I knew someone who was battling with bipolar disorder. She had begun offline therapy but couldn’t continue as she had a daughter to take care of and a business to manage.
Her mood swings were getting worse, and she needed to talk. Someone in her workplace suggested online therapy. She was apprehensive in the beginning but decided to go for it. The results she received were unimaginable.
The tiff between offline and online therapy for mental health services is ongoing. Each comes with its sets of advantages and disadvantages.
But, if I talk about online therapy, it gives one access to the therapist in the comfort of their home. This is not just it.
There are an array of advantages to availing online therapy services to boost one’s mental health. We’ll get to know them eventually.
Before we proceed, here are a few words about myself. Hello, this is Becky Lindquiste, a clinical psychologist by profession. I am a mental health writer as well. I have always attempted to help people get better with their mental health.
Advantages of Online Therapy Services
Online counseling has existed for a long, but its popularity rose by a whopping 124% during the pandemic when face-to-face counseling was impossible for people. You’ll be amazed to learn the results of a survey conducted by the University of Zurich.
Of the 62 participants, 32 received online therapy, and 30 went for face-to-face interaction to treat moderate depression. After receiving eight sessions, the success rate was 53% for online and 50% for offline participants.
Observations showed that the recovery rate in follow-up sessions was higher in online participants than in those seeking therapy online.
However, this study was on a small scale, and more research is needed to understand the effectiveness of online therapy. Let’s get to understanding the advantages of online therapy.
The easy accessibility is one of the biggest reasons why people, mostly younger adults, prefer to switch to the online mode. You needn’t have to go anywhere. The therapist is just a mouse click or phone call away.
Most online therapies are available 24/7. So, you could select a time and day at your convenience. Also, you do not have to worry about how you look or what you wear.
You could be in your pajamas, sipping your morning coffee while you indulge in a hearty conversation with the therapist.
I had come across someone who wasn’t comfortable going out due to severe injuries he received from burns. Yet, due to his depression and increased anxiety levels, he needed therapy.
The matter was resolved when he got to know of online therapy services. It relieved him, as he didn’t have to bother about appearing in public and yet would bring a resolution to his problems.
Flexibility of Time
‘This is another factor that most find feasible in the virtual mode. You do not have to take off from work to see the therapist. You can do that at any time which suits you the best.
It could be early morning or late night. It saves you from the waiting time you might face if there’s a rush at the therapist’s office.
Mental health counseling is still a stigma for many. People need help. But not everyone is comfortable letting their friends and acquaintances know of the same. If you’ve to visit the therapist’s office, you’ll have other people seeing you go out of the house.
You may have to answer their queries. But, when it is online, it’s between you and the therapist, without others around you realizing that you are in the middle of a session.
Then there’s the cost factor as well. For in-person therapy, the average cost may range between $100 and $200 per session. On the other hand, in the case of online therapy, it is way cheaper.
Here are some of the rates provided by different platforms.
- $60 to $90 per week (video, unlimited messaging, texting, and phone calls)
- $50 to $110 per week (video, unlimited message, text, and phone calls)
- $60-$90 (for couple therapy, unlimited messaging)
The affordable cost is one thing, but ensure you opt for a licensed therapist for a better and more authentic experience when in the virtual mode.
Disadvantages of Online Therapy
Where there are boons, there are banes. Online therapy gives you the convenience of sitting in the comforts of your home and opting for therapy services at a time that suits you best. Yet, there are certain things where in-person therapy is superior to the virtual method.
- The personal touch is missing.
- The therapist often fails to identify the non-verbal cues and gestures, which are also crucial in understanding a person’s mental health.
- There’s a lack of resources like music, play, or art therapy, sometimes needed to treat specific conditions.
- You are technology-dependent. If your system crashes, or there is a power cut or disruption in your internet services, it hampers your therapy. In the case of offline therapy, you won’t face such a problem.
Which are the available online therapy platforms?
There are many on the list. Some that need special mention are BetterHelp, Brightside, Sondermind, Talkspace, ReGain, etc. Many have asked me for a comparison between sondermind and betterhelp. Both have their pros and cons. While Sondermind offers virtual and in-person therapy, BetterHelp is about online talk therapy. Sondermind covers insurance, and BetterHelp doesn’t. The differences are endless. Before enrolling in any online therapy platform, knowing the benefits you’ll get and the ones you won’t is essential.
Can online therapists prescribe medicines?
Therapists cannot prescribe medicines online, regardless of whether they are licensed. However, if you consult a psychiatrist online, they’ll have the right to prescribe medicines online. There’s an exception in this regard, though. Psychiatrists aren’t allowed to prescribe medications with controlled substances online, like Adderall, Ritalin, etc.
Online therapy is advantageous in many ways but is not free from risk. When you are using the virtual platform, you are at risk of privacy breaches or online fraud.
So, you’ve got to do what it takes to maintain your safety and security while counseling online and sharing your information privately. Once that’s resolved, online counseling shouldn’t be much of a hassle.
Jean Smith is a fitness enthusiast and blogger who focuses on fitness and a healthy lifestyle. She is passionate about assisting people in living healthier lifestyles and is constantly on the lookout for new and creative methods to stay fit and healthy. Her articles are excellent resources for anyone interested in improving their health and fitness.