Online Counseling Versus Traditional Counseling
Although online counseling and traditional counseling share many benefits, there are a few key differences between the two options, which we'll explore in more detail below. Both offer psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy) with licensed mental health providers.
Traditional Counseling Benefits And Drawbacks
Traditional counseling simply means in-person counseling, or face-to-face counseling. If you prefer to speak to your licensed counselor about potentially sensitive topics face-to-face, then traditional counseling may be the most suitable option for you. Some people report feeling more comfortable with their psychotherapist in person.
However, in-person counseling requires clients to travel to meet their licensed counselors. People generally need to book appointments during their busy workdays, which means taking time off work to drive through traffic. Another drawback to traditional counseling is that many times clients are required to sit in waiting rooms together, and not everyone feels comfortable with the general lack of privacy. In addition, people may not have access to reputable counselors or other licensed mental health providers nearby, which can create challenges when it comes to meeting with licensed mental health providers on a consistent basis.
Online Counseling Benefits And Drawbacks
If you feel nervous about speaking with your counselor or licensed mental health providers face-to-face, then online counseling or online therapy may be the best option for you. You may access online counseling platforms or online therapy platforms from the comfort and privacy of your own home. You don't need to waste any time getting to your appointment; you can connect with your licensed counselor right away (as long as you have an internet connection).
Another benefit online counseling or online therapy offers is the frequency of communication with your licensed counselor. In traditional counseling, clients meet with their counselors or licensed mental health providers once a week. With online counseling or online therapy, you enjoy weekly live sessions with your licensed counselor (via video chat), but you also have unlimited messaging. This means if you're experiencing any symptoms of mental health issues in the middle of the night (like panic attacks or negative thoughts and behaviors due to PTSD or depression) you can message your licensed counselor in the moment. The next morning, you can see what your licensed counselor has replied.
However, not everyone enjoys speaking with their counselors or licensed mental health providers via video chat in online therapy. As mentioned above, some people prefer to speak with their counselors face-to-face.
Moving Forward: Selecting Psychotherapy Approaches
The choice is ultimately yours; research and personal stories show that both online counseling or online therapy and traditional counseling are powerful tools for healing from mental health issues.
Both online counselors and traditional counselors face the necessary education, exams, and training requirements before becoming licensed counselors. For example, all BetterHelp counselors possess at least three years (and 1,000 hours) of hands-on experience. Psychotherapy (talk therapy) may include meeting with marriage and family therapists, counselors, psychologists, social workers, or other licensed mental health providers. All BetterHelp providers have been certified by their state's professional board.