Online therapy became a necessity to treat mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. People had to talk to their therapists using video conferences or phone calls.
But what about now?
A study published in JAMA Network found that 88.1% of 12,828 mental health service providers were still offering virtual therapy sessions in September 2022.
And there’s more.
A nationwide poll from the American Psychiatric Association discovered that 6 out of every 10 poll participants expressed the desire to use telehealth services.
As you can see, online therapy is becoming popular quickly. But is it really that effective for mental health treatment?
Let’s find out.
What is Online Therapy?
Online therapy is a process of providing mental health services in a virtual setting.
So, instead of meeting your therapist in a traditional office setting, you will receive mental health treatment from a certified therapist through:
- Video conference
- Email or text
- Phone calls
- Voice messaging
You can select a method of communication according to your preference as long as it doesn’t hinder the treatment process. All you need is a computer, tablet, or phone to connect to your therapist.
Want to learn more about therapy and psychology before making a decision? Get free resources and guides about psychology here.
Benefits of Online Therapy
With online therapy, you can enjoy the benefits of mental health treatment from the comfort of your home. And the best part – you don’t have to worry about public prejudices related to mental health care.
But the benefits don’t end here.
Here are some of the amazing benefits of online therapy you must know:
1. Convenient and Flexible
You don’t have to travel or move anywhere to receive treatment with online therapy.
Do you have a physical injury, mobility issue, or other problems that make it difficult to leave your house?
If that’s the case, you no longer have to worry about missing your therapy sessions.
With online therapy, you can talk to a professional therapist from anywhere, saving you tons of money, time, and other unnecessary hassles.
Are you worried about suddenly meeting someone you know outside of the mental health clinic and being labeled with depressing stigmas?
Despite all the efforts the government has made to make people aware of mental issues like PTSD or other mental complications, many still don’t see receiving a therapy session in a positive light.
With online therapy, you don’t have to wait at a clinic full of strangers and feel vulnerable. You can talk to your therapist from anywhere, making protecting your privacy and mental health easier.
3. The Comfort of Your Home
Your home is the one place where you feel most secure and comfortable. At your home, you can create a peaceful setting where your mind can relax.
Online therapy allows you to receive mental health counseling from the comfort of your home, making it easier for you to open up.
The result is less anxiety, better conversation with your therapist, and a more effective mental health treatment.
4. Greater Availability
Do you want to attend your therapy sessions during the weekend or evening? Online therapy has a wider range of availability, making it easier to schedule a time frame you are comfortable with.
It means no more worrying about your children or work schedules. You can talk to your therapist whenever you want.
Is Online Therapy Effective for Mental Health Treatment?
Now, it’s time to ask a very important question. Are the online therapy sessions as effective as the offline ones for mental health treatment?
Well, the studies show they are.
A study published by the Journal of Anxiety Disorder claimed that online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is as effective as in-person CBT.
Meanwhile, another study published in the World J Psychiatry found:
- The online therapy sessions improved the mental health of the participating patients by a great margin.
- Teletherapy sessions are quite effective in treating PTSD, anxiety, and depression.
- Patients participating in the study are satisfied with how easy and comfortable online therapy sessions were.
- Most mental health evaluations run via online therapy sessions are as reliable as the tests conducted during the in-person sessions.
When Is It Better to Seek in-person Therapy Sessions?
Online therapy is pretty successful in treating several mental health issues. It’s especially true when it comes to treating PTSD, anxiety disorders, and depression.
However, it doesn’t mean the virtual therapy sessions will work for everyone.
To some people, the online setting just doesn’t feel real. For example, an article published in the American Psychological Association claimed that teletherapy is not effective for a select set of people.
It includes individuals with homicidal behavior, suicidal tendencies, and other severe mental health issues. To treat these individuals, psychiatrists need to provide their services face-to-face.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, research shows that online therapy can be as effective as in-person therapy sessions for treating mental health problems.
But even if it’s effective for many people, it doesn’t mean it will be for everyone. Individuals with several mental issues or traumas will still need in-person therapy sessions.
On the other hand, some people might not be comfortable with the virtual settings.
In the end, it all boils down to your personal preferences and needs.