Research has found that online therapy can be effective in treating anxiety, depression and trauma. There is no difference in patient satisfaction depending on whether the therapy is online or in person, and for either of the two methods of receiving therapy, the results are better as a person attends more sessions. Online therapy can be an effective and convenient way to access mental health services. But that doesn't mean it's right for everyone.
Whether or not online therapy is right for you depends on your condition and the severity of your symptoms. Therapists can offer virtual options directly through their personal practice. Online platforms also provide opportunities for people to connect with therapists within their networks. Virtual therapy seems just as effective as face-to-face therapy in addressing mental health needs.
Meanwhile, consulting psychiatrist Dr. James Arkell, from London's Nightingale Hospital, has noticed that online therapy is tailored to younger people because they find texting and FaceTiming to be familiar territory and you can happily evaluate them via a smartphone. The subsample of participants who completed the 3-month follow-up measurement (N %3D 320) did not differ significantly in any demographic variable or in their attitudes and views on the effectiveness of online therapy from therapists who only provided baseline data. Confidentiality is as important in online therapy as it is in more traditional forms of treatment administration.
Initially, all four types of challenges were associated with lower perceived quality of the therapeutic relationship (work-real relationship) and more negative attitudes towards online therapy and its effectiveness. Future studies could benefit from a 360-degree perspective on online therapy experiences, including the views of patients and clinical supervisors. In fact, people often tell me that their online experience has been more satisfying than their previous in-person therapy. If you have reliable access to the Internet, online therapy gives you relatively quick and easy access to a treatment that would otherwise not have been available to you.
Only perceived challenges with emotional connection (but not the other three categories of challenges) remained associated with more negative attitudes toward online therapy and its effectiveness. One of the biggest concerns of online therapy is that therapists do not have the opportunity to observe the patient, something that is usually an integral part of an evaluation and diagnosis. In addition, the survey responses on therapist challenges and the perceived effectiveness of online therapy were unique elements that, although based on theory and clinical writing, were not part of the standardized measures. Hosted by editor-in-chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares the pros and cons of online therapy.
The challenges experienced by patients during this forced transition to online therapy are therefore undoubtedly the most important. Finally, as a consumer, in some cases it can be difficult to know if an online therapy service is credible, reliable or safe to use. The concern about being able to connect with patients was the most impactful, as it predicted negative attitudes towards online therapy and its perceived effectiveness over time. Online therapy removes geographical restrictions, making it difficult to enforce legal and ethical codes.