Online counseling is an old trend that flourished during the pandemic.
With the severe pandemic measures, people who were visiting therapists had to adjust to the new form of treatment—internet therapy.
Although most of the results turned out positive, skepticism around the effectiveness of online therapy still exists.
To clear the air, we’ve prepared everything you need to know about the virtual sessions and five reasons you should consider trying them out yourself!
What is Online Counseling Therapy?
Online therapy refers to the mental health counseling sessions and services conducted via the internet. It also appears as e-therapy, teletherapy, or cyber-therapy.
During a session, therapists use specific tools to successfully conduct their meetings with the patients. Communication can be via email, video chats, voice messages, or phone calls.
Essentially, any online therapy can occur in real-time or passively (e.g. via text messages).
While most clients prefer face-to-face communication over platforms like Zoom, some patients feel they can express themselves better through typing.
What Online Therapy Can Help With
Online therapies are much recommended for treating conditions that, in some instances, require psychotherapy or keeping an emotional journal.
Such mental conditions involve:
- Anger management;
- Substance abuse;
- Anxiety disorder;
- Bipolar disorder;
- Eating disorders;
- Emotional conflicts.
Online counseling programs can successfully treat any of the conditions above.
However, therapists cannot prescribe any medication, considering the distance and the possibility of abusing the online opportunity.
Ethical Bounds of the Online Therapy
According to the American Psychological Association APA, each patient and therapist involved in an online therapy has to follow the ethical rules for using technology in the mental health domain.
In addition, therapists must follow these ethical requirements:
- Basic knowledge of technology. Each therapist is bound by law to protect the information shared during a session.
Therefore, therapists must have at least the fundamentals down regarding technology to conduct a successful session and safeguard patients’ data.
- Offer services according to the qualifications. Often patients share possible signs of other mental health issues, and therapists have no right to attempt and treat the patient for an illness they’re not specialized in or have the needed experience for.
They’re bound to transfer the patient to another, more qualified therapist or, in some cases, a psychiatrist.
- Continuous learning and improvement. A college diploma means nothing if the therapist isn’t broadening their horizons.
Psychology requires constant tracking of the latest findings in the field because it is ever-evolving and a silent assassin of the 21st century.
Therefore, every therapist must attach their achievements like the diploma, workshops, discussions, published articles, research, etc., to prove their knowledge of contemporary psychological phenomenons.
- Know the laws and regulations of each state. Every state in the US has its own rules about online mental health therapies.
If a state requires a special license or training, a therapist must acquire it before taking patients from the said state.
5 Reasons Why Online Therapy is Useful
People have divergent views on online therapy because it’s virtual.
Not everyone is comfortable sharing such intimate details from their life over a Zoom call, and that’s alright!
However, there are some areas online counseling tackles better than in-person sessions.
Check out below what makes online counseling sessions worth considering:
1. The Online Counseling is Effective
Online counseling is effective because it allows you to treat the issues straight from the comfort of your home.
That is probably one of the most significant advantages over in-person therapies because many people avoid treating their mental health issues for fear of being judged.
Additionally, some online counseling services are available 24/7.
Depending on how a person arranges their treatment, therapists leave the 24/7 contact availability via chats and voice messages in most online counseling services.
That allows patients to ask for help whenever they get consumed by dark thoughts instead of waiting for the next session.
2. It’s Accessible for People with Physical Limitations
Often people with limitations cannot get the much-needed mental health treatment because therapists’ offices aren’t wheelchair-friendly.
It’s alarming even if a single person struggling with mental illness cannot get proper help due to technicalities.
According to research on the percentage rate of disabled people struggling with mental health issues, experts registered 17.4 million (32.9%) US adults.
Thanks to online counseling therapies, people with disabilities have access to professional help that can guide them to create healthy habits and improve their lifestyles according to their conditions.
3. It’s Affordable and Convenient
Teletherapies are much more affordable than in-person ones if you do the math.
A single online counseling program costs half of the price of a regular in-person program.
Minus the costs for commuting or driving to the therapist’s office, and you’d get the final equation.
Each online therapist conducts the appropriate and necessary therapies like in-person ones.
The sessions last as any other regular session, covering all the needed basics.
4. Treatment is More Approachable
Thanks to online therapies, every treatment is more approachable for several reasons.
Firstly, there are many psychological specialists online who can specifically take their fields’ cases.
That boosts the confidence in the therapist—a crucial factor for a patient to start opening up.
Secondly, with the cost-effective prices, any person can afford treatment for a mental condition.
Also, people with disabilities can finally get proper treatment as they can join a session straight from their home or any place they feel comfortable or private.
5. Online Counseling Sessions are Highly Confidential
Each licensed therapist, be it online or in real-life, has ethical and legal bound to respect their patient’s privacy and keep the information they extract from the sessions and discussions classified.
As online counseling includes voiced messages that can contain sensitive information, the therapist is bound to delete them after the session or if the patient asks them to.
Moreover, before every session, online therapists make sure that the room where they hold the session is private and isolated. However, the patient must secure an intimate environment as well.
To put it simply, the patient has every right to ask for the privacy of their information, and the therapist is obliged to obey their demands.
If the therapist takes matters into their hands, or if they misuse evidence, the patient has every right to take legal action.
Online Counseling: Get Started
Switching to online counseling is super easy. All you have to do is register to your favorite platform and pick a therapist.
You might have to answer some questions regarding what you’d like the sessions to look like (individual or with a partner, via text or voice messages, etc.).
Afterward, the platform may recommend a best-fitting therapist or let you choose them yourself.
We suggest reading the reviews not just on the official online counseling sites but on several trusted forums, too. Otherwise, you may end up with a counselor that doesn’t match your needs.