Some people contend that for therapy to be really effective, it can only be done face-to-face, person-to-person. Is this really true? It’s understandable that some people might feel more confident in the success of in-person consultation, but times are also changing and doing things online is no longer the fringe method of doing things that was a couple of decades ago.
When you consult a psychologist online, can you be sure that you’ll get an effective and helpful experience? Does online therapy really work?
Online Therapy Provides More Channels for Help
First of all, online therapy is important as a channel for help for the many more people suffering from anxiety and other mental health issues in today’s world. Even without the influence of a global pandemic keeping people locked down, people might struggle to get to a therapist’s office for sessions, and/or they might be too expensive. With overheads being so much lower, online therapy is more affordable and more available to more people. That means there’s more ways for a greater number of people to get the help they need.
So, in the sense of better distribution of mental health services, online therapy works very well since the vast majority of people are online either via a computer, tablet or smartphone. That’s a key first step. It’s not just opening up channels for people living in the cities, but even more importantly for those living in the suburbs and in rural areas who otherwise wouldn’t have any access to these kinds of mental health services.
The Important Part of Therapy is the Discussion
The dialogue that happens between patient and therapist is the most important part of the therapy process. That being the case, it doesn’t make a huge difference whether that happens in person or via an online connection. Some years ago, when Internet connections were slower and less reliable, it’s understandable why people would think an online consultation wouldn’t yield the same results or satisfaction. With all the juddering, cutting in and out, and slow jarring movements of the person at the end of the camera, it’s hardly a good way to talk about what’s ailing you.
Nowadays, however, this has improved immeasurably and there’s barely anything to distinguish talking to someone online from talking to someone sitting a few feet away from you.
Online Therapy Provides Additional Privacy
Another key benefit of the online channel is the greater assurance of confidentiality. When you go to visit a therapist’s office, there’s always a chance, however remote, that you’ll encounter someone you know or be seen by someone, and that can be a cause for concern for some. Of course, there’s never anything to be ashamed of when looking for help, but the feeling that someone will see you or find out can be off-putting for many people, who then end up just suffering in silence.
Online therapy is a way for people to circumvent those fears, and access their services from the privacy of their home or room without others knowing. In this sense, online therapy is better in many ways as it helps many more people take that all-important first step to getting the help they need.
Online Therapy is Not Impersonal
There’s an impression among some people that online therapy is an impersonal process, and that therefore online therapy can’t be as effective. A big part of the process is the therapist connecting with the patient, and that’s why some people think digital channels must be less effective because they rarely give the therapist a chance to properly observe the patient. This simply isn’t true, however, as multiple studies have shown.