Online therapy, also known as teletherapy and e-therapy, has become very popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to online therapy platforms, everyone can talk to a therapist or counselor from home.
Usually, online therapy involves textual, audio messaging, phone or video calls. Different online therapy platforms may offer different types of communication.
Talk therapy has proven to be effective in treating some mental health disorders. For instance, research data demonstrated that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can treat moderate depression as effectively as antidepressants, while also being a much safer option because it doesn’t have any negative side effects.
However, you can benefit from online therapy not only if you’ve been diagnosed with a certain mental health disorder, like depression or anxiety. For example, if you want to improve your self-esteem, experience problems with relationships, or just want to learn to practice self-care better, you can also use online counseling to get the necessary emotional support.
Talk therapy can help you overcome various challenges associated with mental health and better understand yourself. There are many things that can impact the quality of your life. Many people experience stress on a regular basis or want to establish effective two-way communication in their relationships.
In this case, online counseling can be an effective and flexible solution.
How Does This Work?
Usually, text therapy is asynchronous, which means your therapist will see your messages and reply when they go online. Such a model of communication is very flexible because therapists and clients don’t need to allocate specific hours for sessions in their schedules.
If face-to-face conversations make you feel anxious, you may also benefit from this format.
If you’ve never used text therapy before, you should keep in mind that its asynchronous format also means that your therapist may not reply to every message. Most often, therapists reply once or twice a day so you should manage your expectations.
If you’re looking for a more dynamic pace of therapy, you may want to opt for live calls instead.
Text therapy also doesn’t allow you and your therapist to maintain non-verbal communication. The therapist cannot see your body language and facial expression.
However, this may also be a reason why some people may choose textual therapy over video sessions — you can streamline your thoughts with no need to worry about the non-verbal aspects of the conversation.
Video therapy has a lot in common with traditional in-person sessions. The only difference is that you don’t need to drive to the therapist’s office. In this case, you and your therapist can see each other and talk in real-time.
Therefore, if you’re looking for instant direct responses, the video format is a great solution.
Given that there’s little difference between video and in-person therapy, if you’re choosing between traditional therapy and video sessions, you may just think of how much time and money you would spend on commuting to the therapist’s office.
If you want to save time and enjoy therapy from the comfort of your home, video calls might be the right choice.
There are also platforms like Calmerry, which offer complex packages with additional tools. When using Calmerry, you can choose an unlimited messaging package or a package that features messages and video calls.
In both cases, you will also get access to a mood-tracking tool. The mood tracker is an AI-based self-care chatbot that can help you monitor the changes in your mood and the dynamic of your symptoms.
The platform matches clients with therapists and counselors based on a quick survey, and it also allows clients to switch therapists for free. Clients can work with different licensed mental health professionals, including clinical social workers (LCSW), clinical psychologists, licensed professional counselors (LPC), marriage and family therapists (LMFT), etc.
Calmerry is available both as a web platform and mobile app for iOS and Android. In fact, there are two separate apps for clients and therapists. While both clients and therapists can benefit from flexibility, therapists can also forget about the paperwork associated with scheduling and billing, as the platform handles such tasks for them.
Now let’s take a closer look at the benefits of online therapy.
Why You Should Choose Online Therapy
First of all, it’s convenient
You don’t need to drive to a therapist’s office. Forget about traffic and enjoy therapy from virtually anywhere. When using asynchronous text therapy, you also don’t need to plan your sessions in advance. Just log in to a platform or open an app, and you can write to your therapist whenever you have a spare minute.
The online format of communication can be very comfortable for some people, especially young adults who are used to technology. Sometimes, it’s easier to talk about personal things online than when sitting in front of another person. Online therapy can be a great solution for people who suffer from social anxiety.
Many people hesitate to go to therapy because of its high cost. Online therapy costs less than in-person sessions so it might be a good option for clients with limited budgets.
Online therapy is generally more accessible than traditional therapy. For example, if you live in a remote rural area, you may need to drive for two or three hours to get to the nearest therapist.
People with physical disabilities and chronic illnesses may also be unable to leave their homes, and in this case, online therapy can be the only option.
Is It Effective?
Although online therapy is a relatively new thing in the world of mental health, there is already a growing body of research that proves its effectiveness.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is one of the most popular evidence-based approaches to therapy, can be easily delivered online through messages or video calls combined with worksheets.
Research data shows that online therapy can be as effective as in-person therapy. Both clients and therapists note that text and video therapy can bring the same or better results than face-to-face sessions.
A 2018 study demonstrated that online CBT can be as effective as traditional sessions when treating depression, anxiety, and panic disorder. In another study, video therapy helped veterans who suffered from mental health issues avoid hospitalization.
Online therapy also helps address the stigma that surrounds mental health issues and promote therapy, in general. According to research, students with eating disorders who needed additional care were more likely to seek in-person therapy after working with a therapist via asynchronous messaging.
Is Online Therapy for Everyone?
Although online therapy offers some obvious benefits, it isn’t a universal solution for all kinds of mental health issues. In some cases, having online conversations is not enough so teletherapy must be combined with face-to-face sessions or medication.
For instance, if you have suicidal thoughts, you can receive immediate support on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Online therapy is also not a sufficient type of treatment for people who suffer from severe mental health disorders and heavy substance abuse.
You can use online counseling if you want to address problems in your relationship, but if your partner demonstrates abusive behavior and you’re in danger, the right solution is to immediately call 911 or reach out to other local help organizations.
Online therapy has certain limitations, but it can still be the right choice for those who suffer from mild depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, grief, and many other mental health issues. Besides, it’s a powerful tool for self-care.
Just keep in mind that the effectiveness of both online and traditional therapy largely depends on the client’s willingness to work on their problem.
How to Get the Most From Your Online Sessions
H3: Show some commitment
Online therapy is more than just checking your messages and replying to them from time to time. You should be ready to put some work into the treatment process.
For instance, your therapist might give you homework that you will have to do between sessions. Obviously, you shouldn’t skip your sessions, and if you want to skip them, you may talk about it with your therapist.
If you experience complex or painful emotions during your sessions, there’s nothing wrong with it. Be open about your fears and disturbing thoughts.
If you feel like it’s too difficult for you to talk about a certain subject, tell your therapist about it. The more open and honest you are, the easier it will be for the therapist to help you.
No matter whether you’re talking to a therapist face-to-face or online, make sure to dedicate this time to yourself. It’s great if you can talk to a therapist from the comfort of your home, but if your kids or noisy roommates distract you all the time, you won’t be able to focus on your sessions.
Therefore, we recommend that you create a comfortable and quiet environment.
Online therapy can be as effective as traditional in-person therapy, while also being a more accessible and affordable solution. If you need emotional support but your work schedule is too tight to visit a therapist’s office, installing an online therapy app can be the best solution.
Online therapy also offers some unique benefits for therapists. Online platforms can handle various administrative tasks so therapists can focus on conversations with clients without being distracted by paperwork.
Given that online therapy doesn’t require mental health professionals to rent an office or hire administrative staff, therapists definitely should consider it as a source of additional income, and some therapists may even decide to become full-time online providers.