Online counseling is a relatively new phenomenon. And the arrival of COVID means that many clients and providers have had to find ways to make telehealth counseling more useful for everyone. More people are turning to online advice for help than ever before.
Online counseling has its drawbacks. But for many people seeking help, online counseling also has a lot of positives. How do you know if online counseling is right for you?
Pros of Online Counseling
Probably the most notable positive about online counseling is the cost. For people without mental health insurance, the lower cost of online counseling can make a huge difference in their access to care.
Second, online counseling is convenient. You can often start immediately, the scheduling is flexible, and you can save time from commuting to and from appointments. All of this seems to also result in fewer cancellations than in face-to-face settings.
Other potential positives include:
- Often more frequent contact with your therapist
- Use of platforms that help you express yourself best (text, video, voice)
- Eliminates fears of running into people you know in the waiting area
- Feeling more comfortable in a familiar setting, enhancing vulnerability and disclosure
Cons of Online Counseling
While online counseling does have many positives, it also has drawbacks.
Some states require that a person using online therapy be in the same state as their licensed therapist. Depending on where you live, this could limit your options in terms of finding an online therapist.
Online counseling is not suitable for people with severe mental health issues who need medication adjustments, intensive inpatient or outpatient services, or need to be monitored closely for changes in their mental status.
Even if you don't have a severe mental health issue, you may be someone who needs face-to-face interaction. If you have social anxiety or depression, going to your therapist and interacting face-to-face may be more beneficial for you.
Other cons of online counseling:
- Technical issues like lousy internet connection, frozen screens, echoing, low-resolution video, and dropped calls are not conducive to an excellent therapeutic experience. Therefore, it is vital to regularly test my speed to see how fast your internet speed is.
- You risk not knowing if your online therapist is credible, reputable, or safe to use. It's essential to do some research and insist on evidence of proper credentials and HIPAA compliance.
- Some forms of therapy are nearly impossible to do online, including:
- Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy
- Art Therapy
- Drama Therapy
- Expressive Arts Therapy
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy [EMDR]
- Music Therapy
- Play Therapy
I hope this helps you decide whether online counseling is right for you. Remember that it's perfectly okay for you to try both and see which one is best suited for your needs.
Are you looking for a reputable online therapist? Check out BetterHelp for unlimited professional counseling via online chat, video, or phone anytime, anywhere.
I'd love to read about your experience with either face-to-face or online counseling. What pros or cons have you found to each?