If you’ve been looking into therapy, you’ve undoubtedly come across articles extolling (or panning) the new trend of online therapy. Online therapy, also known as teletherapy, e-counseling, and other similar monikers, refers to a type of therapy in which you communicate with your counselor or therapist exclusively online (or over the telephone, in some cases).
Instead of lounging on a couch while facing down a bespectacled doctor with notepad in hand, you can email, message, video chat, or phone in your sessions. Some sessions occur in real-time; others include exchanges of messages at your and the doctor’s leisure.
At the very least, it sounds convenient—but is it “real” therapy?
Studies Say Yes
At least, in part. Of course, different clients have very different needs. But for many specific types of therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy, extensive studies have shown online therapy to be just as effective as the face-to-face version. The same goes for PTSD treatment.
This is especially good news because, for many people, the primary obstacle standing between themselves and effective treatment is actually going to a therapist’s office. This may be due to the nature of their illnesses or challenges. It may be due to cost, or to geography, or an inability to travel. But in any case, online therapy offers them hope.
That means that not only is online therapy equally effective in many cases, for some who require therapy, it is the only effective therapy.
One in five Americans are expected to experience a mental health event or condition—yearly. It’s important that we explore different ways to deliver support and mental health care, and online therapy appears to be one of the most promising new avenues in this regard.
Finding the Right Online Therapist
Just because online therapy has been found to be as effective as traditional therapy for some patients doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its pitfalls, of course. Just as many clients have trouble finding the right traditional therapist, one that they “click” with, whose therapy style helps them, the same can be true when it comes to online therapy.
Know that when you’re looking for an online therapy service, that you might have to dig in to do a little research before you find the right fit. There are many different types of therapists with many different types of qualifications. If you’re looking for someone with doctoral certification, for example, or long-term experience with a certain condition, or someone with the same religious beliefs (or lack thereof), take your time and learn about the various services available.
There’s almost certainly going to be a good fit out there for you, and because online therapy is the real deal, you probably won’t even have to leave home to find it. That’s another one of the great things about online therapy. You’re not restricted to therapists within your region. So if you haven’t been able to find someone locally that can help you, check online. Maybe your perfect therapist is in Seattle or Miami—just an email away.