We have all seen ads on Facebook and other social media websites where people are seen seeking online therapy services and sharing their positive feedback. People can look up for therapists online by signing up on online therapy websites or similar applications.
Therapists can conduct online therapy sessions with their patients using audio and video calls. Some people also prefer to get in touch with their therapist through text messages.
As the world has started relying on the internet, online therapy has become a new talk of the town especially in these hard times of global pandemic where people are practising strict social-distancing measures in order to contain the virus.
So, is online therapy really effective as it is advertised on a social media platform and online forums?
Let’s find out:
- Online therapy can miss body language
In most cases, online therapists are unable to see the facial expression for their client. They cannot see the emotional cues and understand the body language of their clients.
It’s hard to figure out the real emotions of the person who just signed up for an online therapy session and is using text messages to discuss his trauma.
This lack of physical appearance where your therapist may not have a true demonstration of your emotions, moods, and feelings could have the potential to limit therapeutic progress.
So, we would recommend that a therapist see and listen to the client through voice chat and video calls, to foster the intimacy that the real-world interaction offers. Still, this is one area where online therapy is so helpful. It can be done from the privacy of the client’s home and they can set the schedule.
- Online therapists have a slightly limited ability to intervene in crises.
Online therapists execute their sessions from all over the world, so in the event of some crisis situation, they cannot respond to you in time. For example, if the patient is having suicidal thoughts or has undergone some personal tragedy, an online therapist might not provide direct assistance to his client.
On the other hand, your local therapist can show up at your home and offer you the help in times of some crisis situation.
If you are in a crisis or any other person may be in danger – don’t use a website. These resources can provide you with immediate help.
- The scope of online therapy is limited and may require in-person therapy.
Although, online therapy can be useful in fighting the depression that is common during the worldwide pandemic, some situations where people need direct intervention cannot be addressed via online therapy.
For instance, if the client has some chronic psychiatric illness or some complicated mental problem, online therapy is not recommended at all. Online therapy works best when people need somewhat minor treatment for less-complicated psychosis.
A legitimate site will advise you to have access to emergency resources if there’s an urgent mental health matter. If you are in a crisis or any other person may be in danger – don’t use a website.
- Technology can be unreliable
Consider the scenario, in which you are talking to your therapist via video call and suddenly the call gets disconnected or the video screen freezes while you were in the middle of some important conversation about your life.
With online therapy, there may be technological barriers like disconnected calls, internet connectivity issues from both sides, and a lack of understanding of digital tools.
On top of that, some have had concerns about confidentiality in therapy sessions, because the conversation between client and therapist is happening online.
Be sure that your online site safeguards the privacy and verification of counselors, is HIPAA compliant, has grade A banking encryption, and ensures counselors are thoroughly vetted and verified.
In 2020, everything went online. Here is more information about using technology in therapy and counseling:
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Andersson G, Cuijpers P. Pros and cons of online cognitive–behavioral therapy. The British Journal of Psychiatry. 2008 Oct;193(4):270-1.
Ruwaard J, Lange A, Schrieken B, Dolan CV, Emmelkamp P. The effectiveness of online cognitive behavioral treatment in routine clinical practice. PLoS One. 2012 Jul 5;7(7):e40089.
Andersson G. Using the Internet to provide cognitive behavior therapy. Behavior research and therapy. 2009 Mar 1;47(3):175-80.
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional.