More people have access to quality healthcare thanks to digital technology, opening the door for many people to find and use therapists in different ways. Online therapy allows you to utilize email, live chat, and video conferencing to talk to your therapist without ever leaving your home. This option is more convenient for those who feel more comfortable in their homes or don’t have the resources to make it to their appointments. Throughout the last few years, online therapy has become more popular, mimicking in-person therapy without the hassle of commuting. If you’re considering moving your psychiatric care from an in-person to an online experience, you may wonder if there’s a difference. While you’ll receive quality care no matter which option you choose, there are a few differences between them.
What’s the Difference in Online Therapy?
Online therapy services use licensed mental health professionals, but you receive treatment online rather than in person. This type of therapy allows you to utilize different technologies, including video chats, live chats, and instant messaging, to meet with your therapist and discuss concerns, including medication.
Online therapy may be more cost-effective than in-person therapy because many services are subscription based, giving you an idea of how much you’ll pay every month. Meanwhile, in-person therapy may charge you based on appointments. Therefore, if you have four monthly appointments, you’ll pay for each. In many cases, the subscription model makes it cheaper to get the care you need because you’re only paying once and have access to your care provider throughout the rest of the month.
Unfortunately, some online therapists may not accept insurance, so you may have to pay out of pocket. Luckily, as telemedicine continues to be a popular choice for many, more therapists will begin exploring remote opportunities for their clients. In addition, many insurance companies cover the cost of mental health treatment, so you may have to do some extra research to find the right therapist or mental health services that are covered by insurance.
Using online therapy is more convenient than in-person appointments because you won’t have to spend time commuting or taking time off work to make it to appointments. If you’re comfortable, you can even have your online therapy session in the comfort of your office, so you won’t have to take any time off work or interrupt your regular schedule.
For busy parents, this factor can be life-changing. Online therapy prevents you from needing to arrange for childcare or changing your busy schedule to make it to a half-hour appointment. If you’re always on the go, online therapy might be a better option for you because you won’t feel as pressed for time.
Many people feel more comfortable in a virtual setting because they can have therapy in the comfort of their own homes. You don’t have to worry about running into your nosey neighbor or feeling uncomfortable in a new place when you use online therapy. Instead, you can rest on your own couch or at your desk to get the care you need without the increased anxiety that may arise from going to a therapist’s office.
In addition, online therapy providers must be HIPAA-compliant like in-person providers. Therefore, your privacy is protected, even online. Whatever you discuss in therapy is protected by the law, but you should be careful when choosing a provider, as some platforms may lack privacy safeguards and be susceptible to cyberattacks. When looking for an online provider, ensure the company uses encryption to protect client data. In addition, video conferences must also be HIPAA-compliant, so apps like Skype or FaceTime will not protect your information.
Quality of Care
Online therapy can meet or exceed the quality of care of brick-and-mortar psychological care. Teletherapy is just as effective as in-person therapy for treating a variety of mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression, which may require medications as well as other forms of treatment. Of course, since the quality of care is relatively equal, some individuals may feel more comfortable in an office setting, visiting their therapist in person to build a better relationship.
The quality of care and level of convenience of online therapy providers also makes it easier for individuals to reach out when they need help, decreasing the stigma that continues to affect our society and how we help individuals struggling with mental health issues.
The therapist you work with will be a big factor when deciding between in-person and online therapy. Online therapy allows you to choose a therapist from anywhere in the state; they just have to be licensed in your state. Since you have the choice of working with any licensed therapist in your area, you may have access to more options to help you find the right person to guide you and provide you with quality care. In addition, teletherapy prevents you from being limited in your choices of who to work with, allowing you to find someone you can trust and feel comfortable talking to.
Is Online Therapy Right For You?
While online therapy offers many benefits, it’s not right for everyone. Many people may prefer an in-person experience because it helps them build a relationship with their therapist. However, younger generations prefer to do many things online for convenience and comfort. To hire a therapist, they must be licensed in your state. Therefore, you can’t use any online therapist; instead, they must be licensed to work where you live, even if you will never see them in person.
Neither virtue nor in-person therapy is better than the other because it depends on the person and what they feel most comfortable with. Before choosing a therapist, consider meeting with many to ensure you find the right person for you. Since there is no one-size-fits-all solution when looking for mental health help, the more options you have, the better. When determining whether online therapy is right for you, consider the cost, convenience, and security.
Megan Isola holds a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and a minor in Business Marketing from Cal State University Chico. She enjoys going to concerts, trying new restaurants, and hanging out with friends.