The COVID-19 pandemic brought many changes to our lives. Like countless other healthcare providers, educators, and organizations, mental health counselors and CBT therapists quickly pivoted to providing online therapy / online cbt (for those that weren’t providing it already). While online therapy was not new, the pandemic caused its use to skyrocket. Like so many other aspects of life, online and video became the new norm.
Now that the pandemic is waning and the world is beginning to open up again, you may be wondering if it would be better to get online therapy or return to in-person therapy. Or perhaps you’ve been putting off therapy because you think in-person sessions will be more effective.
If this sounds familiar, it’s good to review the evidence about online therapy / online cbt versus in-person therapy effectiveness.
Online Therapy Advantages
I’ve been offering online therapy / online cbt long before the pandemic began, since 2007. My online clients and I have found that it brings several benefits. In fact, many of them find that they prefer it to in-person sessions. Here’s why:
In our overscheduled, busy modern lives, trying to fit one more appointment into your day or week can be overwhelming. It may even be so stressful that it prevents you from seeking therapy, even though you may benefit greatly from online therapy / online cbt.
Online cbt / online therapy, however, can fit more easily into your day. There’s greater ease of scheduling, and you don’t have to plan extra time to account for getting to and from your appointment.
For those who regularly travel for work, online cbt / online therapy can be the difference between effective therapy and no therapy at all.
May Offer You Additional Early Morning or Late Evening Appointments
Shift workers, those who work very late, parents with small children, and expats living in different time zones may benefit from the additional time slots that online therapy can provide.
In addition, those who prefer to have therapy early in the morning before work, or late at night might particularly benefit from the flexibility online therapy / online cbt can provide.
Some individuals are uncomfortable about running into acquaintances in the waiting room of a therapist’s office. Stigmas around mental health treatment have lessened, but they are still there. Therapy at home safeguards your privacy and security.
The Increased Emotional Comfort
By and large, people are more relaxed and at ease in the comfort of their own homes. During online therapy / online cbt sessions, you can wear sweatpants or even your pajamas. You can sit in your favorite chair with your cat in your lap and a cup of your favorite tea in hand. You can also sit in the park and soak up the benefits of being in nature while having your online therapy session.
These factors work together to help many people feel more able to open up online than they initially would in-person. By circumventing the stress of getting to an in-person appointment, and then being in another person’s space, you’re able to transition more easily to therapy mode. This can help you gain more from the therapy session.
Greater Choice with
Online therapy / online cbt also provides you more choices about what kind of therapist you want to see. If you live outside of town with limited options, online therapy will let you access skilled therapists hundreds and even thousands of miles away. Likewise, if you’ve tried therapists who live in your area but weren’t a good fit, online therapy / online cbt gives you a far greater variety of therapists to choose from. The important thing here is just to make sure that any potential therapist is licensed / accredited in the area you live.
What Research Says
Many research studies have been done in the last decade on the effectiveness of online therapy / online cbt vs. in-person therapy / in-person cbt. They’ve looked at its use for depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and similar issues. This research has demonstrated over and over that online therapy is equally as effective as in-person therapy for treating and problems like these. In some cases, it’s even more effective.
Researchers have also learned that individuals hesitant about therapy are usually more comfortable starting with online sessions.
Protecting Your Personal and Medical Information
Of course, you always want to do your homework and make sure that any online therapist you work with has taken the necessary steps to protect your personal and medical information. Improved technology makes it possible to provide secure, encrypted sessions.
I take the utmost care in my practice to safeguard your personal and medical information. I would also suggest asking any potential online therapist if they had specialist training in working online and what their experience is providing online therapy.
Deciding Between Online Therapy and In-Person Therapy
The truth is that neither online therapy / online cbt nor in-person therapy / in person cbt sessions are statistically more effective than the other. A lot of it just comes down to personal preference and sometimes we need to try things out to know what is best for us. To read more about Online Therapy and Online CBT, please click HERE.
I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Hawaii and an Accredited CBT Therapist in the UK with over 15 years experience. Please feel free to contact me at my Honolulu or London clinic to set up a free online CBT Test Drive.