Therapy is incredibly important for absolutely anyone’s health. Visiting a therapist can help you deal with difficult emotions, overcome addictions, connect with family and friends, and strengthen your mental health.
However, visiting a therapist can be expensive, time consuming, and difficult depending on your needs. Fortunately, there’s a new solution that’s quickly becoming popular: online therapy.
What Is Online Therapy?
Online therapy is essentially the same as traditional therapy, but with one big difference: it’s done entirely online via video conferencing, email, chat, or internet phone calls.
Also called e-therapy or cyber counseling, online therapy takes real therapists and patients and connects them digitally. Instead of scheduling an in-person appointment, you’ll meet online, getting your therapist’s advice and support over the internet.
And online therapy is making it easier than ever to meet with a therapist. When you need your therapist’s help, you can simply text, email, or message them.
Before you decide to give online therapy a try, here are three questions you need to consider.
1. Does Online Therapy Offer What You Need?
Turning to the internet for your therapy needs can be incredibly convenient, especially if you’re comfortable using the internet.
Online therapy is a great alternative – and it can be especially beneficial for patients who want to be able to reach their therapist more easily. But before you can determine if this easy solution is right for you, it’s important to find out if online therapy offers services in line with what you need.
Online therapy is more readily available than traditional therapy. As the American Psychological Association (APA)¹ notes, online therapy doesn’t require you to schedule an appointment, rearrange your work or transportation, or find a local office – instead, you can email, instant message, or chat with your therapist in real time, without even scheduling an appointment. When you’re ready to meet face to face, a video call or conference will make it easy to see your therapist and chat just like you’re sitting in their office.
2. Is Online Therapy Effective?
Another important question to ask before signing up for online therapy is if this form of therapy is as effective as traditional therapy.
Fortunately, the answer to this question is yes. As Very Well Mind² explains, online therapy is effective – and though its effectiveness varies from person to person and situation to situation, it’s particularly effective for those who aren’t comfortable with face-to-face therapy.
Online therapy provides a private place to speak with your therapist, and unlike traditional therapy, no one else knows that you’re meeting with them. You can also use aspects of online therapy like instant messaging or online chatting if you’re uncomfortable about meeting with a therapist, making it an excellent choice for some.
Some mental health conditions also respond well to online therapy. According to the APA³, online therapy has been found effective for the following:
- Anxiety and stress
- Panic disorder
- Diabetes management
- Smoking cessation
3. Can You Choose Your Own Therapist?
Once you’ve decided online therapy is a good option for you and your health, there’s one more question to ask: can you choose your therapist? Every online platform is different, but there are plenty of important reasons you’ll want to be able to vet and choose the therapist you meet with.
Therapy is very personal, even when it’s done online. That’s why it’s important to know exactly who you’ll be speaking with and what their background is.
And when it comes to online therapy, the rules are a little different. According to Very Well Mind⁴, online therapy is more difficult to regulate because therapists can work from absolutely anywhere. So, while you know that an in-person therapist is licensed and qualified to practice in your state, your online therapist might not be. And it may be tricky to determine just what kinds of psychologists practice on different online platforms.
To make sure your online therapist is qualified and a great therapist, look for the following before choosing an online option:
- Are all of the therapists licensed?
- Is my psychologist licensed in the state they’re practicing in?
- Can I see therapists’ credentials or easily find them online?
- How many years has my therapist been practicing?
All of this information should be easy to find or be provided by the online therapy network, app, or platform.
Online therapy can be a fantastic – and easy – option for anyone looking for a qualified, caring therapist. And it can be effective, too. But in order to find the right online therapy option, you’ll want to take the time to ask questions and search online, doing your research before settling on the therapist you’ll use.