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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Stone, LMHC

Navigating Online Therapy: A Guide for Clients

Updated: Jun 24

Desktop with laptop showing video session with Rebecca Stone, LMHC-QS
Virtual therapy session, offering convenient online mental health support.

In recent years, online therapy has emerged as a practical and convenient alternative to traditional in-person therapy. With the advancement of technology and the increasing demand for accessible mental health services, online therapy platforms have gained popularity worldwide. But with this surge in popularity comes a critical question: How effective is online therapy?

 

What is Online Therapy?

Online therapy, also known as teletherapy or telehealth, involves receiving mental health support remotely through digital platforms. This can include video calls, phone calls, messaging, or email exchanges with licensed therapists. Online therapy helps to reduce barriers in accessing care by making mental health support more available to those who might otherwise struggle to access it.

 

Is Virtual Therapy Effective?

Determining the effectiveness of any form of therapy involves considering several factors, including client satisfaction, symptom reduction, therapeutic alliance, and long-term outcomes. While traditional face-to-face therapy has a long history of research supporting its efficacy, online therapy is a relatively newer phenomenon, leading to questions about its effectiveness in comparison.

 

Numerous studies have sought to evaluate the effectiveness of online therapy across various mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more. Overall, the findings suggest that online therapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy for many individuals. For example, a 2018 study published in the Journal of Psychological Disorders found that internet-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) was as effective as face-to-face CBT in treating depression.

 

Advantages of Telehealth Counseling

  1. Accessibility: Online therapy eliminates the need to travel to a therapist's office, making it particularly beneficial for individuals living in remote areas, those with mobility issues, those with busy schedules, and more.

  2. Flexibility: Online therapy offers greater flexibility in scheduling sessions, allowing clients to fit therapy into their busy lives more easily.

  3. Comfort: Some individuals may feel more comfortable opening up about their feelings and experiences in an online setting, where they can remain in a familiar and comfortable environment, such as their home.

  4. Convenience: Say goodbye to the hassle of commuting to and from therapy appointments. With online therapy, you can schedule sessions at a time and place that works best for you, whether it's from your home, office, or parked vehicle.

 

Challenges and Considerations with Online Therapy

While online therapy offers numerous benefits, it's not without its challenges and considerations: 

  1. Technological Issues: Poor internet connection or technical glitches can disrupt sessions, affecting the therapeutic process.

  2. Lack of Nonverbal Cues: Communicating through screens, where we typically only see head and shoulders, may diminish the richness of seeing full-body nonverbal cues which potentially impact the therapeutic alliance or client’s progress.

  3. Security and Privacy Concerns: Ensuring the confidentiality of online therapy sessions is paramount. Therapists must offer services through secure platforms, and both the client and therapist must ensure they have confidential spaces where they can each respectively have their sessions.

  4. Treatment Plan & Progress: Having the most appropriate care delivered through the most appropriate method is key to therapeutic progress. While many conditions and treatment modalities are as effective via telehealth as they are in-person, not all mental health conditions or treatments are best suited to be delivered via telehealth.

 

Making the Most of Your Telehealth Sessions

 

  1. Plan for Tech Issues: Be sure to talk with your therapist about backup plans for how you will both handle any technological issues that arise during your sessions. Knowing how you’ll both handle it is essential in ensuring you can reconnect as soon as possible.

  2. Create a Comfortable Space: Designate a quiet, private space where you can fully engage in your therapy sessions without distractions.

  3. Be Open and Honest: Authenticity is key to the therapeutic process. Be open with your therapist about your questions, thoughts, feelings, and experiences, even if it feels uncomfortable at times.

  4. Set Goals: Work with your therapist to establish clear goals for your therapy journey. This will help guide your sessions and measure your progress along the way.

 

Conclusion

 Online therapy has demonstrated its effectiveness in treating a wide range of mental health conditions, offering accessibility, flexibility, and anonymity to those seeking support. While it may not be suitable for everyone or every situation, it serves as a valuable option for therapy and has the potential to expand access to mental health care.

 

In today's fast-paced world, finding time to prioritize mental health can be a challenge. However, with the rise of online therapy, seeking support for your mental well-being has never been more convenient. Whether you're dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, or simply seeking personal growth, online therapy offers a flexible and accessible solution to fit your needs.



If you're ready to get started with Rebecca Stone, LMHC-QS, click here to request your online session and get started!

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