Online therapy is widely considered to be an effective and reliable way of meeting a person’s mental health care needs.
It provides a comfortable and private way to reach out for mental health treatment, without having to visit a counselor’s office in person.
You can do it sitting in a parked car during lunchtime or from the comfort of your private space from any place in the world using your smartphone, tablet, et or computer having a reliable internet connection.
Moreover, a 50 minutes session, for example, will last exactly 50 minutes as opposed to the 50 minutes plus the extra time is taken in traveling to and fro from the therapist’s office and even further for scheduling changes, if any.
Is online therapy effective?
Online therapy provides a safe environment in which you can tackle issues such as anxiety, depression, stress, anger management, panic attacks, insomnia, bereavement, relationship issues, and many more.
Security and ethics
Online therapy continues to grow. However, since it involves communication through digital devices it faces certain security issues different from in-person therapy.
Therapists and patients need to be aware of computer viruses, theft of devices, hackers, inadequate built-in security systems, phishing scams, and unsecured electronic files.
Further, the code of ethics binds professionals working in telemedicine to be better equipped with the knowledge of what they have to do when they encounter any moral or ethical dilemma and the principles of values they should aspire to uphold.
Mental health issues that can be treated online
To date, there are over 200 classified forms of mental illness, but the most common mental health issues that can be treated with online therapy fall into the below-mentioned seven categories.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health illness in the world. Some of the common ones include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Post-traumatic stress (PTSD), and social anxiety disorder.
Without treatment, an anxiety disorder can escalate and make the individual feel anxious all time.
Thankfully, online therapy can help the individual identify the cause and utilize the coping mechanisms available to reduce feelings of anxiety.
There are dozens of platforms online dedicated to treating anxiety, or a combination of it along with depression, which is extremely common. Best Online Therapy lists the most recommend anxiety therapy sites out of all of those which are available.
Mood disorders are usually the result of emotional challenges that either arise from intense feelings of joy or sadness and are difficult to manage.
While these ups and downs are common among most people, in some cases emotional outbursts like bipolar disorder, depression, and dysthymic disorder can reach extremes.
While these mood swings can be stressful and debilitating, online therapy has given me a lot of hope.
Online treatment for mood disorders is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) often used in conjunction with medication.
Using this method, your online therapist will be able to identify and challenge the inaccurate and distorted way in which your brain processes information and make you aware of the mood shift much before it is going to happen.
Psychotic disorders can lead to psychosis, an abnormal condition relating to the mind which can lead to an increase in functionality. Some symptoms of psychosis can include:
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Sleeping issues, lack of motivation, and social withdrawal are reflected by difficulty in carrying out day-to-day activities
- Abnormal speech, thought, and behavior
Online treatment for psychotic disorders differs from patient to patient but often includes the following:
- Antipsychotic medication is prescribed digitally and sent to the pharmacy of your choice online or to a pharmacy nearest to you
- Psychotherapy, also referred to as ‘talk therapy, ranges from CBT to several other modalities and is recommended online
While online intervention is possible, it is much better to first get a diagnosis face to face and then use an online telehealth platform such as Amwell for example to manage prescriptions and have psychiatric follow-ups as needed.
Eating disorders are not only about obsessive exercise and cutting down on calories, they are characterized by Anorexia, binge eating, Nervosa, and Bulimia which require online treatment.
These disorders are most often diagnosed in adolescents and occur in all genders and across all races, of which Anorexia has the highest mortality rate among patients afflicted with this mental illness.
Symptoms of eating disorders are indicated by induced vomiting, calorie counting, hiding food, obsessive workout, brittle hair, and nails, low self-esteem, and poor confidence.
Treatment includes online counseling to understand the irrational causes of your disorder and utilize your inner source to overcome it, besides medication to regulate blood sugar levels and hormones.
A prolonged pattern of rigid and intense thoughts, actions, and emotions can be attributed to a personality disorder.
It leads to anxiety and makes the task of day-to-day life difficult to complete. People with this malady often suffer from inner turmoil, low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.
Causes could range from a family history of mental illness or even extreme or unforeseeable punishment experienced as a child or head injuries.
While medication cannot cure personality disorders on its own, it can reduce clinical symptoms.
Online Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) treatment, which is based on CBT, is the most effective way of curing personality disorders and other related mental health problems which can affect your relationship, work, safety, and emotional well-being.
Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, which makes up 80% of the cases. It typically affects those over 65 and is a progressive disease, which means it becomes more and more severe with time.
This progressive disorder leads to dysfunction and decline in cognition, language, and memory, causing distress to both the sufferer and the family members. Physical outcomes include a lack of coordination and susceptibility to injuries.
Though medications are supportive as the first line of treatment, online counseling for dementia is extremely useful for those individuals who are in the mild or moderate stage of this disorder.
It is also useful for those caregivers of individuals with dementia. Through online cognitive or brain training, both individuals and family members can learn how to cope with the different types of this disorder and how to adapt to it.
Autism is a lifelong medical condition that affects children of all ethnic and racial groups. Genetic mutations present in parents, siblings, or first-degree relatives are the main causes of Autism.
Exposure of expecting mothers to harmful radiation or environmental toxins like paint and smoke can also cause Autism.
Symptoms of Autism can show repetitive behavior, avoiding eye contact, flapping hands, and spinning in circles among others.
Online Autism therapy is very supportive for a loved one, though due to the wide range of Autism presentations, no single approach managed the ailment. The benefits of teletherapy services during this time will include:
- A consistent plan of care is a key factor in Autism therapy treatment
- More opportunities for parents to get involved in training
- Easy to begin as the child is already familiar with the home environment
- Flexible session times and easy access for families who need transport to reach therapy
Now that normalcy has been restored
As life has now returned to near-normal, it is evident that online therapy is here to stay, but it won’t be the only method to avail of treatment for mental health issues.
At the same time, it is important to take time out for yourself and your mental health problems.
Having said all that, digital therapy or telemedicine may not be suitable for some of the people who desperately need it.
Elderly persons or those with reading challenges, those with lower incomes, or due to issues like inadequate internet access and data fees may find it difficult to make use of this mode of treatment.
In addition, certain mental health issues like suicidal thoughts, personality disorders, thought disorders, or medical issues which have not been very well monitored are better suited for virtual therapy than others.
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.