Research shows that there is a growing number of online counseling services. People going through depression, trauma, or anxiety can find counselors online to help them deal with the situation that they are experiencing. There is not much difference between online therapy and face-to-face therapy since the effectiveness of both counseling methods depends on the number of sessions and approaches that the counselors take. Before you opt for online counseling or any form of telepsychology, you should consider the following factors.
What to consider when choosing online counseling services
Different counseling needs require different approaches and methods. Some situations may require in-person therapy, while for others, online therapy will work perfectly. Below are things to consider before choosing online counseling therapy.
- Your online therapy needs
Online therapy is effective in treating anxiety, stress, and depression. Research also shows that it is effective in treating addiction, panic disorders, and diabetes management. But most people opt for online therapy because it is convenient and ideal for people who are uncomfortable meeting counselors face to face.
- Online therapy is a secure platform and has a high level of confidentiality
Before you sign up for online therapy services at any online platform, you should do background checks to ensure it is HIPAA compliant. There should be a way to verify your identity and that of the counselor too. Through online counseling sessions, you will be sharing personal experiences, thoughts, and emotions that should remain confidential.
- Credentials, licensing, and experience of online therapists
State licensing of an online therapist protects you against any issues you may have regarding treatment. A counselor should attain professional training and licenses to offer effective counseling therapy. You may find out such information through a search on online directories for licensed therapists in your state.
- Means of payment
Mental health therapy can be costly, and most people pay through insurance. In some cases, insurance companies do not accept claims for online counseling services. It is good to check with your insurance company if they reimburse online counseling costs.
Benefits of online counseling services
- Comfortable means of communication for people shy about expressing themselves face-to-face
- Accessibility and is ideal for people who can’t move around due to chronic illnesses or disabilities.
What makes online counseling services effective?
- High standards of accountability
Even without supervision, the online therapists know that records of their treatment approach and information are available from the chats, videos, and verbal communication with the clients. Therapy sessions records, duration, and all information about such counseling session retrieval are possible. That makes online counselors more responsible and effective in delivering the service.
- Promotes self-awareness and online communication methods are also therapeutic
Writing is an effective method of venting challenges one may be facing. It enhances self–disclosure, and one is more expressive and honest when they write down their experiences, feelings, and challenges than through face-to-face conversations.
- Reduces power discrepancy between client and therapists
Some therapists are judgmental and may rush to conclusions and treatment options for clients before hearing them out first. Clients have unique needs that most therapists ignore due to their inexperience and lack of proper training. But through online therapy, a client has the power to reach out to therapists, express their concerns and situations uniquely, and let the therapist give custom help regarding their needs. It is the best counseling approach for clients who have tried traditional counseling methods and failed.
- Anonymity helps reduce stigmatization
Mental health patients are subject to stigma, and many may shy away from seeking help. Those dealing with shame or fear of judgment due to their addiction, trauma, or past experiences will benefit most from online counseling sessions due to the anonymity of such sessions. Disclosure of some thoughts face-to-face may be embarrassing, and most people may shy away from being honest and sincere regarding such behaviors. But the same does not apply to online counseling sessions, and that makes treatment more effective. Clients disclose all relevant information that is crucial for treatment, and that helps in proper treatment prescription.
Limitations of online therapy
Though technology has made it possible for people to access online therapy, it may not be the best option for people with severe depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar conditions. Financial challenges when insurance coverage is not possible, lack of nonverbal communication crucial in treating mental health, and complications with confidentiality due to technical issues limits online counseling services.
Many people are embracing digital trends in assessing health care, and online counseling services are gaining popularity. You may receive help through online therapy, and it is just as effective as an in-person counseling service.