Online Therapy – New Reality 2024

The last few turbulent years marked by the pandemic and total lockdown forced us to shift work meetings and Yoga classes to a virtual setting. As it turned out, you can do the same thing with your mental health care.

Do you know that the online therapy industry has witnessed unprecedented growth? According to recent studies, its market segment is projected to reach a staggering US$38.42 billion next year, showing an annual growth rate of almost 4% over the next five years. These numbers depict an enormous interest in the niche: more people are eager to try therapy online.

Though, that should not surprise you. There is a global mental crisis out there. The Mental Health Foundation reported the high burden of mental disorders globally and regionally. Some believe it to be a silent pandemic that affects all groups of society, from LGBTQ+ to teen girls and boys who are struggling to find themselves in social media-obsessed reality.

Many reasons stand behind an upsurge in the mental health market. First, the Covid-19 pandemic had its toll. During the first year of lockdown, the World Health Organization reported an increase in levels of anxiety and sadness across the population by 25%. A severe disruption of mental health services led to large gaps in care, resulting in more people experiencing mental health issues. That shows the importance of introducing and popularizing alternative remote mental healthcare services.

Another reason causing interest in affordable therapy lies in the increasing prevalence of mental disorders. The report published by WHO stated that one in every eight people in the world lives with one or another type of disorder and significant disturbances in thinking, emotional regulation, or behavior. While this situation was hushed up a decade ago, today, when society is more open and transparent about their issues, people are not afraid to share their pain with others and seek ways to ease their burden.

Finally, the primary factor that drives the market growth is the active popularization of web platforms that provide online counseling. Only last year, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) conducted an empowering campaign during Mental Health Awareness Month. It publicly stated the existence of mental health problems, created a sense of belonging for those who experienced an ongoing crisis, and unobtrusively agitated people to have proper treatment through online counseling services.

Conversations around online mental health care gradually expand, involving more people across the Globe. However, does it fit you? Let’s understand virtual therapy, what it addresses, and how it works.

What Is Online Therapy?

Online therapy is a form of online counseling provided by mental health facilities through digital communication channels, including websites, mobile applications, web chats, telephone, video conferencing, text messaging, social media, and even emails. It is widely known as teletherapy, e-therapy, web therapy, e-counseling, text therapy, cyber-counseling, or telepsychology services.

At its core, it is a modern take on traditional mental health counseling that psychologists, therapists, and counselors generally perform with various qualifications and licenses. It may occur in real-time and in a time-delayed format through various means of communication.

Online therapy services rely on the ethical framework created by The American Psychological Association. That includes several crucial postulates, such as

  • Online therapists should work only within their scope of practice and offer services they are trained to.
  • Virtual therapists must stay up-to-date with the latest research and best practices to provide the best care possible.
  • The therapist must know and adhere to the laws and guidelines specified by their location.
  • Online therapists must ensure the privacy and security of their client information in both the digital and real worlds.·   Virtual therapists should upgrade their skills and understand technology sufficiently to make communication with clients smooth and stress-free.

Different Approaches of Online Counseling

Nothing seems to replace a warm human touch conducted in the office. However, as technologies continue revolutionizing people’s lifestyles and offering communication and interaction methods, more people believe video conferences to be as effective as face-to-face in-office counseling. With the compassionate mental health therapist and the comfort of your home, it could be the same personal approach you crave.

Therefore, the scope of online counseling is slowly but surely extending. Today, therapy online helps with a variety of mental health conditions. The most popular topics are anxiety and depression, which are addressed through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). That is not all.

Online counseling helps people overcome phobias, cope with grief, face the aftermath of diseases, and become better people. Depending on the online therapy platform, you may find such helpful services as dialectical behavior therapy, emotion-focused therapy, exposure therapy, grief counseling, humanistic therapy, mentalization therapy, psychodynamic therapy, somatic therapy, and talk therapy.

Reasons to Try Therapy Online

While some are adamant about their therapy being only in the office, one could not deny that more people are starting to seriously consider an online approach to addressing their mental health issues. As studies show, the industry sees an exponential growth of clients yearly, and it feels pretty strong these days. Though, there is no surprise—many valid reasons back up its expansion.

First and foremost, online psychotherapy has become a true lifesaver for those who live in rural sectors or areas with little variety of therapists or without licensed mental health professionals at all. Thanks to online therapy providers, those communities get access to necessary medical care that they are deprived of due to circumstances they cannot control or fix.

The same goes for people with transportation issues or time constraints. From those with physical limitations to hard workers who are always limited on time or struggle with consistent access, there are so many people in our society for whom regular face-to-face therapy in the office is a true luxury.

The freedom, accessibility, and handiness of online mental health services bridge the gap between these groups and professional treatment. As long as they have a reliable internet connection and phone, they can access counseling anywhere they happen to be.

