided during traditional therapy sessions. In some cases, health insurance providers may cover the cost of your sessions with an online therapist. In other cases, the therapy platform itself may offer financial aid instead of taking insurance.

You may be surprised to learn that online therapists typically use the same strategies and tools as in-office therapy sessions to treat mental health issues.

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Interested in trying online therapy for yourself?

Online therapists are usually licensed to provide various types of therapy, such as individual, couples, and family therapy.

Furthermore, most online therapy services can help many of the same mental health illnesses as a clinical practice or medical practitioner. Some of these conditions can include the following:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Sleep disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

You may attend therapy sessions once or a few times a week, depending on your treatment plan. Your treatment plan is generally a customized set of goals and activities for you to complete during the course of your treatment. Your health insurance provider may request a written copy of your treatment plan if health insurance is used to cover the cost of treatment. Aside from treating disorders, another reason people go to counseling or therapy is to understand themselves better. It can help distinguish unconscious feelings through many forms, like subjective or virtual morality, that can be related to one's mental illness.

Is online therapy better than in-office therapy?

Many studies show that people who receive treatment online for issues like anxiety, depression, and eating disorders tend to recover well. Researchers found that “users of BetterHelp experienced significantly reduced depression symptom severity after engaging with the platform.

Another study tested the effects of mindfulness-based therapy delivered online. Findings showed significant progress for depression, anxiety, general mental wellness, and mindfulness.

One reason people often seek treatment for mental health is sleep issues. If you're anxious, depressed, or stressed, it can be difficult to sleep. In a study conducted to analyze the efficacy of online therapy and insomnia, researchers found that online therapy improved people's sleep.

Online clients often report a more positive treatment experience when working with their therapist virtually than in-person therapy. This may be due in part to the fact that clients can view their own faces on the screen during online sessions, which can increase self-awareness and improve the therapeutic process.

However, it can be important to note that online therapists are generally not equipped to assist you in times of imminent crisis or emergency. Attending therapy online is not intended to act as a substitute if you feel that mental health issues may result in physical violence to yourself or others. 

Potential advantages of online therapy 

Online therapy can help people with a variety of mental health-related issues, and it comes with multiple potential advantages.

Availability for those in remote areas

Virtual therapy holds promise for improving the availability of mental health care. Individuals residing in remote areas may benefit from attending therapy sessions from their own homes, while still receiving support from therapists. Additionally, techniques such as eye movement desensitization can be utilized in online sessions, allowing for effective treatment of past traumas without needing to be in the therapist's office.

Getty/Xavier Lorenzo

Increased feelings of safety for those with anxiety

For individuals living with agoraphobia or social anxiety, online therapy may provide a safer and more comfortable environment. In-person therapy sessions may trigger anxiety-related issues and prevent individuals from seeking the help they need. The option of talking with a therapist online offers a valuable alternative for those who would otherwise avoid face-to-face interactions.

Inclusive for those with physical disabilities

Online therapy can be great for people who have physical disabilities that make it difficult or nearly impossible to meet with a traditional therapist in person. Online therapy eliminates the need to drive a car or walk to an in-person therapist's office. People can sit, stand, or lie down during the appointment, depending on what feels comfortable. When text messaging with an online therapist, a participant can use apps that enable voice-to-text, for example

Added schedule flexibility 

Online services frequently offer more flexible treatment plans and schedules than traditional therapy services. Though the average person typically prefers weekly sessions, biweekly and monthly therapy plans may also be options for some services. Before starting, you might look into the therapy plan of your preference to see if a monthly subscription is offered.

Possible free trial

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Interested in trying online therapy for yourself?

Some online treatment providers may provide a free trial to get you started. After one or two free sessions, you may decide whether to continue with weekly live sessions or sign up for a monthly package. 

Affordability

In-office therapy is frequently expensive. Even if you have health insurance, deductibles can be high, and some insurance companies may not offer behavioral health coverage. The average cost of a therapy session can range from $75 to $150, which can be expensive and add up over time. Although online therapy sessions can vary in cost, they are often more affordable than in-office therapy.

Takeaway

Online therapy can help people with various mental health disorders. However, it's generally a good thing to be cautious when it comes to your mental health. You might seek out articles about online therapy to find out how it has helped people like you. You may find that many people enjoy the flexibility, availability, and affordability of this type of therapy. If you believe online therapy may be beneficial for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out and get the help you deserve.

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