The pros and cons of online therapyAre you considering online therapy? The internet has opened up new avenues for mental health treatment, but there are a few pros and cons that you might want to consider before you decide if Telehealth is right for you. Here are some of the biggest advantages and disadvantages of online therapy.

Pros of Online Therapy

Online therapy offers access to mental health information to people in rural or remote areas as well as people who don’t have time to travel to a therapist’s office.

Those who live in remote areas simply might not have access to any other form of mental health treatment because there are no mental health services in their geographic area. Telehealth gives these individuals access to treatment that they might not have otherwise.

Online therapy also provides accessibility to individuals who are disabled or housebound. Mobility can be a big issue when it comes to accessing mental health care. Individuals who are unable to leave their home for various reasons, such as physical or mental illness, may find online therapy a practical alternative to traditional psychotherapy in an office.

Online therapy is often more convenient. Since the person attends therapy sessions online in the comfort of their own home or office, they can often schedule therapy sessions for times that are the most convenient for them.

Today, many states require insurance providers to cover online therapy just as they would traditional therapy sessions. Contact your insurance company to learn more about Telehealth therapy will be covered by your policy. Online therapists often offer affordable treatment options for those who are not covered by health insurance.

In general, the internet makes mental health information more accessible. People may feel comfortable talking to friends and family about health care issues but may not feel the same discussing mental health concerns. For people who want expert guidance, a therapist is a better option.

Cons of Online Therapy

There are a number of drawbacks with Telehealth. For one, some insurance companies will not cover Online Therapy. Insurance coverage for Telehealth can depend upon the state you live in as well as the insurance you have.

Many states do not allow out-of-state mental health practitioners to provide services. In such cases, your provider would need to be licensed in both their home state as well as your home state.

Keeping your personal information private is a major concern in psychotherapy, and online treatment adds a layer of complexity. Confidentiality is just as important in Telehealth as it is in more traditional forms of treatment delivery. Since information is being transmitted online, it makes privacy leaks and hacks more of a concern. Technology problems can also make it difficult to access treatment when you really need it.

Since online therapists are distant from the client, it may be difficult to respond quickly and effectively when a crisis happens. If a client is experiencing suicidal thoughts or has suffered a personal tragedy, it can be difficult or even impossible for the therapist to provide direct assistance.

Online Therapy can be useful for a variety of situations, but not when it comes to more serious psychiatric illnesses that require close and direct treatment. 

In some cases, online therapists may miss facial expressions, vocal signals or body language. These signals can often be quite telling and give the therapist a clearer picture of your feelings, thoughts, moods, and behaviors. Some delivery methods such as  video conferencing can provide a clearer picture of the situation, but they sometimes lack the intimacy of in-office therapy.

Online therapy eliminates geographic restraints, making the enforcement of legal and ethical codes difficult. Therapists can treat clients from anywhere in the world, and many states have different licensing requirements and treatment guidelines. It is important to understand your therapist’s qualifications and experience before you begin the treatment process.

Randi Fredricks, Ph.D.

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References

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Mallen, Michael J.; Vogel; Rochlen; Day (2005). Online Counseling Reviewing the Literature From a Counseling Psychology Framework. The Counseling Psychologist. 33 (6): 819–871.

Skinner, Ardiran; Zack, Jason. (2004). Counseling and the Internet. American Behavioral Scientist. 48 (4): 434-446.

Alleman, James R. (2002). Online counseling: The Internet and mental health treatment. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training. 39 (2): 199–209.

Zack, Jason; Stricker, George (2004). Kraus, Ron, ed. Online counseling: a handbook for mental health professionals. Amsterdam: Academic.

Glueckauf, R.L.; Fritz; Ecklund-Johnson; Liss; Dages; Carney (2002). Videoconferencing-based family counseling for rural teenagers with epilepsy. Rehabilitation Psychology. 47: 49–72.

Spiro, R.H.; Devenis (1991). Telephone Therapy: Enhancement of the psychotherapeutic process. Psychotherapy in Private Practice. 9: 31–55.

Change, T.; Yeh, Krumboltz (2001). Process and outcome evaluation of an on-line support group for Asian American male college students. Journal of Counseling Psychology. 48 (3): 319–329.

Pros and Cons of Online Therapy October 1st, 2020|Categories: Counseling, Psychotherapy, Relationship Counseling, Therapy|Tags: e-therapy, online therapy, phone therapy, text therapy, Web therapy

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