Much has been written about how online counseling lends a hand in treating mental health using computer aided technologies and trained counsellors who conduct real time chat messages, telephone calls or video conferencing with their clients.
In this article, we’ll try and explain what virtual counseling is all about and what are the main benefits one can hope to get from using these services. Hopefully by the end, you’ll have a good idea of whether virtual therapy is right for you or not.
What Exactly Is Virtual Therapy?
Simply put, online therapy is just the same as in-person therapy, except that the setting is changed. The days when mental health could only be accessed in front of a therapist’s couch are now a thing of the past. Virtual therapy allows you to seek professional help, whenever it suits you, at your fingertips.
What Makes It So Sought After?
Life is more reliant on technology in recent years than ever before, whether it is for shopping,socialising or almost any other service which suits us. To say that technology has revolutionized healtcare is an understatement, since it is but natural that an individual looks for comfort and ease when personal well-being is at stake with whatever tools are at disposal.
While there are many benefits, both emotional and pragmatic, to connect to a therapist online, some key advantages stand out in particular:
The inability to access face to face treatment with a health care specialist is possibly the main physical barrier which a person has to cross when it comes to seeking self-care for mental health related issues. Virtual therapy provides the answer by sweeping away these hurdles in one go, with just a click of a button on your laptop, phone or tablet.
The virtual therapy format allows a patient to gain services from an accredited therapist with minimum effort as regards to fixing appointments and being available for online appointments from time to time. Further, an online session can be done in the comfort of the home, on any digital device, without having to negotiate with rush hour traffic or long waits in a traditional doctor’s clinic.
Virtual thearapy is much more affordable
Traditional therapy can become out of reach for many people, especially those who don’t have insurance, and can lead people suffering from mental health issues to believe that treatment is out of reach, further compounding the issue.
This is where virtually therapy solves the solution as recourse to online treatment does not involve a physical visit to a doctor’s clinic, leading to substantial savings, which would otherwise add up significantly over the months of treatment it needs to be continued. In other words, virtual therapy provides equally high quality care at a much more affordable cost.
When you attend an in-house appointment with your health specialist, the communication takes place as long as you are sitting on the clinician’s couch and that’s the end of it till you meet again. With e-therapy, there is no such set time, but instead you get access to reach out to your therapist to set a session at any time you need without possibly having to wait for days to get an appointment with a traditional health care expert.
Access to more counsellors
As traditional therapy is limited to a small number of therapists, consumers may find it difficult to choose a suitable clinician. With the digital transformation of these sessions to an online platform, people have endless options to choose a service provider of their choice from any part of the world. Sites such as BetterHelp or Talkspace, 2 of the largest therapy platforms in the U.S, give users access to over 20,000 therapists they can choose from.
Potential Downsides Of Virtual Therapy
When choosing online therapy, it is but natural that as with anything there could be some negative points as well. Regardless of whether they apply in your case or not, it is always a good idea to have some knowledge about the information.
Lack of Insurance cover
While it is now becoming mandatory for states to cover online therapy in their insurance policies, not all have implemented it. Furthermore, some insurance companies may refuse virtual treatment coverage of a certain type altogether, depending on your location.
Loss of face-to-face contact
In a virtual world, the loss of proximity and safety when conducting therapy is a major negative factor which needs serious consideration by the therapist in the course of the treatment. For example, when dealing with a patient with suicidal tendencies, an online session will not be able to assist the client when attempting to implement a safety plan. Moreover, lack of eye contact may result in losing out on any important nonverbal cues like emotion, facial expressions or body language.
Any device can malfunction at any time, and the same holds true for an internet connection on which both the client and the health care specialist are solely dependent when conducting an online therapy session.
If your software issues crop up when we need the device the most, there will be moments when appointments will have to be either rescheduled or cancelled altogether just because virtual technology wasn’t able to perform its task.
One size doesn’t fit all
While online therapies have been found to be of immense help in many cases, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be suitable for everyone. Those who are suffering from serious psychiatric ailments will be required to get treatment from a traditional health care giver to understand the condition better, which otherwise is hard to conclude without interaction, as in an online therapy session.
Mental health is as, if not more, important than physical health.So whether you prefer in-person treatment or want to take recourse to virtual therapy, the need of the hour is to get out of the busy routine and take time out to heal your body.