Does Online Therapy Help Improve Mental Health?
Online therapy is a more modern invention, starting with the popularization of the internet in the 1990s. Over the years, it has become a more widespread option for mental healthcare, with four out of ten Americans using it instead of face-to-face services since 2021. However, some people might have reservations about using an online therapy platform, as it can seem that online services may not be as effective as those used in person. Understanding the statistics surrounding online therapy can help you decide whether it would be effective for you.
What Can Online Therapy Do For You?
Participating in online therapy sessions can help you learn healthy coping mechanisms and make positive changes in your life. A licensed online therapist may address several concerns, including but not limited to the following:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Decisions surrounding your career
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Other mental illnesses
Is Online Therapy Effective In Addressing Mental Health Concerns?
Online Therapy Statistics
Depression: One meta-analysis of over 17 studies found that online therapy was more effective than face-to-face options for treating depression.
Anxiety: Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) can be done online, and one study found that it was effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety.
Bipolar Disorder: Researchers found that 95% of participants with bipolar disorder had an increased quality of life after using online therapy.
Couples Conflict: Research has shown that couples prefer online therapy over videoconference to in-person options due to the level of comfort it provides.
PTSD: Internet-based treatment helps facilitate a strong therapeutic alliance for clients with PTSD and achieves a sustained reduction of symptoms.
In addition to the above studies, specific studies have examined unique online platforms to discover user experience metrics. One study looked at the online platform of BetterHelp and asked participants to rate quality, convenience, effectiveness, achievement, affordability, and availability. Clients rated the online platform:
71% more effective
78% higher quality
76% easier to progress in
90% more availability
100% more convenient
80% more affordable
What Types Of Therapy Are Effective Online?
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
Rapid eye movement and desensitization reprocessing therapy (EMDR)
Exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP)
Internal family systems (IFS)
Differences In Effectiveness Between Online And In-Person Services
The Challenge Of Reaching Out For Help
In psychotherapy, the therapeutic process often makes it easier to approach, reflect, and recognize challenging life topics with an open mind. However, choosing a therapist, making appointments, and attending sessions can be stressful for some people. Below are a few reasons people might not contact an in-person therapist.
Fears About Starting Therapy
For some, the prospect of seeking professional help may bring up unacknowledged fears of stigmas. Some people may fear that something is wrong with them, that they will be judged, or that they cannot be helped. Although you may feel nervous about taking this step, therapists are trained to provide objective, supportive guidance, including online.
In-Person Therapy Can Feel DauntingMany people with anxiety, social phobias, severe depressive symptoms, and a history of trauma can find it challenging to attend in-office therapy appointments. They may fear being judged, rejected, or further traumatized during in-office therapy sessions.
The Potential For Additional Stress
For many people, attending traditional in-person treatment can add stress to a mental health challenge. The entire process may take several hours and involve lengthy printed paperwork.Online therapy via video chat can be an effective alternative to in-person therapy as it often cuts out the commute time, allows clients to have sessions within the comfort of their homes, and enables clients to choose their preferred method of communication.
In some cases, online therapists have found that clients can open up and experience relief of symptoms more quickly than in an office setting. This result may be due to the client being present within the safety of their home and the distance between them and the therapist. For some clients, there can be an unconscious desire to be liked by the therapist or please the therapist, which can lead to self-censorship, the omission of information, or avoiding talking about challenges.
Through an online platform like BetterHelp, you can get started with a provider within 48 hours of signing up. You can also set your preferences for a therapist, therapeutic modality, and treatment plan. With the option to choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions, you might find that online therapy fits your needs.
TakeawayOnline therapy has been shown to be effective for a variety of mental health concerns, including anxiety and depression. Numerous studies have found online therapy sessions to be just as effective as in-person therapy treatments. With online therapy services at BetterHelp, you can still have person contact just like in face-to-face therapy in an office, as you can connect with a therapist via videoconferencing. Connecting with a therapist, scheduling a session, and attending therapy can be more effective or efficient than in-person therapy. If you feel uncertain about online counseling, you can investigate the studies above or contact an online therapist for an initial appointment. You’re not alone, and high-quality support is available.
Below are a few frequently asked questions about online treatment.
Below are a few frequently asked questions about online treatment.
Many people wonder if an online psychotherapy platform can be as competent and safe as in-person psychotherapy. A study from 2014 found that online CBT could be as competent as in-person counseling, and hundreds of other studies have discussed its competence since then.
Should I Try Online Therapy?
While online psychotherapy can be competent, professional counseling in an online format may not be for everyone. You might try both in-office and online psychotherapy to evaluate which option may be most comfortable and competent for you. Counseling is a personal process, so consider your options before deciding.
What Are The Types Of Therapy?
There are hundreds of therapeutic modalities to try. If you’re unsure which might be competent for you, you may be able to set up an initial consultation with a therapist to evaluate your options. Which type of psychotherapy you use often depends on your needs and your therapist’s education and experience.
Which Type Of Therapy Is Best?
The most competent type of psychotherapy may depend on your diagnosis, symptoms, goals, and values. Popular evidence-based treatments include psychodynamic therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy. However, a few specific counseling formats are often competent for specific mental illnesses, like ERP for OCD.
How Do I Choose A Therapist?
You might choose a therapist by asking a healthcare provider for a referral, looking into therapists covered by your insurance, or using an online therapy platform to be matched with a professional. If you’re interested in a specific type of therapy, online therapy platforms tend to have a large pool of licensed therapists to choose from, so you may be more likely to find someone with experience in that type of therapy.
Do Therapists Hug Their Clients?
It is often not recommended for therapists to hug their clients, as it can breach an ethical barrier. Instead, your therapist might shake your hand or offer verbal validation.
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