Are Online Therapists Effective?
Before you decide to connect with one of our online therapists, a big and important question to ask is “will it work? Should I just bite the bullet and see someone offline, even if online would be more convenient?”
With the rise of online therapy, concerns have been raised about its effectiveness. Some have suggested that it is not possible to conduct “good” therapy without the face-to-face, in-person connection. Luckily, now that online therapy has been around for over a decade, there is research to factually, empirically respond to those concerns.
Online Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is as Effective as Offline Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
Briefly, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the first-line therapeutic intervention for a wide variety of mental illness such as anxiety, depression, OCD, panic attacks, and even overcoming periods of increased stress or negative thinking. It is being demonstrated effective as an online tool and is especially important as you consider the decision to commit to online counseling.
Research continues on the effectiveness of online therapy. Currently, the research indicates clearly that online therapy is as effective as offline, face-to-face therapy for CBT. Specifically, online CBT has been shown to be as effective as offline for reducing insomnia and suicidal ideation when it is provided alongside a routine of psychiatric support, too.
What’s more, six months after the online CBT ended, the reductions in the patients’ struggle with sleep and suicidal thoughts stayed consistent. This means that not only is online CBT effective as it is being provided, but the effects stay around long-term afterwards, too.
In fact, a second (albeit smaller) study suggested that online CBT was even more effective than face-to-face therapy in providing lasting results. The results of this research found that for patients suffering from depression, three months after finishing the CBT, those who received CBT were more stable than those who received offline care and the depression symptoms of those who underwent offline CBT treatment worsened after finishing therapy.
Online Mindfulness Therapy is Effective, Too!
Mindfulness therapy, an effective treatment for depression and anxiety, is another intervention that experts have been researching to determine its effectiveness of being delivered to patients online. Results thus far have been promising.
A 2013 study found that an online mindfulness therapy tool offered improved participants’ well-being, reduced depression, and decreased stress/anxiety levels. A second study in 2013 came to the same conclusion: mindfulness therapy administered online is effective.
As online therapy services continue to expand, and the impact that they are having on clients continues to be seen, more research will be conducted on its effectiveness. If you are still looking for more evidence of online therapy’s effectiveness, keep an eye out for new studies.
The Importance of Your Commitment
Overall, the research indicates that online therapy can be just as effective as offline therapy. What the research does not capture, though, is the importance of commitment to therapy either way. If, for example, having to make time in your schedule to travel all the way to a therapist offline does not work for your lifestyle, then therapy will not be effective. If offline therapy is inconvenient, and thus becomes an inconsistent chore rather than a time for you to prioritize your own healing process, you will not get as much benefit.
Online therapy is convenient, and can be received from the comfort of your own home. Privacy and discretion is assured, and the hours of your appointments can more easily be flexible. If these benefits will help you stay committed to therapy then it is certain that for you, online therapy will be more effective. Remember that counseling is an active process that involves not just the therapist making you better, but you learning how you can take steps in your life to improve your mental health. Your therapist will help guide you in figuring out exactly what it is you need to regain stability.