While online therapy (teletherapy, e-therapy, or e-counseling) has been around for several decades now, many people are still skeptical of the treatment. Some say that meeting with a therapist in person is the only way to get effective mental health care while others say that online therapy is better for those who have depression or anxiety disorders that make them more comfortable seeking treatment from home. With such mixed reviews, how can you know whether online therapy is right for you?
Benefits of Online Therapy
One of the most important benefits of online therapy is its accessibility. For those who have had to spend hours or even days trying to find a good therapist who fits our needs, being able to access thousands of different counselors online is a major plus. If you have a smart phone or other internet access at home, all you have to do is go online and find an online therapy resource and answer a few questions and you will have your choice of professional therapists, counselors, psychiatrists, or psychologists. The ways to communicate with your online therapist are simple and include:
- Videoconference (like Facetime or Skype)
- Chat room
- Instant messages
With any of these choices, you can talk to your therapist any time with the push of a button or click of a key. You are able to message your therapist any time of day or night through a website and if you are not happy with the choice of therapist, you can change anytime.
- No Appointment or Waiting - You do not have to go to an office or even leave your house. In fact, you do not even have to leave your bed! No appointment is necessary unless you want to meet in real time.
- Less Inhibition - Another great thing about online therapy is the ability to speak freely. People feel more comfortable and able to open up more when not meeting face-to-face.
- No Insurance Needed – You do not have to have insurance to use online therapy. It is also much more affordable. The reason for this is because the therapist does not have to pay for an office, transportation, and there is less overhead cost.
- No Transportation Issues – Let’s face it, gas is expensive but with online therapy you do not have to worry about that. You do not have to get a ride from anyone or catch a bus or taxi.
Disadvantages of Online Therapy
Of course, there are always disadvantages to everything and online therapy is no exception. Some of these include:
- No Insurance Coverage – Many insurance companies do not cover mental health and the ones that do often do not cover online therapy.
- Security – Some sites are not as secure as they need to be so you have to do your homework. Most are protected by federal laws and are Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant, but not all of them.
- No Drugs – You cannot get a prescription from your online therapist. You will have to see a psychiatrist or your general practitioner to get medication, if it is needed.
No matter what, if you or someone you love needs emergency help, do not rely on your online therapist. Call an ambulance, hotline, or go to the nearest emergency room.