Updated: Nov 3
Online therapy, defined as mental health services received through an online video communication platform such as Zoom, actually traces back as far as 1986. Yet is wasn't until many years later that its prevalence expanded with the ushering in of the technology era. Now, in 2020, teletherapy is more accessible than ever before. The multi-million dollar therapy industry is now taking on additional growth via the Internet, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Throw in a national pandemic like COVID-19 and you've got thousands of people turning to online counseling services as an alternative. This has spurred exponential growth in the teletherapy industry and therapists are competing more than ever to adapt to the change.
Perhaps you're one of those people who isn't able to see your normal therapist due to Coronavirus, or you're someone curious as to whether online therapy could really help you. If so, this article is written just for you. Here's the breakdown of the key advantages of teletherapy and what you need to know about it. Let's start with the benefits.
Benefits of Online Therapy
It Really Works.
Teletherapy critics have claimed that online therapy services are not as effective as traditional, face-to-face counseling sessions. They typically back this critique with the observation that online communication, even with good internet connection, inherently skews body language such as facial expressions that are useful for nonverbal communication, and they would be correct in this assumption.
Yet, despite the occasional social cue that is lost in translation, online therapy is no less effective. Many studies show that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (a commonly used psychotherapy strategy) received through internet communication is just as efficacious as traditional therapy for treating common mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Sure, there are some therapeutic strategies that cannot be sufficiently delivered over the internet, such as EMDR therapy which can requires physical touch. But, by and large, online counseling has proven to be beneficial for most people. Moreover, the idea that online counseling is any less effective than in-person counseling simply isn't backed by the data.
In some cases, online therapy has yielded faster results than in-person therapy. Dr. John Grohol notes in his experience that since online communication gives a sense of increased anonymity, people are quicker to open up about the personal issues in their lives. Trust is foundational to the success of therapy, and it seems that for some people the comfort of being behind a screen can remove barriers to openness that would otherwise slow down traditional therapy.
The price of mental health services has always been a common deterrent to seeking therapy. Face-to-face counseling services require the therapist to rent or lease a building, increasing their overhead costs which must be made up for in the prices they charge for therapy sessions. With online therapy, however, overhead is minimal, and therapists can charge a more affordable price.
On a separate (but important) side note, don't let price dictate the condition of your mental health. Seeking counseling, be it online or in-person, is an investment in yourself, your well-being, and your future. Finding the right therapist for you can be life-changing, an invaluable tradeoff for the price they may charge.
It Gives You More Options.
With online therapy, you're no longer limited to the therapists located in the surrounding areas. Instead, you can access therapists statewide, or sometimes even nationwide. This gives you the ability to be choosier in your therapist selection, a luxury people didn't have before e-therapy without having to travel great distances just to see the therapist they liked.
Additionally, you can still attend online counseling even if you're bedridden, sick, or quarantined. With the government encouraging people to stay home during COVID-19, there couldn't be a more appropriate time to consider online therapy for combatting anxiety and depression.
Okay, that's great, but I don't have a mental health issue.
You don't need to have a mental health issue to benefit from online therapy. Therapists can help you turn a good situation or relationship in your life to a great one. They are a good source of objectivity, providing a non-biased perspective that can help you navigate big or small life decisions.
Most people have someone they talk to about their personal problems and from whom they seek consolation. It could be a parent, sibling, friend, or really anyone they trust. In such conversations, you are receiving counseling from the trusted person in one form or another. Perhaps people don't think of it this way, but these people are strong influences to your mental health. Who better to receive emotional support and sound, objective advice for your life than a professional trained therapist?
Will my insurance cover my online therapy costs?
This question couldn't be more relevant during the current flurry of policy changes spurred by the Coronavirus. The short answer is that it depends on your provider. Some will cover it entirely, while others won't at all. You'll need to talk with your insurance company to see whether you're covered or not.
While your policy may or may not cover you, one thing is certain: insurance companies are always competing with each other to offer the best policies for you. With so many people seeking online counseling services now, insurance companies will need to adapt to this change in behavior to stay competitive. Therapists, too, are adapting to the change by offering competitive sliding scale pricing options for people that can only pay out of pocket. You can read more about online therapy insurance coverage here.
Is there anything I need to do to prepare for online therapy?
You won't need to prepare for online therapy any differently than you would a traditional therapy session (other than ensuring you have good internet connection). The same prerequisites for a successful online therapy session are the same as in person therapy, so don't treat it any differently. The need for trust, open communication, and motivation with your therapist is the same. Enter your virtual therapy sessions with a determined mindset, motivated for change.
Online Counseling in Kentucky
If you're a Kentucky resident and you're ready to speak with an online counselor, your next step is as simple as clicking the Schedule Now button below this article. The first consultation is free, so take advantage of the opportunity to see if we are a good fit for you! We are happy to answer any questions you may have. Or, if you have additional questions you want answered, just click the Contact Us button to ask away.
Learn more about Fuller Life Counseling Partner's therapists here.