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Online Therapy vs. Traditional Therapy Benefits and Drawbacks

Online therapy has gained significant popularity in recent years. Websites like BetterHelp.com make it easy to get matched with a qualified counselor. There are some great benefits of using an online counselor, but there are potential drawbacks compared to a face-to-face therapeutic environment. It is a good idea to explore both options before deciding because every situation is unique.

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Convenience

There is no denying that online therapy is much more convenient. To contact a therapist, you need access to your computer or smartphone (if you have a solid internet connection). Traditional therapy requires a phone call, an appointment, and a drive to the office.

You will be able to contact an online therapist from the comfort of your own home and can choose whether to use text, video or even have a traditional phone call with a counselor you connected with.  For some people, this may add a comfort level that they cannot achieve with face-to-face interaction. However, others may prefer to see their therapist in-person.

People who live in rural areas and those who do not or cannot drive can still speak with a counselor in an online setting even though they cannot visit a traditional one. It would be best if you always kept in mind that you need a quality internet connection. If you do not have access to a clear Wi-Fi signal, your best bet may be choosing traditional therapy.

Quality of Care

You may be concerned about the efficacy of online therapy. Studies suggest that online therapy or teletherapy can work extremely well. In fact, 96% of patients in one study indicated that they were satisfied with their sessions. In particular, online therapy is believed to be an effective way to treat trauma, anxiety, and depression.

However, some people may feel more comfortable talking to their therapist face-to-face. Also, many experts do not recommend teletherapy for severe mental health issues. Even in these cases, though, online therapy can be used to supplement traditional therapy.

Finally, even though the research into online therapy is promising, traditional therapy has much more support from scientific studies throughout the years.

Flexibility

There is much more flexibility for online therapy compared with traditional therapy. For one, you can begin therapy almost immediately. Typically, you can sign up and locate a qualified online therapist in just a few hours to a few days. With traditional therapy, you must locate a therapist in your area and make an appointment which maybe weeks in the future.

Besides, you can contact an online therapist basically any time. You can schedule a live session or video conference with a counselor, or you can exchange messages at any hour of the day.

Confidentiality

HIPAA laws apply in the same way to online therapy as they do for in-person sessions; therefore, your private health information is protected. It is important to note that you should always make sure that your method of communication is HIPAA-compliant.

Another consideration is the fact that you can stay at home for online therapy. Nobody would ever be able to see you at a therapist’s office. Conversely, some people feel more comfortable sharing private information in person.

Affordability

Online therapy may be more affordable than traditional therapy, but pricing structures should be evaluated. Also, insurance coverage varies and should be considered when you are exploring different prices.

Final Thoughts

Much more research supports the benefits of traditional therapy; however, the recent studies regarding online therapy are promising. Some of the benefits are based on personal preference. Some may be more comfortable sharing information face-to-face, while others like to send a message to their counselor at any time. Other things, like whether you can drive to a therapist once a week, make online therapy the better option.

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