Are you considering online therapy? The internet has opened up new avenues for mental health treatment, but there are some pros and cons that you should consider before you decide if e-therapy is right for you. Let’s explore some of the biggest advantages and disadvantages of online therapy.
Advantages of Online Therapy
1. A Good Option for Remote Areas
Online therapy offers access to mental health information to people in rural or remote areas.
Those who live in such areas simply might not have access to any other form of mental health treatment because there are no mental health practices in their geographic area. E-therapy gives these individuals access to treatment that they might not have otherwise.
2. Accessibility for Those With Physical Limitations
Online therapy provides accessibility to individuals who are disabled or housebound. Mobility can be a big issue when it comes to accessing mental health care. Individuals who are unable to leave their home for various reasons, such as physical or mental illness, may find online therapy a useful alternative to traditional psychotherapy settings.
3. Convenience and Affordability
Online therapy is usually fairly affordable and convenient. Since you will be attending therapy sessions online in the comfort of your own home, you can often schedule your therapy sessions for times that are the most convenient for you.
Today, many states require insurance providers to cover online therapy just as they would traditional therapy sessions. Contact your insurance company to learn more about e-therapy treatments will be covered by your policy. Online therapists often offer affordable treatment options for those who are not covered by health insurance.
4. Online Therapy Makes Information More Accessible
The Internet makes mental health information more accessible. People may feel comfortable talking to friends and family about health care issues but may not feel the same discussing mental health concerns.
5. It Can Also Be an Educational Tool
E-therapy can be an important tool to help people learn more about psychological health. Even if you feel like your mental well-being is strong, online therapy can help you become psychologically stronger. You can learn more about health behaviors and coping strategies that will lead to better psychological health.
Disadvantages of Online Therapy
1. Some Insurance Companies Will Not Cover E-Therapy
Insurance coverage for e-therapy can depend upon the state where you live and the insurance that you have. Some insurance policies do not cover online therapy. Paying for psychotherapy services out-of-pocket can add up quickly.
2. Some States Do Not Allow Out-of-State Providers
Many states do not allow out-of-state psychologists to provide services. In such cases, you provider would need to be licensed in both their home state as well as your home state.
In an article for the Monitor on Psychology, Deborah Baker, a legal expert for the American Psychological Association, explained that some states allow psychologists to provide out-of-state mental health services for a limited amount of time.
This usually consists of just 10 to 30 days per year.
However, psychologists can practice online therapy with clients in their own state, which can be a great option for those who live at a distance, are housebound, or who need access to convenient treatment options.
3. Concerns About Confidentiality, Privacy, and Unreliable Technology
Keeping your personal information private is a major concern in psychotherapy, but online treatment adds a layer of complexity. Confidentiality is just as important in online therapy as it is in more traditional forms of treatment delivery. Since information is being transmitted online, it makes privacy leaks and hacks more of a concern.
Technology problems can also make it difficult to access treatment when you really need it.
4. Online Therapists Cannot Respond to Crisis Situations
Since online therapists are distant from the client, it is difficult to respond quickly and effectively when a crisis happens. If a client is experiencing suicidal thoughts or has suffered a personal tragedy, it can be difficult or even impossible for the therapist to provide direct assistance.
5. Online Therapy is Not Appropriate for Those with Serious Psychiatric Illnesses
E-therapy can be useful for a variety of situations, but not when it comes to more serious psychiatric illnesses that require close and direct treatment. It is also not appropriate for people with complicated or detailed problems. The scope of-therapy tends to be limited, so it is rarely effective in more complex situations.
6. Online Therapy Sometimes Lacks Important Information
In many cases, online therapists cannot see facial expressions, vocal signals, or body language. These signals can often be quite telling and give the therapist a clearer picture of your feelings, thoughts, moods, and behaviors. Some delivery methods such as voice-over-Internet technology and video chats can provide a clearer picture of the situation, but they often lack the intimacy and intricacy that real-world interactions possess.
7. Ethical and Legal Concerns Pose Potential Problems
Online therapy eliminates geographic restraints, making the enforcement of legal and ethical codes difficult. Therapists can treat clients from anywhere in the world, and many states have different licensing requirements and treatment guidelines. It is important to understand your therapist's qualifications and experience before you begin the treatment process.
More About Online Therapy
- 9 Observations About the Practice and Process of Online Therapy
Gregory Mulhauser of CounselingResource.com explores some of the major aspects of online therapy in this paper based observations of actual online counseling and therapy.
- How Much Online Therapy Really Goes On?
This great article from Gregory Mulhauser of CounselingResource.com looks at the ethical challenges posed by therapists and their experience with online therapy.
- Emailing Your Doctor or Therapist
Learn more about some of the issues surrounding the use of e-mail communications between therapists and clients, from your About Guide to Mental Health Resources.
DeAngelis, T. (2012). Practice distance therapy, legally and ethically. Monitor on Psychology, 43(3), 52. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/03/virtual.aspx.
Hoffman, J. (2011, Sept. 23). When your therapist is only a click away. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/fashion/therapists-are-seeing-patients-online.html.