Online therapy brings the expertise of mental health professionals to the comfort of your home through phone calls, messages and video conferencing. Each online mental health service will vary in what they offer. For example, some services won't be able to diagnose or prescribe medication as a traditional therapy option could.
Online therapy isn't for everyone. But it's a good option for people who have inconsistent schedules, tight budgets or aren't comfortable meeting with a therapist face to face. Research has shown that virtual therapy can be as effective as in-office meetings for some.
Online therapy benefits:
- Virtual therapy is more affordable and accessible than traditional therapy options. However, not all platforms accept insurance.
- It's convenient. You can schedule your sessions around work, childcare or other life events that may get in the way.
- Being at your home when you're working in sessions can be more comfortable than going into an office.
Read more: Tips to Find the Right Therapist For You
Is online therapy secure?
Privacy is one of the most important concerns when seeking online therapy. The American Psychological Association provides specific guidelines that therapists should follow for virtual sessions. One of the most important guidelines states that all online therapy platforms must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Whether through video or chat or text, all communication is covered under HIPAA.
Some virtual counseling platforms take extra levels of precaution and allow you to delete messages after reading. It's important to read the privacy policies of each platform before signing up. This information is often found in the frequently asked questions section of the website.