As technology continues to advance, so too do the options for people interested in seeking professional help of all types, including mental health.
Online therapy isn’t really anything new, but its popularity has only begun to surge recently.
Variations of online therapy have been available in some form for as long as the internet has been around. However, online therapy is less of a novelty and more of an actual, established form of treatment nowadays.
Understandably, some people are still skeptical as to whether or not online therapy is actually effective for treating issues like anxiety and depression.
This article will explore the usefulness of online therapy so that you can decide whether or not it’s a good idea for you.
What is online therapy?
Online therapy, also known as e-therapy or e-counseling, is a form of telehealth: therapy provided via the use of communications technology.
Like typical therapy, treatment can consist of one or more therapeutic modalities. However, with e-therapy, your therapist can be reached via the internet.
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Online therapy can be taken advantage of in several different ways. These include:
- Video chat. Video chat is the most popular form of online therapy. It most closely mimics a normal counseling session. You might not be able to share a physical space with your therapist, but you can still engage with them face to face.
- Voice chat. For those who don’t have access to a webcam, some therapists offer their services via voice chat. You might not be able to see your therapist’s face, but you can still hear their voice and communicate with them in real-time.
- Text messages and email. Text messages and email aren’t necessarily the best form of communication for anybody interested in receiving therapy. However, in a pinch, they can still be useful for communicating with your counselor or therapist.
How does online therapy work?
Online therapy works pretty much the same way that therapy works face to face.
- You will connect with your counselor either directly through a platform offered by their practice or via one of the online therapy service providers that they work with. Instead of meeting at their office, you will engage through an online meeting space or platform.
- You will discuss any sort of issues that are affecting you, and they will do their best to understand. (Not all forms of therapy are discussion-based, but the limitations of online therapy essentially restrict you to talk therapy.)
- The two of you will work together to discover or create solutions to these problems.
The basic formula is similar regardless of your therapist’s preferred approach. However, the approaches can vary immensely in their content, structure, and beliefs.
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Some therapists specialize in a practice. The most common type of therapy, for example, is cognitive-behavioral therapy. This is an established form of talk therapy that encourages patients to make changes by studying and identifying behavior patterns that are not healthy so that they can replace them with healthier ones.
There are many other forms of therapy, however. Take, for example, analytical therapy. Largely spawned from the legendary mind of Carl Jung, analytical psychology aims to understand and resolve the inner conflicts faced by an individual as they make their way through life.
Analytical therapy is a very comprehensive and holistic therapeutic approach that can be applied to people of all ages, from all walks of life, and struggling from any type of affliction. It provides a map of the human psyche, as well as explores the many different archetypes and experiences that are fundamental to the development of every human.
Benefits of online therapy for anxiety and depression
Here are a few examples of the best things about online therapy.
- You can take advantage of online therapy anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re on vacation, on your lunch break, or simply out of the city for a while. You can still contact your therapist.
- Online therapy is often cheaper. With more and more insurance companies covering online therapy, this is less of a concern. However, even if your insurance doesn’t cover online therapy, many therapists charge significantly less for their online services.
- It’s more accessible. Online therapy brings psychological treatments to people who are otherwise unable to connect with a therapist, either because of physical disabilities, location, or any other issue. The only barrier to access is a lack of an internet connection.
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Does online therapy work for depression and anxiety?
As far as therapy goes, the majority of the treatment simply involves conversation. As long as you’re able to maintain a strong enough internet connection to communicate effectively with your therapist, there’s no reason that you shouldn’t be able to receive the same benefits.
However, online therapy obviously only works for certain types of treatment. If you’re interested in pursuing a more interactive or hands-on therapeutic approach, such as art therapy or certain forms of Gestalt therapy, then you might not be able to do so online.
Concerns about online therapy
There are some concerns that many people have when it comes to seeking online therapy. Although most people are relieved to know that online therapy remains quite effective, these concerns are perfectly valid.
Nonetheless, people often worry that they might not be able to receive the same quality of treatment as they would be seeing a therapist in person. They may also feel that online therapy creates unnecessary complications that may interfere with the quality of their treatment.
One such issue has to do with the fact that video chat is not as accurate or up to speed as regular communication. Human beings express quite a bit of their emotions and feelings through nonverbal cues and subtle movements.
Unless you’re working with cutting-edge technology and ultra-fast internet connections, chances are you won’t be able to share these subtle cues with your therapist. This may give the impression that they’re not listening or could prevent them from interpreting or intuiting some of your less obvious feelings.
In the end, though, most studies have revealed that online therapy provides people with just about exactly the same quality of treatment that they would otherwise receive.
Online therapy is a perfectly valid method of seeking treatment for anxiety and depression. There are, of course, some differences between online therapy and treatment with a therapist face to face. However, why and large, the benefits of online therapy are just about the same as they are in person.