Does Online Therapy Work?

talking online with a therapist

In the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ways that we do almost everything have changed.

Many of us work from home. We wear masks when we go out in public and are careful to stay at least six feet away from others. We more often pick up from restaurants and less often eat in. Our social engagements are limited and many of them now take place online. 

It’s no surprise, then, that many services we need and use have gone online as well. Many doctors of all kinds are seeing their patients virtually, and online therapy has become the norm for many mental health providers as well.

This pandemic has been stressful for every one of us. Many people feel isolated and lonely. Some have lost loved ones. Others feel hopeless and wonder if we will ever reach the light at the end of the tunnel.

As a result of these stressors, more people are seeking mental health services than ever before. However, some are surprised when they discover that they will be meeting with a therapist online instead of in person. Many wonder if online therapy will work or if it is a waste of time.

Fortunately, online therapy does work, and it helps many people in need every year – even before the pandemic began. To learn more, read on.

Why Online Therapy?

Right now, many people are turning to online therapy because of the pandemic. We have been asked to stay home when possible to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, and most people are adhering to this suggestion whenever possible. As a result, many therapists have moved out of their brick and mortar offices for the time being and are offering their services remotely from their homes.

However, online therapy is not new. It is not a new invention due to the pandemic. There are therapists and clients all over the world who have been participating in online therapy for decades. Why?

The reasons for this are numerous.

Some people in need of therapy live in rural areas; it would take them longer to get to and from the provider than the length of each session, so they choose to meet with their therapist online or over the telephone. 

Others may benefit from a specialist for their therapy. If no specialist is available in their area, they may choose to participate in online therapy with a therapist located far away.

In some cases, a patient has developed a good relationship with a therapist, but one of them has chosen to move. In order to continue their work and progress, online therapy is needed.

Finally, some people simply find it more convenient to attend therapy in this way instead of in person. 

Online therapy existed before the pandemic, and it will continue to exist – and likely expand – after it moving forward.

Benefits of Online Therapy

Although some may feel that online therapy is not as good as in-person therapy, there are a number of benefits to going this route – pandemic or not. 

First of all, the scheduling of online therapy can be very flexible and in some cases, entirely fluid. If you’re someone who has a schedule that changes often, or if you live in a very busy household, online therapy will give you the opportunity to schedule your sessions for whenever you are available. Sometimes, you can even set up a much-needed session at the very last minute. That would be impossible in most standard office settings.

Second, people who access therapy through online sources save so much time, energy, and money because they don’t have to commute to a therapist’s office. This can make therapy much more affordable and convenient for the people who need it, especially people who need to fit their sessions into a busy day of work or while their children are playing or napping.

Further, online therapy is generally less expensive than in-person therapy because of a number of reasons including the fact that space in an office is not necessary. People who participate in online therapy also don’t have to be nervous about running into a friend, relative, or acquaintance in the therapist’s waiting room.

One benefit that many might not realize is comfort and familiarity. Some people have a hard time opening up to their therapist in their therapist’s office, but when they are home in a comfortable and familiar setting, they feel less vulnerable and find themselves more willing to discuss their problems and needs.

Online Therapy Works 

Despite all of the above benefits, some people worry that online therapy is not as effective as in-person therapy. However, numerous studies have shown that it can be quite effective for many who try it.

One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2014, put sixty-two participants in randomized groups to determine if online therapy was as effective as in-person therapy for help with their pre-diagnosed depression. It found that there was no significant difference in the progress of the members of the two groups.

Another 2014 study was published in Behaviour Research and Therapy and focused instead on participants with anxiety disorders. It included one hundred participants; they received online cognitive behavior therapy (ICBT) for ten weeks. At the end of ten weeks, many of the people in the study demonstrated significant progress towards their goals.

Finally, a 2018 study published in the Journal of Psychological Disorders looked at online cognitive behavioral therapy overall. Through a meta-analysis of ICBT trails for major depression, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, or generalized anxiety disorder, researchers sound that online therapy can be very effective for people suffering from these conditions.

Try Online Therapy

Online therapy works. The bottom line is that therapists want to help people. It is their passion and their calling and they want to help you. The medium does not matter as much as the care and support they want to give 

If you have been thinking about trying online therapy, what are you waiting for? As you can see, there are many clear benefits to participating in therapy in this way, and studies have shown that it works. Online therapy may be exactly what you need to help you feel on track again. This pandemic has been hard on everyone and online therapy can help.

Are you thinking about online therapy? If you have more questions, please check out our FAQ page, or contact us today. We can’t wait to hear from you