The second good reason to try mental health services online is that virtual therapy providers offer a wide range of mental health professionals. From licensed specialists in cognitive behavioral therapy to those with a specific area of focus like PTSD, you may find the best online therapist who is the perfect fit for your specific needs.

Third, virtual therapy speaks to the growing generation. While Millennials have doubts about whether to visit the therapist online or in the office, most Generation Z easily falls for video conferences with specialists. This approach perfectly blends into their fast-moving lifestyle and social-media-obsessed world.

According to the Global Youth Culture study, U.S. teens are in a mental health crisis, with over 60% of respondents reporting experiencing depression, high anxiety, and feelings of loneliness. Therefore, if your children have mental health issues, this could be an effective solution for them and you as a parent.

Finally, online counseling is the most convenient way to get professional treatment. Most of us are exhausted and empty due to our overwhelming schedules caused by busy lifestyles and unbalanced working conditions. Finding several hours to get to your mental health therapist and spend some quality time in the office feels like a true challenge that might even worsen your mental health conditions. However, with the best online therapy that offers sessions from the convenience of your home, it is much easier to fit therapy into a hectic schedule.

Pros and Cons of Online Therapy Services

The digital era has opened new avenues for many niches, including mental health treatment. With more people recognizing the validity and stability of virtual reality technologies, a sensitive sector like medicine has a real chance to reach all people who need help.

However, does it fit you? If you are on the fence about trying online mental health services, you should consider their pros and cons. Here are some valid arguments for making an informed decision.

Benefits of Using Online Psychotherapy

Virtual therapy performs lots of crucial tasks that unlock its true potential, including the following:

  • Sweep geographic hurdles aside.
  • Play along with a busy lifestyle.
  • Save time and dedicate it to yourself. With quick access, virtual therapy is the only way to find “me-time” in a frantic schedule and irregular working hours.
  • Avoid stressful situations, such as finding a free parking spot, navigating dense traffic, or leaving your bed when you feel low.
  • Get professional help from the comfort of your home and avoid the vulnerability of an unknown location, thereby elevating the sense of being in your safe space.
  • Be able to move at a preferable pace.
  • Get access to a range of qualified specialists to treat various mental health conditions.
  • Ease burden. Providing convenient access to a range of licensed mental health professionals decreases the stigma of reaching out and getting real support.
  • Save your money. Due to reduced overhead costs for virtual therapists, online therapy is more affordable than traditional in-office counseling. Plus, clients may take advantage of shorter session times or enjoy discounts and special offers.
  • Ensure safety in times of social distancing.
  • Provide more insights and clues. Showing your home environment opens new possibilities in the therapeutic process.

Last but not least, offer privacy. With plenty of security measures and high-grade encrypted one-on-one connections, you should not worry about your sensitive data or meeting a nosy neighbor in the waiting room.

Drawbacks of Online Counseling Service

Affordable online therapy comes with a host of benefits, but it is not without a few drawbacks and pitfalls. They are the following:

  • Not every insurance company covers it.
  • Some online therapy providers offer only home-state therapists, so you might not get many options.
  • Issues with the internet and technologies. A stable internet connection and the reliability of your device (phone, tablet, or laptop) underlie a good virtual therapy experience. If you have problems with some of those, your session might be ruined.
  • Some virtual therapy services lack rapid response.
  • Online counseling is not a local emergency service, such as 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988, which have 24/7 support.·   It is good only for mild to moderate illnesses.

How Virtual Therapy Works?

Virtual therapy is the same as traditional in-office therapy. Yet, it happens from the comfort of your home or wherever you feel comfortable to sit and enjoy conversation with the licensed specialist. It requires a stable internet connection and a reliable, preferably fully charged device to conduct an uninterrupted text or video conversation with the best online therapist. It could be a mobile phone, tablet, or laptop, whatever fits you most.

The regular session takes an hour and can be arranged weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. You may decide the best frequency for your meetings and even communicate via text messages or emails with your doctor between sessions.

The basic routine starts with contacting your insurance company and ensuring they cover this type of treatment. Sometimes, insurance companies reimburse the expenses; other times, you must pay independently and seek affordable therapy services with subscription discounts. The good news is that many of them may suit your budget.

After settling down with payment, you may jump into the best online therapy platforms and explore their possibilities. As a rule, the majority of them have 24/7 access to therapy. Although in some cases, it might be through text message and with a new specialist, nevertheless, you have quick access to a professional who is ready to hear you out and try to address your issues. If you prefer a more traditional way, many online therapy services allow clients to decide on their preferred frequency and length of sessions.

Choosing the right therapist is the next step. Whether you use an online therapy platform on the internet or prefer a mobile application, it has handy filters and a smart search engine, so you may quickly and hassle-free navigate through the whole range of options. Some applications may help you by matching you with the right specialist using your data. However, if you have time, you may research on your own.

The final step is to ensure your devices and internet connection are fine so you can be present in online sessions and get professional treatment from the comfort of your safe zone.