The Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Therapy.
For years, online therapy, or mental health treatment delivered via the internet by a mental health counselor, has been an effective and convenient option. However, in today’s COVID-restricted societies, it has become more of a necessity than an option, necessitating some adjustment on the part of both clients and counselors.
As a psychologist who has worked as a “traditional” face-to-face counselor for over 25 years, I was skeptical at first. Would the client and I be able to communicate properly in cyberspace? What about my ability to read body language during a Zoom meeting? Would I be able to provide adequate emotional support to a client in emotional distress from behind the screen? While the obvious pros murmured unconvincingly in the background, I was leaning into the cons.
My first online session didn’t do much to persuade me otherwise: problems connecting to the internet, inability to turn on the sound, and my discomfort with the new “office” all contributed to a failure. However, things began to flow after a few more sessions. It quickly became a routine, and the client was just as “real” in this setting. I’ve even had clients who tried both face-to-face and online settings before deciding to continue online. Why were the advantages beginning to outweigh the disadvantages?
Privacy: When seeking mental health treatment, most, if not all, clients place a high value on privacy. Online therapy provides more privacy because there is no need to go to an office where one might meet other clients or therapists. This is especially convenient for a client who may leave the office feeling emotional and in need of some alone time.
Time and logistics: There is no time (or cost) lost in transportation, and a session can even be squeezed in during lunch or after work at the office. Even the car can be used as an office on occasion!
Effectiveness: Research has shown, that online therapy can be just as effective in treating mental health issues such as depression, anxiety disorders and mild to moderate addiction.
Accessibility: An online meeting is accessible to anyone with a reliable internet connection. This means that people who live in remote areas, have disabilities, or have children to care for can now easily access treatment.
Convenience: Online therapy, which can be done from the comfort of your own home, often allows you to schedule sessions around your own schedule, as opposed to standard office hours.
Location: There is no place! You can choose your preferred therapist regardless of where they live. Since working in several different countries over the years, I’ve had the privilege of being able to provide continuous therapy to my clients all over the world, despite the fact that we are separated by countries and time zones.