Online Therapy Explained & 6 Ways Therapy Is Beneficial
By Marie Miguel
Updated September 04, 2018
Therapy. It's important for many. A therapist can take your problems and help you come up with solutions that are manageable and will work for your style. With that said, it's difficult for some to be able to talk to a therapist. What's been on the rise as of late is online therapy. It claims to be the solution you need if you want therapy without leaving the house, or if you want therapy on the go. However, is it worth it? Does it work? Let's find out.
What Is Online Therapy?
Therapists are people who are licensed practitioners of mental healthcare. There are many different types of therapists. Psychotherapists help those who are having mental problems. For example, if one has depression, a therapist can help them get back on schedule and manage those depressive episodes. A couples' therapist can help couples that are having marriage issues. A teenage therapist can help a high schooler with an identity crisis. This list goes on.
An online therapist is a therapist who communicates to you remotely through the Internet. You can talk to them through your computer, tablet, smartphone, and any other device that can connect to the Internet. Thanks to the progression of technology, there are many methods someone can use to talk to an online therapist. These include:
- Texting. Using an online therapy app, you can message your therapist through instant messenger. As you can probably expect from an instant message, it provides quick advice. However, the problem with texting is that the messages tend to be shorter or less thought out. When you need instant relief, texting is the way to go.
- Emailing. Emailing your therapist allows you to provide a more detailed message, and the therapist can formulate a more detailed response as a result. What is a disadvantage of email and texting is that it doesn't allow for body language or tone of voice, which are typically important in a traditional therapy session.
- Voice chat. Using the phone or an app, you can speak to the therapist through voice. This allows for tone and emotions to come through, but no body language.
- Video chat. Video chatting is always ideal if you want an experience that is almost the same as visiting a traditional counselor. You can see body language, tone, and thanks to the progression of technology, there is lesser lag and lesser chances of the signal messing up.
The History of Therapy Online
Online therapy sessions have been going around for longer than you may think. Even the concept of therapy remotely is nothing new. Teletherapy, where therapy is done through phone, is a practice that has been around for a while. For example, a suicide hotline is important if someone needs to talk to someone right away.
Ever since the Internet was a tool used by universities instead of something being for the public, the idea of it one day being used for therapy was emerging. Universities had simulated therapy sessions through their computers since the 1970s. There were support groups in universities in the 1980s. As the Internet became public in the 1990s, more online therapy sessions emerged.
The Appeal Of Online Therapy
Online therapy is becoming quite popular as of lately, and it's easy to see why once you look into it. Here are some benefits.
- For those with disabilities. Someone who can't walk may find it harder to commute to a therapist's office every week. Someone who is able-bodied but has a fear of going outdoors may benefit from online therapy.
- Location and transportation problems. If you live in the middle of nowhere, it's harder to commute. If you don't have reliable transportation, that's another problem.
- It's good for those who have trouble communicating. Some people can't talk at all, or have trouble talking to strangers face-to-face. Online therapy can help ease those who are having problems with communication into a place that makes them feel more comfortable.
- You can communicate with someone on your own schedule. Online therapy is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Meanwhile, for traditional therapy, it can be a little more difficult fitting it into your schedule if you have a busy life. A stressed out college kid who has a job on the side may find it difficult to have therapy, for example, when their schedule is all over the place.
- There's less of a risk of bumping into someone you know or having someone see you pull into therapist's office. Despite online services having a few concerns, which we'll mention later, it does have a few benefits when it comes to privacy.
- Online therapy tends to cost less because many of the counselors work from home and don't need to pay for a separate office.
How Effective Is Online Therapy?
You may wonder how effective online therapy is. There are some naysayers who would testify that online therapy is no substitute for face-to-face, traditional counseling. Traditional therapy has its pros, but more and more people are realizing why online therapy has been increasing in popularity.
There have been studies proving its effectiveness. One study seems to prove that Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is just as good as CBT through a face-to-face counselor. Therapists use CBT to help those who have mental problems. It works by taking self-destructive habits and thoughts and replacing them with positive, more productive thoughts. For example, a depressed person may have constant thoughts about them not being good enough. A therapist can teach them how to discard those doubts and think of something more motivational.
Cognitive behavioral therapy, and online therapy in general, is good for those who have mild to moderate depression or anxiety. While it may be able to help more severe cases, you should consult a face-to-face professional as well.
