Counseling via Internet or In-Person? What Are the Benefits of Online Therapy?

Video conferencing, online meetings, and chat discussion groups have become the norm for getting work done in the internet age.

In your work, you might have to take part in an “all hands” online meeting in the AM, and then be messaging with a client in the afternoon. Or perhaps you have an interview with a potential new employee via a person-to-person video calling tool.

Thus, it makes sense that people—both clients and therapists—would consider counseling online to be an option as well. There are several advantages to utilizing these tools for mental health.

What are some?

When You Can’t Get There from Here

First, using the internet for counseling is really useful when you “can’t get there from here.” This is especially true for those who live in remote areas of the country. They may be hours from a hospital, let alone mental health services.

This should give you pause as, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), rural Americans are more likely to die by suicide than those that live in more urban areas. Any tool that can help bring that number down—including internet counseling—should definitely be considered.

A More Comfortable Way to Start the Process

Next, online therapy can be a helpful way for people to start their therapeutic journey.

It might be easier for someone to talk to a therapist initially via video chat than face-to-face. That could be because they can be in their home, which is comfortable and familiar. Or maybe because having that barrier of someone on a screen helps you feel safer.

Additionally, many companies offer instant messaging as part of their general services. And these tools allow for privacy. So, in essence, you can talk to someone about what’s going on for you and have more privacy than if you were in a therapists’ office.

Greater Availability

Depending on the service, you could message someone whenever you want. That can be really helpful as it frees up more time in your day.

Therapy in an office setting might only take fifty minutes. But there is the travel time to and from the office to get there. Because of distance, you may have to squeeze it in during your lunch break—which isn’t the most ideal.

More Accessibility for Those with Mobility Issues

Many people struggle with mobility issues. Perhaps they were in an accident recently and have a hard time getting around. Or they have a permanent disability or suffer from a long-term illness. Leaving their home might be difficult, especially without support.

However, online therapy helps remove that barrier. This is important, as they might be struggling with depression because of their mobility issue. Online therapy can ensure that, regardless of their ability to get around, these people get the help and emotional support they need.

But What About the Difficulty of Mastering a New Tool?

For many therapists and patients, using online tools to communicate with each other may seem daunting. However, this is just another barrier to care that can be addressed.

If you know how to do an online search, you can look up the steps to use this technology. Another idea is to ask a friend or loved one who understands how these tools work to get you started. You might be surprised how quickly you can get the knack of it!

Also, workshops or classes may offer another option. For instance, if you are a therapist, it might be one of the offerings on the agenda. If you are an older and retired individual, there may be a class available at your local community center. There are even events that pair young people with older adults to help them learn about these tools!

It can seem as if technology makes us more disconnected from one another. However, it does have the power to build connections too. This is especially true for those who might not have man options when needing professional mental health care services.

If you are considering online therapy and have questions about how it works, please don’t hesitate to call / text us 256-686-9195.

 
 
Author
Joshua Howell, MS, LPC, NCC, AADC, ICAADC, SAP, SAE

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