Online Therapy (or Telehealth) services are some of the most popular new innovations in the therapy field. A therapy session can happen anywhere, anytime, as long as there is have an internet-enabled device with a camera. And who doesn’t have a smartphone nowadays?
But there are so many myths about Online Therapy that may scare you off of the proposition altogether. For many, online therapy and even online conversations, are a brave new world, with its own pitfalls and challenges. And these myths, if believed, stand in the way of getting help in a much-needed way.
So let’s bust up some myths and break down obstacles to the Online Therapy world.
Myth 1 – Online therapy is not as effective as face-to-face sessions
Like anything beneficial in life, you get out what you put into therapy, whether it is online or in-person. There are many pros to online sessions including convenience, less stress, and more economical as you don’t have to travel, pay for gas, get stuck in traffic, wait in a waiting room, etc.
And yes! Online Therapy has been shown to be effective and comparable to in-person sessions. It is associated with positive outcomes across a wide range of issues, from eating disorders to anxiety, depression and even PTSD. Online Therapy also offers several advantages over in-person therapy, including greater access to care, and the ability to schedule at more convenient times, and being able to see your therapist from the comfort of your own home or chosen surroundings.
See these sources for more information: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5723163/ and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3662387/
Myth 2 – You cannot build a relationship with a therapist online
This one is partly true and partly false. It can be more difficult to build a relationship with your therapist online, especially for those who did not grow up with FaceTime or Skype as part of their everyday life. But similar to that first therapy meeting, where you are uncomfortable at first just having to do it, it gets better over time. And just like in-person therapy, the onus is on your therapist to make you comfortable.
Relationship building is key for therapy and your therapist will work just as hard online to build make sure your relationship is full of trust and support. They work hard to communicate that in any setting, including online. They also will continually check in with you about the effectiveness of the sessions, whether online or in-person, to make sure therapy is progressing in an effective way.
Myth 3 – Online therapy is not confidential and safe.
Over the last few years, as Online Therapy has become more and more prevalent, ethics and licensing boards have begun to put rules and guidelines around the platforms used for Online Therapy. And one of them is that they are HIPAA compliant and meet certain regulations and standards. The Online Therapy platforms that most therapists use the latest in online security protocols and have agreements in place to keep your information safe and secure.
Mathews Counseling Online Therapy sessions do not require you to enter any of your personal information, login to any system, or download a separate app. So your information stays with you.
On your end, it is your responsibility to make sure your online sessions happen in a room where only you will be present, not in a public space or on an unsecured internet network.
Sessions are never recorded and therapists conduct their online sessions from a private and secure location.
Myth 4 – Online Therapy cost more money than In-Person Therapy
Online Therapy actually costs exactly the same as in-person therapy. Session fees for Online Therapy are the same as In-Person Therapy.
If you are utilizing you’re insurance for therapy, your co-pay will generally be the same as an in-person session. While various plans may have different coverage, insurance companies are generally expanding Telehealth benefits more and more.
Myth 5 – It’s harder to work on “real issues” in online sessions
At Mathews Counseling, we have not found this to be the case. In fact, Online Therapy often allows the therapist and client to focus more and hone in on “issues” faster and at a greater depth.
It may require a different set of skills from our therapists, but they have grown more and more effective at creating a safe and honest online atmosphere that allows clients to share in a similar way to in-person. As one therapist put it, “Whether you are at home or in the office if you are comfortable in your surroundings you are more likely to open up.”
Since online therapy still allows your therapist to see you visually and read your body language and non-verbals, experienced therapists can pick up on things that need further attention.
Myth 4 – It is easier to be distracted during online sessions
Again, just as in-person sessions, your online therapy session will be as focused as you want it to be.
In-person therapy sessions are often interrupted by un-silenced cell phones, that stressful work email you got right before you walked in, or the bird that flew into your therapist’s office window*.
A few simple steps on your end can help with this. Make sure you are in a private space, where you will have minimal interruptions. If your pets would be distracting, put them in the other room during your session. If other people live in your home it may be important to let them know how they could support you with the space and time you need, or help you find alternative solutions.
And as always, whether in person or online, silence those devices.
Myth 6 – You need really fancy devices to have an online session.
While ‘fancy’ devices help, you really only need a device with a camera, a decent Wi-Fi connection, and, preferably headphones.
Your device does not have to be the newest by any means. Most computers, tablets, and phones within the last 10 years have the capacity to have a quality video call. If you have FaceTimed, Skyped, or video called in any capacity, you have a device that works.
While it is true that a good, fast Wi-Fi connection is helpful, we can work with you with what you have. If you watch Netflix on your home internet Wi-Fi, you are good to go.
And while they are not required, headphones decrease audio feedback on the call and make sure you and your therapist are not interrupting each other or constantly saying, “No, you go ahead!” back and forth.
Myth 7: Online therapists are not as experienced as face to face therapists.
This is a good concern to have about your therapist, no matter if you are seeing them face to face or not. You should be concerned about your therapist’s credentials and qualifications. But remember, no matter whether you are seeing them online or in-person, their credentials and qualifications should be easy to find. Any legitimate therapist has their information posted online in their bios, on their website, on their LinkedIn or Psychology Today profile. If this info is hard for you to find, your therapist is not doing their job right.
At Mathews Counseling, all of our therapists are highly qualified with a minimum of a Master’s degree in a mental health field, licensed by a state board, and experienced in the areas listed on their bios.
We are sure there are a number of other questions you may have with regards to online therapy sessions and we are happy to answer any of them.