Online counselling has been available for many patients for years. Still, few have taken advantage of virtual therapy until early 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic changed the landscape of medical treatment forever. Now, almost every therapist offers online treatment for existing patients and those starting therapy for the first time.
Online therapy makes getting help so easy and convenient. You do not have to drive anywhere for your appointment. You can also stay in the comfort of your own home or office for your sessions.
So what makes online counselling right for you right now? Below, we look at five considerations that make it the right time. Get to know these points and then decide if it will work for you.
Talk therapy once only took place in a therapist’s office for confidentiality, professionalism and record-keeping purposes. These face-to-face sessions enabled the patient and therapist to speak one-on-one in a real-time conversation. Meeting face-to-face allowed the therapist to pick up on subtle cues, such as body language. They cannot see these cues over the phone, so phone therapy was not widely used. But through virtual counselling, you still meet face-to-face, and they see your gestures, expressions and reactions.
Therapists can also offer a range of services virtually, depending on the platform they use. These services can include:
- Talk therapy
- Behavioural therapies
- Family counselling
- Group therapy
- Text, video and voice messaging
How well online therapy will work for you depends largely on the methods used. For example, you possibly need one of the following types of therapy:
- Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Psychodynamic psychotherapy
- Interpersonal therapy
These can work well virtually. But some types of therapy may not prove as effective. For example, meeting face-to-face often provides a measure of accountability some patients need, such as for addiction treatment. Severe mental illness typically requires face-to-face meetings, as well. This depends on the individual and whether the right therapies are available to each patient over the Internet.
As far as efficacy goes, one study offered the following insights:
- 93 percent of telepsychiatry patients felt virtual therapy is the same as in-person therapy
- 96 percent of patients felt satisfied with their therapy sessions
- 85 percent felt comfortable talking to their therapist virtually
Some of the mental health conditions for which virtual counselling works well are depression, anxiety and stress.
Many people struggle to fit in-person counselling into their busy lives. Others struggle to get to their sessions because of the problems for which they seek treatment. These problems hindering face-to-face therapy in the psychologist’s office include:
- Social anxiety
- Work stress
- Chronic illness
- Physical disabilities
People also struggle to find childcare or because they live too far from the counsellor. Online therapy takes these hurdles away. Anyone can see their therapist anytime with only a computer, smartphone or tablet and a high-speed internet connection. For many, remote therapy feels better suited to today’s lifestyles. Of course, an unreliable internet connection can throw a wrench into even the best-laid plans. But if you can stream movies to watch online, you can engage in online counselling.
Traditional therapy costs between $50 to $300 per session, depending on where you live and the therapist’s individual pricing. Likewise, online therapy varies in cost. Most counsellors charge the same for online sessions as they do for in-office appointments. But you waste no time driving to your appointment or missing work. You also do not have to pay for fuel or childcare to attend your sessions.
The same rules of confidentiality apply for an online session, as they do for office-based talk therapy. In fact, most online therapists use highly secure and encrypted platforms designed specifically with patient confidentiality in mind. Ask your therapist about their platform if you have concerns about personal security, data protection and confidentiality.
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