Online therapy, psychiatric treatment provided by a mental health counselor over the internet, has been an effective and convenient option for years. However, in these days of COVID-restricted societies, this has become more of a necessity than an option and requires a degree of customization for both clients and advisors. Let's read what are the benefits & disadvantages of online therapy.
As a psychologist who has been working as a "classic" personal counselor for more than 25 years, I was skeptical at first. Will the client and I be able to properly connect in cyberspace? What about my ability to read body language in a Zoom meeting? Would you be able to provide enough emotional support to a client in emotional distress behind the screen? I leaned toward the downsides while the obvious upsides murmured unconvincingly in the background.
My first online session didn't convince me otherwise: connection problems with the internet, no sound, and my discomfort with the new "office" made me fail. However, after some sessions, things started to flow. It soon became a comfortable routine and the customer was just as "real" in this environment. I've even had clients try both in-person and online settings and then choose to continue online. The pros began to outweigh the cons, and why?
Time and Logistics: No time (or expense) is wasted on transportation and a session can even take place during your lunch break at work or after work in the office.
Privacy: Most, if not all, clients place a high value on privacy when seeking mental health treatment. Online therapy offers additional privacy as you don't have to go to an office where you can meet other clients or therapists. This is especially convenient for a client who may be leaving the office excited and in need of some alone time.
Beneficiary: Research has shown that online therapy can be just as a beneficiary in treating mental health issues like depression, anxiety disorders, and mild to moderate addictions.
Accessibility: Anyone with a reliable internet connection can access an online meeting. This means that people living in remote locations, with disabilities, or with children in need of care can now easily access treatment.
Comfortable: Taking place in the comfort of your own home, online therapy often gives you the option of having sessions that fit your schedule instead of standard office hours.
Place: There is no place! You can choose your favorite therapist no matter what country you live in. Having worked in different countries over the years, I have had the pleasure of being able to offer continuous therapy to my clients around the world.
Confidentiality: Keeping your personal information private is always a top priority in psychotherapy, but online counseling adds a layer of complexity, especially when the therapist sends information and practice to the client rather than delivering it privately. It is a question that needs to be resolved between the client and the therapist.
Insured: Some, but not all, insurance companies agree to cover treatment online. In these Corona times, however, insurance companies also had to adjust their claims. Nevertheless, a consultation with your insurance company can give you peace of mind.
Not in treatment: People in acute distress, with suicidal thoughts, or with serious psychiatric illnesses need immediate treatment or personal care, and E-Therapy cannot provide sufficient help in these cases. However, if you are already in online treatment, your counselor can help you by directing you to the necessary facilities.
COVID-19. Last but not least, online therapy offers the obvious and 100% safe way to contract Covid in the office and avoid the hassles of quarantine. We recently had a Covid counselor in practice and then clients and therapists who were in close contact, myself included, had to quarantine for a week.
I hope this article was able to provide an overview of the advantages & disadvantages of online therapy. I am and still am a big supporter of online treatment for clients with mild to moderate mental health issues and would highly recommend anyone who is still skeptical to give it a try!
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