Because there is a need!
These days professional discussions about psychotherapy often come around to the same topic — online therapy (or e-therapy; internet therapy, cyber therapy, telehealth therapy, etc.). These discussions often get stuck when it comes to the following questions: Is Online Therapy good? Can you really do psychotherapy online? If so, what are the advantages and disadvantages to such a modality of therapy?
The reality is that (although some are struggling with these questions) Online Therapy (Counseling) is already being conducted online. There may hundreds of providers of online mental health services today — even if they call it different names. What you call these online services is really a minor matter of semantics. Online therapy, e-therapy, online psychotherapy, telehealth services, online counseling are just different words for the same reality. And some of these providers have been doing this type of counseling for many years.
These providers are online because there is a demand for their services. After all, setting up a Web site and setting aside the time to administer this type of service takes effort and is time consuming. It takes a fair amount of commitment and of understanding of the online world. So most of these providers are not “fly-by-night” operations. On the contrary, most providers are simply therapists who already practice therapy services in a face-to-face situation. However, they also saw the need to offer similar services online. Being somewhat familiar with the online world, they expanded their service by developing an online service.
Most professionals who argue against Online Therapy do so for basically one reason — the idea that psychotherapy and everything it encompasses simply cannot be done in the same manner as it is done in the real world.
But this argument has a problem in itself. It presuppose that face-to-face and Online Therapy is the same thing. While it may be in fact two modes different of therapy that have both similarities and differences. And that each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Rather than compare these two modes of therapy, it might be better to seek to understand the advantages of each. And int his case in particular the advantages of Online Therapy.
Let’s examine some of the advantages and disadvantages to e-therapy:
The Advantages of Online Therapy
When professionals talk about Online Therapy,those who are in the know would always point to the following advantages:
1. Online Therapy Creates an Increased Perception of Anonymity
This is one of the strongest and most influential factors contributing to the popularity of online counseling. Whether people really are more anonymous online is of little consequence. It is the perception of anonimity that make sthe difference.
Fact is: people believe they are more anonymous and therefore respond and behave differently online. As a result it feels easier to discuss more important, personal issues in a therapeutic relationship online. And do it much more quickly than they would in real face-to-face therapy.
It therefore might often happen that a person would discuss issues of extreme importance to them (childhood abuse, feelings of guilt about a loved one’s death, sexual abuse, chronic pain and ways of dealing with it, suicidal ideation, suicidal behaviors, self-mutilating behaviors, etc.) having never had any previous interaction with the Online Therapist. In addition, some of these individuals will go on to tell the therapist that they felt more comfortable talking in an online environment, and hadn’t even told their current therapist or clinician about this issue of importance to them!
This is a very powerful effect. And because of this factor, the therapeutic relationship is equally as strong and effective in online therapy as it is in real-life therapy.
2. Ease of Contact during Online Therapy
It is easier, in some cases much easier, to contact your online therapist through the added channels of communication (i.e. e-mail, whatsapp, etc) – and get a quick response – than if you call a psychologist or psychiatrist in real-life to ask a general question. This varies, but ideally, an online therapist could respond to an e-mail or chat request immediately if he or she did that full-time.
3. Access to an Expert Opinion Through Online Therapy
Since the online world knows no geographical boundaries, finding an expert to treat you or to offer a second opinion on a diagnosis is potentially much easier. Even if you live thousands of kilometers apart, it is no problem if the interactions are conducted online.
4. The Cost of Online Therapy
Online Therapy is usually less expensive than real-life therapy.
Though there are other advantages, these are some of the top advantages in the minds of consumers.
That’s why they are looking more and more on the internet to find an Online Therapist.
And that is why Online Therapy is growing exponentially in popularity.