Friday, December 24, 2021

What is Online Therapy?

Online therapy is where mental health services are provided over the internet. This may be via texting, e-mail, instant messaging, face-to-face video call, or regular phone calls. Online therapy is often referred to as e-counseling, teletherapy, and e-therapy.

What is online therapy?

Therapy is where an individual (or group) meets with a professional therapist to resolve mental health issues, problematic behaviors, relationship issues, and beliefs. Therapy is overwhelmingly considered by the scientific community to be useful in becoming healthier, even for people who do not have a diagnosis or believe they need therapy.

Generally, therapy can be an effective way to change bad behaviors and habits, improve relationships, resolve and heal past traumas, and many other problems. Online therapy is no different, only the communication between therapist and client is done through the internet.

Are all therapists the same?
The short answer here is no, therapists differ from a wide range of backgrounds, education, and practices. An important point of distinction is that psychologists cannot prescribe medication but can provide therapy sessions, whilst psychiatrists can do both. However, in some states, psychologists can prescribe medication in some scenarios.

What type of therapists provide online therapy?
There is a wide range of types of therapy, from using ketamine and psilocybin to group counseling sessions. However, online therapy is almost entirely through a process of communication over the internet between a psychologist and a client.

One common concern with online therapy is that it’s lacking transparency, and the therapists aren’t as qualified as traditional therapists. The truth is that all therapists used by the key, reputable online therapy providers are all licensed professionals with the appropriate qualifications.

Is online therapy effective?
Many will wonder, is online therapy good? Is online therapy safe? The truth is that online therapy is considered to be as effective as traditional therapy. There are some advantages and disadvantages to restricting communication to being over the internet only. For example, some psychologists make use of body language when in the same room as the client. However, such drawbacks are met with unique advantages, such as being more easily reached and on-demand due to the instantaneous messaging infrastructure.

Ultimately, the core of therapy remains the same: a client communicates with a licensed, professional psychologist. Studies suggest that the vehicle of communication is far less important than the communication itself.

There is also evidence that online therapy can more easily provide access to mental health services for people who live in rural areas, or those who are too shy to go to traditional therapy. In this sense, online therapy is often perceived as an important stepping stone to more traditional therapy.

In rural United States, internet-based cognitive therapy was discovered to be an effective treatment of psychiatric disorders such as panic disorders, OCD, GAD, addiction, and substance use disorders. With the increased internet access in rural areas, online therapy proved to not only be an effective alternative but often the only viable option.

When was online therapy first used?
Online therapy isn’t a recent phenomenon, it has been around for almost as long as the internet itself. Online therapy can be dated back to as early as 1986, where Dear Uncle Ezra, a Cornell University Q&A forum, would produce many questions surrounding mental health. Soon after this, forums began a place of communication for almost anything in life, of which mental health inevitably plays a big role.

It has only been the past 15 years or so since online therapy has been legitimized through scientific study, which is why more therapists are now drawn to it. With the backing of the scientific community, online therapy has become a job role of preference for therapists that enjoy working from home, remotely, and can be in contact with patients more easily.

When did online therapy become mainstream?
Therapy has rarely entered the mainstream due to it being somewhat a taboo to talk about, though this is slowly changing. Therapy is featured in some popular culture, such as The Sopranos, but was never as openly talked about as it is today.

Online therapy has played an important role in this. Rarely do we see celebrities partner with mental health providers, but today we can see some of the world’s most successful pop stars work alongside online therapy providers. For example, in July 2021, Ariana Grande sponsored a $1 million free therapy giveaway in partnership with Betterhelp. The Instagram post generated over 1 million likes, as well as a lot of news exposure. Demi Lovato also partnered with Talkspace to advertise the platform’s services.

This is as mainstream as therapy has ever been, in part due to the power and profitability of tech companies.

Is online therapy safe?
Online therapy is considered to be highly safe due to the regulations and licensing that they must comply with. Legal and reputable online therapy providers will declare on their website the credibility of their own therapists, usually stating that each and each one is vetted and licensed. It is true that the vetting process isn’t often transparent, but it’s a guarantee that any therapist you speak with will be licensed with the same credentials that are required to provide traditional therapy.

How to start online therapy
Starting online therapy is considered to be somewhat easier than traditional therapy, hence its success and vast number of sign-ups. Signing up to online therapy is a matter of deciding on what your needs are, finding the best online therapy sites, and picking one that suits your needs.

From here, signing up can take all of 10 minutes, along with payment or exercising a promotional offer. An advantage of online therapy is that it’s fast and instantly available, and this is reflected in the onboarding process.

This is a blog post by Jacob Reeves.

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