Online therapy is a relatively new phenomenon in the world of mental health, one that promises greater accessibility, convenience, and affordability. But how effective is online therapy compared to traditional therapy? And what are the main differences? In this article, we answer these questions and provide some helpful tips on choosing the best online therapy platform for you.
Online therapy allows individuals to connect with licensed therapists through an online platform, accessible via computer, smartphone, or tablet. It adopts many of the same approaches as in-person therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), traditional psychotherapy, and holistic therapy. The main difference is that, rather than sitting in a room with a therapist, your sessions happen via text or voice messages or live voice or video calls.
The best online counseling apps offer a few advantages over traditional therapy. As a general rule, they’re less expensive. In many ways, they’re also more convenient, as most platforms allow you to send messages to your therapist at any time, from anywhere, so long as you have an internet connection. Finally, many people today find it easier to open up in a virtual setting and from the comfort of their own home.
Importantly, the best online therapy platforms rigorously vet online therapists before hiring them. As a result, the virtual therapy you receive is provided by a licensed, professional online therapist. Thanks to comprehensive questionnaires included on many online counseling platforms, you’re also likely to be matched with a therapist specializing in your area of particular difficulty.
Here’s the really good news. There’s growing evidence that online therapy is just as effective as traditional, in-person therapy for many of the most common mental health difficulties, including depression, anxiety, and addiction.
A recent metastudy published in the Lancet journal of eClinicalMedicine looked at the results of 17 individual studies on online therapy, and found that online therapy in the form of electronic CBT (eCBT) was “more effective than face-to-face CBT at reducing depression symptom severity” and that there were “no significant differences between the two interventions on participant satisfaction.”
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a popular therapeutic intervention with proven success. In fact, it’s one of the most widely used and successful approaches for helping individuals with depression, anxiety, addiction and substance abuse, low self-esteem, and more. The fact that CBT administered via an online therapy platform can be just as effective as in-person therapy is an exciting prospect.
Other studies reinforce these findings. An article published in CyberPsychology & Behavior , for example, helped demonstrate that the partnership that forms between a therapist and their patient as they work together (called a “working alliance” in the study) is just as effective in online settings as in traditional ones. Furthermore, comments from participants suggest that many of them felt more at ease with virtual sessions.
Virtual therapy is a promising alternative for many individuals, but it may not be for everyone. If you have been previously diagnosed with a serious mental illness, like severe depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder, you should first seek in-person therapy. If you are currently experiencing or have experienced a desire to harm yourself or others, online therapy is not an appropriate option.
If you or someone you know is in danger, call 1-800-273-8255 in the US or your national mental health hotline. If you are unsure of whom to contact, call the police (911 in the US, 112 in Europe).
In most other cases, however, online therapy is a viable solution, and it may provide a more comfortable, convenient, and affordable experience for you.
As online therapy has grown in popularity, so too have the number of options available to you. The best online counseling and virtual therapy platforms available today offer competitive plans with plenty of helpful features. When choosing your platform, consider the following.
online to see how people feel about it. Make sure there’s good user support available if and when you need it.
By ensuring you find the best online therapy app for you, you’ll increase your chances of an enjoyable experience with a successful outcome. One easy way to get started is to compare the best services with our straightforward comparison chart. Your new online therapist could be just a few clicks away.