Healing Through Counseling
More and more people have recognized therapy as a way to mend their broken hearts, to alleviate their depression and anxiety, or even just to help them think straight. Within the last two years, a whopping 30 million Americans have been reported to go through psychotherapy. Clearly, the stigma behind therapy as being only for the mentally ill has slowly diminished, which is probably the reason for the increase of the population seeking treatment for concerns other than mental conditions.
However, the rise in popularity of psychotherapy has also been the reason for the emergence of online therapy communities. This involves online video or chat conversations between a patient and an online counselor, and a virtual discussion of the patient’s issues and concerns. With the availability of an Internet connection and a smartphone or a tablet, one can start his journey to healing anytime, anywhere.
But is online therapy really effective? Is it better than the traditional face-to-face therapy sessions that we are used to? Here we will attempt to provide the advantages and disadvantages of healing through online counseling.
The comfort that e-counseling provides is one of the most common reasons for its popularity. Rather than having to travel to a clinic, which may be quite far and inconvenient especially for mothers, they can choose to have their therapy right at their homes. They can choose a time when they are free from work and from their household obligations, and begin therapy in their rooms – perhaps even beside their kids while they’re asleep.
You can stay anonymous if you haven’t decided whether or not to proceed with the formal therapy – or you can stay anonymous forever. That’s something that shy and anxious individuals have always wanted. They are hesitant of visiting a therapist in their clinics and therefore are unable to get the help they need. With online counseling, even the most timid have the opportunity to find solutions to their problems. Anonymity also decreases the stigma associated with seeking therapy, as society links therapy only to people with specific mental illnesses.
It is less expensive than face-to-face therapy. Those who cannot afford insurance now have the chance to seek help from an online therapist who provides affordable options for 30 and 60-minute sessions.
If you wanted to check out an online therapist before giving them your life story and your money, you could do so. Some online therapists make it extremely easy to check them out, while others make it extremely difficult. —
The therapist may have difficulty assessing the character of the patient. Body language, tone of voice, and facial expression are elements that are essential in making precise assessments of the character of a patient. This is one barrier that does not exist in traditional therapy, where the therapist can easily evaluate the patient’s behavior through verbal and non-verbal cues.
Security may be breached. Even with the advent of modern software developed to protect delicate information in our computer, hacking and illegal procurement of confidential property has been often successful. Privacy of patient information therefore depends on the efficiency of the system and the skills of the person in charge of keeping information hidden and encrypted.
It may not be as effective in treating more complex mental conditions. Because online therapy is limited only to chat messages, email, or video conferences, it cannot be a reliable medium for diagnosing more complicated issues as depression and psychosis. Also, without face-to-face interaction, there is a possibility of misdiagnosis.
Furthermore, in behavioral health treatment, the likelihood of adverse events are more correlated to severity of illness than the qualifications of the provider. — Sean X. Luo M.D., Ph.D.
It would be wise to weigh the pros and cons of going through online therapy. If you need help with some personal or family issues, perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to try out the comforts of e-counseling. If, however, you wish to seek treatment for depression or more serious mental disorders, it would be best to read through this article again before making a final decision.