Is Online Therapy as Effective as Traditional Counseling?

Updated on 05/18/2022

Is Online Therapy as Effective as Traditional Counseling?

The recent surge in the availability of online services in the mental health field is significant. Online therapy allows people to get the help they need from the convenience of their own homes. Despite this convenience, some people around the U.S. are questioning if online therapy is as effective as traditional counseling. 

The best online therapy options are equally effective as in-person options in most scenarios. Some limitations do apply based on Wi-Fi connectivity and the availability of privacy. People also question the security of internet connections during telehealth-facilitated video counseling sessions. All online sessions are required to be protected by HIPPA and counselor-patient privilege the same as in-person sessions, however.

Online therapy for adults, children and seniors is available in 2022. The process to get a therapist online is also convenient and accessible for most people. Online counseling options to help with anxiety, substance abuse, depression and many disorders are all available today. Read ahead to discover if online therapy is as effective as traditional in-person counseling now.

Multiple Benefits of Online Therapy

The primary goals of attending counseling or therapy sessions are to improve and/or find a resolution to mental, emotional or life-choice problems. Many people wonder if seeing an online psychologist for their issues offers the same benefits as visiting a counselor in person. The differences are only a few, while the benefits are quite similar for each.

Convenience and Accessibility

The best online therapy options offer unique benefits not available with in-person sessions. Some benefits are unique to online therapy blend with and influence others. For example, seeing an online counselor offers convenience and accessibility. Help with mental/emotional health issues is now available on your phone, tablet or laptop via telehealth services. 

It is no longer necessary to leave your home to receive therapy, which saves time and money by eliminating commutes. This benefit is also applicable to people suffering from anxiety, body-negative disorders, agoraphobia and/or physical disabilities. 

Because smart technology-enabled devices are portable, however, convenient accessibility to therapy means people are always on the go and also have time to get the help they need.

Safety During a Continuing Global Pandemic

COVID-19 turned everything upside down. As a means of adapting, medical and psychiatric facilities had to implement online services. In the spring of 2021 restrictions finally began lifting only for a delta variant of the virus to rapidly start infecting people around the world again, including between fifteen and twenty percent of those with vaccinations. 

Staying home to get counseling and therapy protects you from exposure to COVID-19, the flu and other communicable diseases.

Availability Improves and Saves More Lives

Availability is different from accessibility. It is easy to access local therapists but sessions are only scheduled when they are available. Lack of accessibility in 2022 to AA/NA meetings and substance abuse services contributed to an increase in overdoses among people who relapsed on heavy drugs. 

Suicide rates also increased due to people suffering from depression or other mental/emotional disorders who could not attend regular counseling sessions. The top online mental health services in 2022 erase time zones and provide the help you need 24/7.

Availability in Remote Locations

People in need of mental/emotional support should not go without it because of where they live. Booking a session with an online psychologist blurs the lines between cities, counties and even states. As long as a patient/client has access to reliable Wi-Fi or a cellular data plan counseling is available to help.

Different Types of Therapy Available Online

Most every type of therapy available in person is also available online. Couples counseling is available online for couples in the same place or different locations. Substance abuse counseling is also available online today. 

Mental health services for a wide variety of disorders are available 24/7 with Talkspace therapists and other practices. The best online therapy for anxiety involves helping people overcome their issues without forcing them to leave their homes. 

This process helps people take small steps toward larger goals and steadily improve their quality of life. Several additional types of therapy available online include:

  • Anger management.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) counseling.
  • Eating disorder therapy.
  • Coping with aging and/or physical disabilities.
  • Children’s counseling.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).
  • Family counseling.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.
  • Gambling addiction counseling.
  • Depression.
  • Grief.
  • Psychoanalysis.
  • Humanistic.
  • Integrative/holistic.

How to Select the Best Online Counseling Program

The process to get a therapist online is similar to selecting one in-person with a few differences unique to using the internet. For example, choosing the best online counseling program for your needs requires research into the counselor options available to you. 

This research involves verifying credentials, licenses, specializations and years of experience. It is also possible to use websites such as Yelp, GoodTherapy and the OnlineTherapy.com directory for your searches.

An element vital to choosing an online counseling program involves recognizing your expectations and needs. Write down information about your experiences and issues. Be confident in expressing your concerns and honest about everything happening related to your need for therapy. 

It is not your job to diagnose yourself but it is your responsibility to provide the most accurate and important information to your therapist as clearly as possible. Doing so helps you get the counseling you need faster.

Counseling/therapy involves an intake process, during which an intake specialist asks you many questions about what you are experiencing. Questions are asked about why you think you need therapy and what you hope to accomplish by attending sessions. 

The intake specialist then assigns you to an online psychologist matching your specific needs. Choose your counselor based on your overall comfort level, his or her gender and qualifications. Know the pricing upfront and what your insurance covers. 

Also, be certain to understand the frequency (sessions per month) and time (length per session) of your sessions to allow for proper scheduling and planning.

Online Therapy Options

Betterhelp counseling is one of the best online therapy options today. Plans are at $40/mo and financial aid is available if your insurance does not cover your sessions. 

Online-Therapy.com offers counseling on your terms with anonymous, private and flexible options. Talkspace accepts a long list of insurance providers. Talkspace also offers individual, couples and teens counseling in addition to medication management (psychiatry).