Are you wondering if it's worth giving online counseling a try? It is important to understand the benefits, as well as things to be cautious of, when considering online therapy.
Due to the pandemic, a growing number of people shifted and preferred speaking with a therapist online rather than in the traditional office setting––and the trend is probably here to stay.
However, online is not replacing in-person sessions rather things have evolved to meet the needs of our environment. And that need is flexibility. Online therapy provides additional options to clients.
With technology today and changes within our environment, online therapy provides additional access to reach out and receive help whether that’s on the phone or a computer.
We know there still may be some reservations. For those who are curious, or hesitant, about online counseling, the following are 5 reasons why you should consider it and some other aspect to be aware of before you do. Let's begin!
1. Online Therapy Provides More Options
Due to the pandemic, the demand for therapists has increased though there has been a shortage in therapists who are taking on new clients. Furthermore, in select areas or within less populated locations, there may not be many options to connect to a therapist that is suitable for your needs. This can also place stigmas on mental health counseling.
With recent changes, virtual sessions/teletherapy has allowed us to provide more services to these rural areas. Online therapy increases the opportunity to connect with a therapist within your state rather than just your surrounding area which may be unavailable due to the high demand.
According to Dr. Elias Aboujaoude of Stanford University, this method of delivery can also reach clients with physical, emotional, and other limitations that would otherwise prevent their seeking help.
2. Online Therapy Can Be Convenient
Online therapy provides quick, convenient access to a qualified professional.
Clients at Naya Clinics have expressed that they value online therapy. Why? For starters, it allows them to use technology to connect during their free hours or whenever they need additional support.
We have served a broad range of clients which includes those with intense schedules or with limited time that may not allow them the flexibility to meet in an office.
In addition, due to the pandemic, appointments are often rescheduled at the first sign of possible symptoms surfacing (even if it turns out to be a minor cold). However, online therapy, easily allows you to still prioritize your mental health from the comfort of your own home rather than putting aside your other needs.
Overall, online therapy is a click away whether you are in your office, sitting (not driving) in the car during a break, or even if you cannot find a sitter for your children. There’s no need to worry about traffic or stressing about the next appointment or errand to get to after. It’s as easy as clicking a link and joining the session from wherever you are comfortable.
3. Virtual Therapy Empowers the Individual
When dealing with complex life situations or obstacles, I have noticed that for some clients, the in-office therapy approach can be intimidating. (What? Revealing intimate details to a stranger is intimidating?)
In all seriousness, clients may struggle opening up to a therapist until they get to know them. Likewise, they may experience fear, shame, or a lack of confidence in addressing their issues.
The decision to speak to a therapist online won't make all of that go away. However, for those who are more experienced with using technology, it can feel more comfortable or easier to talk to a therapist online.
This can allow clients the time to develop trust and the rapport to express their inner thoughts and emotions. This ability to set the tone and pace in an environment that doesn't feel so much under a spotlight is empowering. This especially rings true for introverts who tend to internalize at their own pace.
Regardless of personality type, though, virtual therapy is an effective tool for getting one comfortable with self-reflection and the process of therapy itself.
4. Deciding to Speak to a Therapist Online Can Protect Anonymity
As Craig A. Childress, a professor of psychology at Pepperdine University, noted in a piece for the Journal of Medical Internet Research, anonymity can be a bit of a double-edged sword. This especially applies to the field of online therapy.
On one hand, therapists need to do due diligence in ensuring laws are followed with the treatment of minors.On the other, the promise of anonymity can encourage individuals, who otherwise wouldn't seek help, to do so.
Anonymity and the guarantee of it can even push patients to seek more intensive in-patient care. This is particularly true with high-risk mental health conditions. On the counseling end, every precaution is taken to protect client identities.
However, to ensure anonymity, you should follow best practices for staying secure online. That means using the internet, email accounts, or a cellphone that is not shared or viewable by other parties. It also includes protecting usernames, passwords, and other identifying characteristics if you prefer.
5. Matching a Client to a Professional Can be Easier Online
Deciding who is a good candidate to speak to a therapist online isn't always as obvious. A preliminary assessment is an essential part of our services. If a client's situation does not fit with a particular modality or technique, he or she can be referred to another therapist. Unfortunately, suitability cannot always be determined right away.
The benefit of online therapy is that it gives us quick access to patient history and data. This access enables us to quickly determine whether online is the best fit for the client––which can be discussed together.
If it isn't the best fit, it can be easier to get a handle on the best path forward when you are online rather than using the time and resources to meet in-person.
3 Reasons Why Online Therapy May Not Be Recommended
As a therapist––and client––it is important to consider several factors to determine if online counseling is the best for you. There are several benefits of scheduling sessions with a therapist within an office setting. The following are a few of the benefits below:
Individuals suffering from severe depression or mental disorders may not be good candidates for online therapy. These conditions often require medication and closer observation—something for which in-person sessions are better equipped.
Do you have the privacy to speak to a therapist? If you are discussing a sensitive subject but your partner, parents, children, roommates, or boss walks into the room, it may interrupt the therapy process and your ability to truly express yourself.
Technology can be difficult for some to operate or even troubleshoot if there are any issues with WIFI or your computer. This can lead to difficulty getting treatment when you need it most.
The Next Step
Privacy and anonymity often are guiding factors for clients who choose to reach out to us about online therapy. That said, those are not the only reasons. Yes, online therapy helps protect one's identity, but clients also value it because it has helped them adjust to the idea of being in therapy; it's directed them toward the support they need.
Online therapy has allowed for quick and convenient access to reach out and schedule with your therapist without having to consider the commute to the office or having to coordinate schedules as much.
Lastly, teletherapy has helped clients feel in control of what once seemed like an uncontrollable situation.
If you believe the decision to speak to a therapist online is the right one for you, reach out to Naya Clinics to work with a therapist, whether that is through virtual sessions or in person.
A licensed mental health professional or online counselor can assist you in developing an appropriate strategy for moving forward if you feel like you are struggling to connect or strengthen your social support.