Online therapy, also referred to as teletherapy or telehealth, has become increasingly popular in the past few years, especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Online therapy can be defined as counseling services that are conducted virtually through a HIPAA-compliant platform. Like any form of therapy, online therapy comes with its own set of pros and cons.
People might decide to seek online therapy for many reasons including the lack of providers in their rural or remote areas, due to accessibility concerns for individuals who are disabled or unable to leave their homes, access to a more extensive pool of therapists, and more. To make an informed decision on if online therapy might be right for you, it is important to consider what the pros and cons are. Read along to find out more about what are some of the key advantages and disadvantages of online therapy!
Pros of Online Therapy:
1. Convenience and Flexibility:
One of the most significant advantages of online therapy is its convenience. Clients can access therapy from the comfort of their own homes or other convenient locations, which ultimately eliminates the need for travel and saves time. Online therapy often offers more flexible scheduling options, including evenings and weekends, making it easier for people with busy schedules to receive treatment. For individuals that work a common 8 am to 5 pm work schedule, it is helpful to be able to hop on to a telehealth therapy session on their lunch break rather than having to take a half or full work day off so they can present to an office for an in-person session.
2. Accessibility and Range of Therapists:
Online therapy can be especially beneficial for individuals who have limited access to in-person therapy due to geographical concerns, physical limitations, and/or other barriers. Online therapy can help people in rural or remote areas or those with mobility issues access mental health services and widen the pool of providers they can choose from. It is important to note that depending on the state and the type of license that the provider holds, there are specific requirements that the provider must adhere to regarding online therapy. For example, a Texas LPC or LPC Associate license only grants authority for the clinician to practice in Texas. Therefore, if you are on vacation out of state, you may not be able to conduct a session until you return to the state your provider is licensed.
3. Anonymity and Comfortability:
Some individuals might feel more comfortable and at ease discussing sensitive or personal issues when they can do so from the privacy of their own space. This can lead to greater openness and honesty in therapy which can lead to more productive therapy sessions. This can be especially helpful for people with social anxiety or other conditions that make in-person interactions challenging.
4. Cost Savings:
Online therapy can sometimes be more cost-effective than traditional in-person therapy, as it eliminates expenses related to transportation and childcare. In today’s economy, saving money is definitely a great benefit when possible.
Cons of Online Therapy:
1. Lack of Non-Verbal Cues and Lack of Physical Presence:
In traditional face-to-face therapy, therapists can pick up on subtle non-verbal cues, such as changes in body language and facial expressions, which can be challenging to interpret over video or text-based communication. This might lead to misunderstandings or missed cues and might make it more challenging for therapists to assess their clients’ emotional states accurately. It is also important to note that some individuals may find comfort in the physical presence of a therapist during in-person sessions. Online therapy lacks this physical proximity, which can be a drawback for those who feel a stronger connection in face-to-face interactions.
2. Technical Issues and Technology Literacy
Online therapy relies on technology and internet connectivity…we all know that unfortunately, technology is not always reliable. Poor internet connections, audio or video glitches, and other technical problems can disrupt the therapy session and cause frustration for both the therapist and the client. Not everyone is comfortable with or has access to the necessary technology for online therapy, which can limit its accessibility.
3. Security and Privacy Concerns:
Privacy and confidentiality are critical components of therapy. Online therapy sessions may be vulnerable to privacy breaches, especially if conducted in shared or public spaces. Therapists must ensure the security and privacy of online therapy sessions. However, therapists cannot control the client’s environments which can leave clients vulnerable to a breach of confidentiality if they are not mindful of their surroundings.
4. Ethical and Legal Concerns:
Therapists must navigate ethical and legal issues related to providing therapy across state or national borders, licensing, and maintaining confidentiality within the digital realm, which can hinder the availability of certain services.
Whether online therapy is the right choice for an individual and will be effective depends on their specific needs, preferences, circumstances, and mental health concern that needs to be addressed. It is essential to carefully consider each of these factors when deciding whether to pursue online therapy or in-person therapy.
Wondering which might be the best fit for you? Reach out to us today for a free 15-minute consultation so that one of our counselors can walk you through what online and in-person counseling sessions look like for our practice.