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By Carley Prendergast, Editor, Forbes Health
Are you looking into therapy options, but not sure where to start? One option worth considering—particularly if you’re strapped for time and are looking for a treatment that’s easily accessible—is online therapy. Read on for five benefits that online therapy may offer you.
It Provides Access From Almost Anywhere
Online therapy–which is therapy rendered remotely, via telecommunication tools like messaging, audio and video—can help provide support for individuals in many different circumstances, such as parents who lack childcare, individuals living in isolated areas and people with conditions that impact their mobility. All that’s needed is a working internet connection.
Lisa Henderson, a licensed professional counselor expert at the American Counseling Association spoke with Forbes Health about the additional privacy benefits virtual therapy provides. “For people whom stigma is a concern, especially if they live in a tight-knit community, parking their car outside a counseling center or therapy office can really violate their privacy,” says Henderson. “But online therapy is really discreet and can protect people’s privacy and confidentiality in ways that in-person [therapy] simply cannot.”
It Can Be Just As Effective As In-Person Care
Research shows that in many cases, teletherapy is just as effective as in-person care. One study in the Journal of Affective Disorders conducted an eight-week trial of 62 participants randomly assigned to face-to-face and internet-based therapy groups. It found that digital treatment for depression proved to be “equally beneficial” to traditional, in-person therapy.
What’s more, at a three-month check-up after treatment had ended, those treated by online therapy appeared to be more stable, compared to in-person participants, whose symptoms of depression actually worsened.
It Allows for Different Communication Styles
While online therapy is convenient geographically, there are also benefits when it comes to your communication preferences or needs.
Many online therapy platforms today offer text, audio, photo and video communication routes. The texting option, for example, can provide a great route for participants with selective mutism (a condition in which a person is unable to speak in certain social situations) or those with other conditions affecting their ability to communicate verbally.
Henderson also previously noted to Forbes Health the sense of intimacy that can come with alternatives to in-person communication. “In some ways, video is more intimate than being in the same room because we’re in each other’s space,” Henderson explains.
It May Offer More Affordable Options
As previously reported by Forbes Health, the average cost of psychotherapy can cost anywhere from $100 to $200 per session (depending on your location and insurance coverage), according to a report in 2019 by SimplePractice, a mental health practice management system for professionals.
Online therapy apps can appear less expensive than in-person treatment, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), which is often due to weekly or monthly fees presented by these platforms to cover unlimited use of their services. Some online session prices can also be lower when compared to the cost of a traditional visit, which can be a benefit if you are not using insurance, since online therapy may not always be covered.
As for some of the best online therapy providers, you can try out eTherapy Pro for $55 weekly, Cerebral for $99 for your first month, LiveHealth Online for $80 a session and BetterHelp for anywhere from $60 to $90 per session.
It Can Provide More Inclusive Options
Another benefit of online therapy is it may provide spaces that feel more inclusive. For example, the non-profit Open Path operates with the interests of the uninsured in mind and markets itself to all backgrounds. It offers affordable in-person or online care for its members.
Many online therapy providers like Talkspace also offer services specifically for those who identify as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, connecting individuals with licensed therapists who have experience working in and with the community. Additionally, there are platforms like LGBTQ Therapy Space and Pride Counseling, which are designed specifically for LGBTQIA+ individuals.
While there is certainly in-person care designed to feel inclusive for all, online therapy platforms make connecting with a therapist that best matches your needs a more streamlined process.
The Value of Online Therapy
Having good mental health contributes to overall health, and online therapy can help people work on their mental state just as traditional therapy can. Plus, online therapy may provide a more affordable, accessible and inclusive way of treatment. If you’re looking for a convenient way to boost your mental health, online therapy may be a good option for you.
-Carley Prendergast is an editor at Forbes Health