Disadvantages Of Online Therapy
When it comes to traditional therapy vs. online therapy, both have their advantages and disadvantages. With traditional therapy, the schedule is stricter, and those who have trouble commuting are at a disadvantage. Online therapy, while revolutionary, has its own disadvantages as well, including:
- Privacy concerns. Don't get us wrong; online therapy has a secrecy oath, just like traditional therapy. The problem is that you can talk to your therapist anywhere. Even if you're trying to be secret about it, there's a chance that someone can hear you or look at your phone. Also, your therapist should perform the session in the most private way possible.
- You don't know who you're talking to sometimes. This is not the case with licensed therapist hubs such as BetterHelp, which have licensed therapists ready for you. However, if you're talking to someone outside these hubs, you should check and make sure they are who they say they are. While anyone can give advice and help you, if you want professional therapy, you should make sure they're a professional.
- Online therapy tends to not be accepted by many insurance agencies. This is not the fault of online therapy per se, but instead the slow progress of an insurance provider. It can take them a while until they accept that a treatment method is proven to be effective, and until then, they usually hold out on giving anyone insurance. Talk to your insurance provider to make sure that they can give you online therapy. If enough people demand it, the coverage may change.
What To Expect from Online Therapy
If you've had therapy in the traditional sense, online therapy is not much different. You can go to a therapy website such as BetterHelp and enter your information, payment plan, and be matched with a therapistwho is right for you.
When you're in for the first session, you should tell the therapist what you want to see during the session. Do you want to feel less anxious? Have more confidence? Get a new job? Have a good idea what you want. It doesn't have to be concrete; your relationship with the therapist can evolve over time.
The therapist can help you solve your problems by giving you a plan and helping you to accomplish that plan. Just remember that with counselor, results are not quick. You will need to follow their plan, and work with the therapist should it need to be adjusted. Many people who claim therapy is ineffective didn't give it enough time for it to work, or didn't follow the instructions.
It's frustrating, but a therapistcan teach you some coping strategies in order to keep you motivated.
Facts About Online Therapy
If you've ever wanted to know more about online therapy, you've come to the right place. Here are some facts about online therapy.
- Ever wanted to know about the first computer therapy session? It first started over 45 years ago, in 1972. Two computers, connected between UCLA and Stanford, had a simulated therapy session.
- Before the Internet was for home use, it was used for university students. 1986 had the first therapy service for troubled students. It was known as Dear Uncle Ezra. Students would write in and get therapy or advice.
- Another effective form of therapy is group therapy, where people who have a similar problem work together to find solutions and help cope. 1993 had the first online depression support group formed thanks to Depression Central.
- As the Internet became more public, a popular way to communicate between two parties was a chat room. Strangers would meet and have a conversation. In 1995, it was discovered that a chat room could be used for therapy, and the first online chat service was formed. London-based Pink Practice allowed people to receive advice and other services by chatting.
- Four in five Internet users have searched something related to mental health. If you think you're alone with your problems, you're wrong. Many people are dealing with mental health troubles, so don't feel like your problems are alone. Everyone has some sort of mental trial they go through, and there is no shame in talking to someone who can help.
- When it comes to counseling, preference is important for many people. Some people don't care about the gender or age or the counselor, while others may want a motherly figure, or a wise old man as their counselor. With online counseling, you can cycle through many different types of therapist until you find the one who is right for you.
- Therapy doesn't have to only be for people who have severe problems. If you just have minor confidence issues, or advice on how you can improve your relationship or another aspect of your life, a therapist can help. If you've ever thought about getting a therapist, this is a solution you may need. Nothing is wrong with you if you want help. In fact, seeking help is a sign that you're strong and you want to see different results than what you're going through right now. Talk to someone today.
If you need to talk to a therapist online, don't hesitate. Online therapy is proven to be beneficial, and there are many reasons why this is the case. An online talk therapy session can help motivate you and get you the solutions you need.
If you're anxious, a therapist can help identify certain triggers that make you feel that way. If you have problems sleeping, a therapist can help you figure out the reason for that as well. For those who are suffering from trauma, a therapist can help you by identifying the reason and teaching you coping mechanisms.
In other words, there is no reason why you shouldn't consider therapy. Everyone deserves someone who can help them with their problems, be it mental problems, relationship issues, or other life challenges. Speak to a therapist today and see how they are able to help you. Don't hesitate!