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Kathy Marshack News

Is Online Therapy Right for You? Examine the Pros and Cons

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Online therapy with Dr Kathy MarshackHave you been wishing you could take advantage of therapy but your circumstances make it challenging? Perhaps you live in a rural area, or you’re nervous to drive in downtown traffic, or you’ve moved to another country. With the use of new technology, there really isn’t any reason why you can’t work with a qualified psychologist. Why? Because you can now meet with your therapist online – some call this web counseling, e-therapy or e-counseling.

Online therapy is a relatively new method for providing psychological support. Your mental health professional will use secure sources for providing video conferencing, online chats, emails or Internet phone calls. Is online therapy for you? Well, let’s consider some of the pro and cons…

Pros for Online Therapy

Online therapy is very accessible.
Online therapy is only the click of a mouse away. As I mentioned earlier, this can be especially helpful for those who live in rural areas, are living out of the country, or have physical disabilities, social phobias, or anxiety disorders that makes it difficult to travel to a physical office. Parents – it’s also a good way for making your teens feel comfortable with therapy because they’re so comfortable with the Internet.

Online therapy is convenient. Online therapy gives you more flexibility in scheduling your appointment. It can also save you time since there’s no commute time involved. Checking in by email can give you more access to accountability and support.

Online therapy may be more affordable. Online therapy may be more economical for both the therapist and the client. For example, your therapist may be able to avoid costly office expenses (rent, overhead costs, commute, etc) and you save on commute expenses.

Online therapy allows you to safeguard your privacy. When you do online therapy, you don’t have to worry about someone seeing you walk into a therapist’s office. For some, it might even be easier to open up when you aren’t having an in-person session.

Cons of Online Therapy

Online therapy may lack verbal and nonverbal cues.
Traditional therapy relies heavily of these cues to gauge what the client is feeling and for identifying incongruence between verbal and nonverbal behaviors. Video conferencing does facilitate communication, but it still may not be possible to read voice tone, facial expression, body language and eye contact quite as well as you could in-person. (My online therapy incorporates a HIPAA compliant software for video conferencing in our sessions.)

Online therapy may compromise your confidentiality and security. If you’re working with a conscientious and reputable therapist, they will openly reveal the ways they protect your confidentiality. So it’s good to question them about their security measures and how often they update their software. However, you also need to take responsibility to ensure that you’re protecting privacy on your end.

Online therapy isn’t for everyone
. If you’re a person who needs in-person therapy, this may not be the best fit for you. And because it’s harder to diagnose certain disorders, online therapy is currently deemed inappropriate for diagnosing some mental health issues.

Online therapy crashes when your Internet connection crashes. Some software may require a faster Internet speed than you have access to. Or if you’re not computer savvy, it may create anxiety for you. (The software I use is secure and easy to use. My assistant is proficient at walking new clients through the process.)

Also be aware that just because someone offers online therapy doesn’t mean they have the necessary credentials. The educational and training requirements to become an online therapist are exactly the same as they are for a therapist or counselor practicing in a traditional face-to-face setting. So do your homework and make sure your online therapist is qualified and licensed to practice where you live. (You can review my credentials here.)

I am now offering online therapy to clients who live in the states of Oregon or Washington, as well as expats living outside the United States. Please contact my office and schedule an appointment. If you live in one of the other 48 states, you may be able to schedule online education. (Due to licensing restrictions online counseling is unavailable to you.)



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