“Is Online Therapy effective?”
That’s the first question both therapists and clients ask when they hear about the idea of doing therapy over the internet.
The concept is simple, meeting with your Therapist online means using video conferencing, audio conferencing, instant messaging, email or even text messages.
The big question is – does it work?
The answer to that is simple. For most people, meeting with their therapist in person or using video conferencing is nearly interchangeable. That’s not to say that there are certain cases in which a therapist might think it is better for the client to meet in person.
Whether you are in person or on a video conference, the result is mostly the same. The therapist can see the client’s facial expressions, observe their body language and hear their words. So “Online Therapy” that utilizes video conferencing is essentially the same service that an in-person session provides.
Using computer audio is essentially same as a phone call. For those therapists that offer phone sessions, using computer audio is an equivalent substitution
Instant messaging or “Chat Therapy” can be a very useful tool for some clients with certain issues. For example, clients that feel shame about an issue, or are better at expressing themselves in writing that verbally, can benefit from “Chat”. Text messaging could be used with very similar results.
Email Therapy is a little different in that it isn’t “live”. Email Therapy may be a better fit for someone transitioning into therapy. It can also help within the context of “live” therapy, by bridging the gap between sessions.
So, Online Therapy is mainly a way of accessing therapy. It isn’t a new kind of therapy. All the same methods that therapists use in their “brick and mortar” practices are usable online.
Yes, Online Therapy can be effective, because it basically can be the same.
Noteworthy, it can also improve access to therapy. People living in rural areas, or who are homebound, have a disability that hinders going out, or simply don’t want to take the extra time to drive to and from a physical office benefit greatly by having Online Therapy as an option.
Online Therapy can bridge the physical gap between someone needing help and a therapist who can help them. Although there may be some people who are better served in person, Online Therapy is certainly another tool in therapists’ toolboxes to more effectively help their clients.