What is Online Therapy?

Posted on Tuesday, November 26th, 2019 at 8:24 pm    

Online therapy is the delivery of professional mental health counseling services through the Internet. Online therapy is also known as web therapy, Internet therapy, distance therapy, and e-therapy. Typically, services are offered via email, video conferencing, text messaging, and real-time chat. While online therapy has its limitations, it has rapidly become an important resource for a mounting number of consumers. Convenience and availability are a few of the reasons as to why a person may choose e-therapy. Accessibility via laptop or desktop computer enable the consumer to receive such services at their leisure. Additionally, the amount of time people spend with their smart phones has led to the increasingly popular option of therapy via mobile apps.

Similar to other types of therapy, e-therapy presents some challenges for its consumers. However, many patients who have utilized e-therapy mental health treatments greatly support it. Statistics have shown that patients receiving mental health treatment via video conferencing have expressed high levels of satisfaction. Online therapy has also been shown to be particularly beneficial to those who live in rural areas, where access to mental health facilities and services may be limited. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) coupled with clinical care has been shown to be efficient in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and illness-related emotional distress. However, results have indicated that patients who used e-therapy rather than the traditional face-to-face CBT had better outcomes.

While online therapy is not everyone’s first choice, often times people actually prefer this approach. Specifically, people who fear expressing their problems in person, or those who are uncomfortable in group settings generally opt for internet-based options. As with any type of service, there are both advantages and disadvantages to online therapy. Often, convenience is stated as one of the greatest benefits, while unpredictable technology and shortage of insurance coverage are potential disadvantages. The price differentiation between in-office therapy and e-therapy is another benefit of e-therapy. The average cost of in-office therapy ranges between $75-$150 per session, while online therapy could be as low as $65 per week, depending on the plan and service chosen. Moreover, the commute to in-person therapy can be inconvenient or difficult. Often times, clients are worried that they may run into someone they know while entering or leaving the office.

Being in the comfort of one’s home can enable a patient to be more open and willing to express their issues. Text message and email based communications allow patients more time to think about and structure their thoughts and responses. Also, many times patients feel uneasy or afraid to cancel on a session that is in-person. Cancelling, rescheduling and changing appointments is much quicker and easier for clients to do so via the internet. There are times when patients are incapable of driving, due to either mental or physical inabilities, which is why online therapy is so helpful to those patients. Although opinions differ in this regard, some patients feel as though online therapy provides greater confidentiality. For safety purposes, people in abusive relationships prefer therapy via the Internet so that they have less of a risk of their partner finding out.

Therapists also receive unique benefits from therapy via the Internet. For example, therapists may receive extended time to formulate thoughts and responses to clients. The ability to instantly send resources to clients via links can be very helpful when a client is in immediate need. Furthermore, by implementing therapy via the Internet allows therapists to travel more freely and frequently. Even without a commute involved, it can still be difficult to schedule sessions, as every person’s schedule is busy and different in its own way. The texting approach to Internet therapy eliminates the need to cancel, reschedule or miss sessions. This approach saves patients and therapists stress, time and money. Although therapy sessions via video chat appear to be quite private, patients often fear of eavesdroppers which hinders their ability to be open. While video chatting is a bit less frightening than actual in-person communication, it does not remove the fear of having to voice your darkest secrets to another person’s face. By eliminating this face-to-face interaction via email or text message, patients are able to make progress more quickly.

Expressing one’s emotions aloud is often a fear many people deal with. By utilizing therapy over text message, people are better able to express themselves in writing rather than speaking. The need to take notes is removed, as both parties can just refer back to previous messages in order to evaluate progress. Additionally, people find themselves texting or using their cell phones regularly, so by incorporating therapy into this “lifestyle” comforts people. It is common for people to keep diaries or journals, which is the equivalent to texting therapy.

Another beneficial aspect of internet therapy is in relation to people with ADHD. Patients with ADHD find it difficult to focus and sit still in one place for too long. By implementing therapy via the internet, these patients are able to continue their daily activities as is, while still receiving the treatment needed on their own schedule. They do not have to worry about being confined to a single room or space, and are free to carry on as they would outside of a therapist’s office. While all therapy consists of confidentiality, some patients believe the anonymity is even greater online. For some, admitting the need for help can be tough, as feelings of humiliation, shame and embarrassment can be overwhelming. The fear of one’s family or friends finding out about the need for therapy can make them resistant to its idea. The ability to get involved anonymously can break the ice and alleviate some stress.

Before deciding if online psychotherapy is for you, it’s important to familiarize oneself with the issues regarding ethics and legality. As online therapy gains momentum, there’s a move to increase its regulation by encouraging online therapists to ensure their patients data is protected. While many online therapists are licensed in the field, others are not and refer to themselves as life coaches. Thus, it is crucial to do prior research on the website you are inquiring to make sure the therapist is credentialed. Online therapy is not for everyone, specifically persons with suicidal thoughts or psychotic symptoms, as it can be difficult to detect and assess such issues using a phone or through a screen. As the stress for confidentiality is extremely important in such situations, it is imperative to think carefully about one’s password before joining. Implementing a strong firewall program will also serve to ensure confidences remain confidential.

Online therapy is making its way into society in a positive and rapid manner. If you or someone you know is struggling with the idea of in-person therapy, research on therapy via the internet may be the call they have been waiting for. Receiving a referral from a friend or family member is the easiest way to find a therapist however, this may not always be possible. There are several networks that can link you to services offered online. Prior to networking, it is important to understand the difference between therapy, coaching and counseling. If such certifications are not exhibited, you can reach out to the network to provide them.

It is important to ask yourself; Do you want the option of being confidential? Do you prefer only texting and messaging? Do you prefer video chatting? Do you prefer switching between the two? It is helpful to know what comforts you most before you agree to a certain client-therapist relationship. You know yourself the best, so it is up to you to choose which course of action will have the most positive impact on your life.

The purpose of therapy is to alleviate one’s problems that put them there in the first place. It is quite counter-productive for a patient to attend therapy for one problem, and leave gaining others. While therapy is meant to be a safe, protected environment, there are times when it is not. The therapist owes a duty to its patients to continue to provide a safe haven where the patient can express his or her true self. It is important for the therapist, at the outset of the relationship, to express to the patient both the advantages and disadvantages of such a relationship. Informed consent is another aspect that the therapist must disclose and explain to the patient prior to forming a confidential relationship.

If you or someone you know has entered into an online therapy relationship, and the therapist is not conducting his or her duties at professionally appropriate standards, it is important to seek advice from trained attorneys who are equipped in this arena. Every day, innocent people fall victim to abuse by therapists, whether it be sexual abuse or negligent omissions on the therapists’ behalf. If you have survived such abuse, it is important to contact a competent and skilled New York sexual abuse law firm. At Hach & Rose, LLP, we will fight back to protect and restore the rights that were wrongly taken from you. A new member to our law firm of compassionate lawyers is Stanley Spero. Mr. Spero is ready to represent his clients’ in all court and administrative proceedings, and to ensure that his clients’ rights are secured and that they have obtained the best possible outcome for their case. Please do not hesitate to contact Hach & Rose, LLP, today at (212) 779-0057 or online. Our compassionate, experienced and caring attorneys will work thoroughly to uncover whether a civil lawsuit can be filed against the perpetrator who is responsible.

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