what is online therapy

What is Online Therapy?

Online therapy, also called distance therapy, is an alternative means of seeking counseling. Rather than visiting a psychologist or counselor in office, the patient can talk to a professional from the comfort of their own home. Patients can choose from a variety of communication mediums, depending on the company chosen.  Here’s a look at how online therapy works and what you can expect from it. 

Online Therapy vs. Face-to-Face Counseling 

Distance therapy can take place via video chat, audio messaging, instant messaging (online chatting), and even text messaging. Depending on which medium you choose, online therapy can offer a lot of benefits over face-to-face therapy -- although that isn't to say there aren’t several benefits of choosing face-to-face counseling as well. Internet therapy is particularly beneficial for patients from small towns or rural areas that simply don’t have counseling services widely available. Online counseling is better in this case because no matter how far off the grid you live, you still have access to an ample supply of licensed therapist. 
Additionally, options like text messaging and phone calling where you don’t have to look someone in the eyes can make it easier to share secrets or overwhelming feelings. Additionally, it’s a means of keeping track of what both patient and therapist have said, and it is easier to maintain your privacy. Even video chatting can be more comfortable for some patients. This option can also be easier when trying to find the time to schedule a session for those who have busy schedules. Some counselors offer both face-to-face and distance therapy, which can be a great compromise for those with hectic lives. 

Costs of Online Therapy

Many patients choose online therapy because it appears more cost effective. This may or may not be the case, depending on the service. Some sites and apps charge a monthly fee. The cost of therapy will also vary depending on which medium you choose. For example, email therapy can cost between $25-$125 per exchange. Video, voice, or text chatting is generally charged by the minute, which can wind up being between $100-$250 an hour. Depending on your health insurance, specific services from certain places may be covered, although it's important to check with your provider before starting counseling if you're expecting the services to be paid for.  

Always Check Credentials

One of the most important aspects of online therapy sites and apps is finding a place with ethical, licensed professionals. In person or online, counselors have an ethical code that must be followed to provide effective treatment and keep patients safe. The relationship must be therapeutic in person and online. Your therapist should keep careful records while also protecting your confidentiality. Perhaps most importantly, any credentials a counselor claims to have must be accurate, and they must be honest about the services and help they can provide.  

Why More Patients are Choosing Online Therapy

Despite the ethical concerns that accompanied online therapy originally, a plethora of positive studies have led the psychological community to conclude distance therapy can be just as effective as face-to-face counseling. Addiction counseling, for example, can work very well online, particularly for patients who are avoiding group sessions because they're concerned about privacy. It's important to note, however, that online therapy sessions aren't appropriate for every patient or every situation. If you're seeking counseling, it’s important to consider your options, and choose what will be most effective for you. 
Last Updated: October 03, 2017