Online Therapy: Pros and Cons

We use apps for everything from scheduling appointments and booking flights to keeping in touch with friends and family and requesting Uber rides. So why not revolutionize psychotherapy?

As helpful as traditional therapy might be, there is a new breed of therapy in town and it is here to stay. There are more than 100,000 health apps in the Google Play and iTunes stores and plenty of them are specifically focused on mental health.

Researchers are just beginning to analyse whether or not online therapy is actually effective, but this does not stop thousands of people from using online therapy websites that connect clients with licensed professionals in an array of specialties.

Companies such as Talkspace and BetterHelp are revolutionizing therapy because they appeal to busy people who don’t want to commit to a weekly face-to-face session or don’t feel comfortable having a face-to-face conversation with a mental health professional.

According to Nicole Amesbury, licensed mental health counsellor with Talkspace, “in face-to-face therapy, some people talk to fill the time,” but in online therapy, they respond at their leisure, Fox News reports.

One study published in The New School for Social Research found that people give more honest answers to sensitive questions via text than phone interviews because they are not obligated to answer immediately.

Plus, social media has its perks; the veil it puts between the two interlocutors helps the ‘patient’ pour his heart out to the mental health professional without the fear of being judged.

Online Therapy
Online Therapy

Research has shown that people who engage in meaningful writing [such as journaling] report reduced anxiety and increased well-being.

However, online therapy cannot actually help people with a mental illness such as bipolar disorder or who want to take antidepressants but can prevent it and help people to realize that their problem is bigger than it was expected.

There is also the privacy issue, especially with all the hacking scandals which prove that virtually nothing connected to the Internet is 100 percent safe. Well, about this statement there is not much to say, once something posted on the internet, forever is on the internet. There is not such a thing as 100 percent of safety, especially not on the internet.

Internet (in)safety
Internet (in)safety

The Atlantic cited Christy Leaver, licensed clinical social worker, as saying that clients and clinicians must understand that good hacker can access anything online no matter the industry.

According to Joyce Marter, president of the Illinois Mental-Health Counsellors Association, some essential aspects of counselling are lost when the sessions are not conducted face-to-face, The Atlantic notes.

Therapy is “an interpersonal process,” so the non-verbal communication is as important as the discussion itself because it helps the counsellor make a correlation between clients’ stories and their body language.

Online therapy
Online therapy

There are a lot of risks that go hand in hand with online therapy and privacy or quality issues are just a couple of reasons which should convince people to think well before choosing this path. But on the other side, there are a lot of positive reasons why online therapy is working better than “face to face” one. The first and the most convincing one to consider online therapy is the pandemic situation.

If you think that online therapy is running out of your budget, you can consider attending group therapy which is cheaper than usual therapy.

However, the silver lining of online therapy is its ability to give people access to care. Therapy still bears a social stigma, so receiving care via an app or online may be the perfect solution for people who are torn between asking for help and burying their pain deep into their souls.

Photos: Shutterstock

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