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How Does Online Therapy Work?

Find out how you can get started researching online therapy options and start feeling your best.


Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost everything we used to do in person has become virtual—and that includes therapy. Though online therapy has been around for a while, more people than ever before are seeking out online therapy options.

A lot of people who have found virtual therapy in recent years prefer online treatment as opposed to in-person therapy. It can be difficult to find time in your day to drive to an office and sit in a waiting room, so it makes sense that online therapy has become a go-to for people leading busy lives. If you’ve been feeling tense or down recently and have considered pursuing therapy, then keep reading to discover how online therapy providers work.


What Does Online Therapy Entail?

Online therapy options are more similar to in-person therapy than you may think.

Online therapy is more similar to in-person therapy than you may think!


If you haven’t attended a therapy session before, it is hard to know what to expect. In person therapy usually consists of a loosely structured triage appointment where your therapist gets to know you and some of the issues you are currently experiencing. From this initial appointment, you can schedule appointments at regular intervals as you see fit.

Online therapy operates in exactly the same way, except that your appointments will take place via a telehealth link instead of in an office. Depending on your preference you can talk to your therapist via a secure video call service like Zoom, or you have the option to talk on the phone. Some services even offer in-app messaging services, but this is not the case with all telehealth providers. If you pursue therapy through an individual therapist, you will pay per session. For subscription therapy services, you’ll pay a flat monthly fee.


What are the Pros and Cons of Online Therapy Options?

It is wonderful to have online therapy options when you’re too busy to visit in person, but it is still important to consider the pros and cons.


Virtual therapy is ideal for people who might not be comfortable with an in-person appointment.


Since online therapy services are still fairly new, there is limited data to prove or disprove their effectiveness. However, there are studies that show that live video sessions with a therapist can be just as effective as in-person therapy.

This is not true for every individual, since some have more severe symptoms of anxiety or depression that should be dealt with in person, or may be beyond the scope of what online therapy can provide. To get a better idea of whether or not online therapy options are right for you, take a look at our list of pros and cons:



Online Therapy Pros

  • Super convenient for people with busy schedules or parents

  • Online therapy is less intimidating for some

  • Ability to see a therapist from out of town as opposed to limited local options

  • Online therapy options are often covered by insurance

  • Easy and automatic scheduling

  • No complications related to COVID-19 policies

  • No potential transportation issues

  • You can share files, pictures, and videos during your session

Online Therapy Cons

  • There is a high chance for tech issues including poor internet connection, lack of audio, or a frozen screen

  • Difficult to pick up non-verbal communication

  • Sometimes online therapy is not enough for those with more severe conditions

  • Sessions are open to at-home distractions

  • People unfamiliar with video conferencing may experience issues

Your sessions will contribute to your daily screen time, which many want to decrease


How to Choose Which Option is Best for You

It can be difficult to decide between online therapy options vs in-person. Luckily, we’re here to help.


Examine your own mental health needs before making your final decision.


Therapy is an extremely personal form of healthcare, so it is impossible to give a clear answer on which option is preferable. However, once you read over the pros and cons we just listed, you can ask yourself a few questions to help you decide which care option will get you back to feeling your best:


1. Do You Have a Preference?

If you have attended therapy before, you likely have a preference in mind. No matter which you choose, it is a good idea to start looking for either exclusively in-person or exclusively online therapy. If you consider too many options at once, the selection process quickly becomes overwhelming.


2. Would You Be Better Served With In-Person Therapy?

Depending on your mental state and the symptoms you are currently experiencing, some therapists will recommend in-person therapy over online therapy options


3.Is Your Access to In-Person Therapy Limited?

For some people who live in rural areas, access to an in-person therapist can be tricky. Often therapists are far away or may not be able to take new clients. That’s why telehealth therapy options are preferable for people who would have to travel long distances for in-person therapy. Online therapy is also a great option for those who do not drive.


Now that we've gone over the basics of virtual therapy versus in-person therapy, the choice is up to you. Only you can properly assess your mental health needs and choose the best therapy option. You might even want to try online therapy to start, and switch to in-person when you feel ready. No matter your decision, pursuing therapy is a major step toward feeling your best.




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