Just when we’re starting to warm up to the idea of in-person therapy, the increase in its online modalities since COVID-19 presents new concerns (1). Cybersecurity scares, technical annoyances, uncertified professionals - these worries about online therapy can indeed deter us from seeking help. And while these fears are valid, they only tell part of the story.
Let’s help you clear the air. As our lifestyles and careers become more homebound, online therapy can serve as a safe and viable alternative to keeping us mentally fit. So, here are some of the biggest myths about online therapy, along with facts to dispel them.
Online Therapy is the Future of Mental Health
Online therapy encompasses health services, including mental health, provided through digital platforms supported by an internet connection. Treatment and/or consults can be conducted through modalities such as video calls, phone calls, and real-time or asynchronous texts.
Virtual forms of therapy have been regarded as a qualified form of treatment. A study by Duffy and colleagues has proven that digital therapy is just as effective as in-person therapy (2). Their results show that their participants reported lower levels of anxiety and depression along with improved functioning.
And thanks to its effectiveness and demand, the digital health industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14% from 2023 to 2030 with a USD8.3million market size (3).
Debunking Five Myths About Online Therapy
Online therapy conquers issues of affordability, accessibility, and effectiveness when it comes to seeking treatment. Despite that, pervasive myths and misconceptions have stopped people from giving these digital solutions a shot. And we’re here to debunk them for you:
Myth 1: Online therapy doesn’t work as well as in-person therapy
Multiple studies have proven that online therapy can be as effective as in-person therapy (4). Various associations, including the American Mental Health Counselors Association (5), view digital therapy as an acceptable alternative to its face-to-face option. That’s because digital solutions provide us access to a wide range of treatment tools and modalities. This includes tech-mediated 1-1 sessions, online peer groups, digital assessments, CBT and mindfulness tools, and mood/symptom trackers.
Online therapy also enables time-sensitive support for emergency cases. Compared to driving to the clinic, it’s easier for someone in crisis mode to call a hotline, schedule a video/audio call, or text their counselor.
Myth 2: Online therapy lacks security
Of course, any online platform comes with its risks. That’s why most online platforms use encryption services to protect your data. Therapists are also strictly trained to prevent unconsented disclosure of patient information and history.
It is still important to continue taking your own security measures. This includes using a strong password even if you fully trust the platform you’re using. Use legitimate software and apps that reduce risks of privacy breach. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask your therapist about any security protocols in place to maintain confidentiality.
Myth 3: Online therapy lacks human connection
With virtual therapy, it may seem like you’ll be talking to an unhelpful bot or a faceless call center. But that’s far from the truth.
Through an online therapy platform like the ThoughtFullChat App, you get to connect to a therapist tailored to your needs. These therapists are trained to provide a safe virtual environment where you can open up without fear. So whether you’re more comfortable expressing your thoughts through text or verbally, online therapy can meet the preferences of every individual and generation.
Myth 4: Online therapists aren’t credible
Lost faith in online services with the rise in fake gurus and coaches online? We totally get it. However, we assure you that with some research and background checks, you can dial down the chances of getting scammed.
The internet today also makes it easier to scan through their accreditations and Linkedin profiles. Also make sure the organizations they’re part of are made up of board-certified professionals, psychologists, and counselors. For instance, we screen all professionals on our ThoughtFullChat network before taking them on. And don’t hesitate to ask your counselor about her education, licensing, or specialties. Whatever you need to know for peace of mind, it’s your right as the client to ask.
Myth 5: Online therapy is pricey and not insured
In-person therapy typically costs more than its virtual alternative. And that’s not including the costs of commuting. Many employers are also starting to provide online therapy as part of their benefits package.
While there’s still a long way to go when it comes to providing mental health coverage as part of insurance plans, things are changing for the better. Since the pandemic, U.S. Health and Human Services have mandated that any health care provider eligible to bill Medicare can bill for telehealth services. And in Malaysia, AIA will incorporate ThoughtFull’s end-to-end mental health services into its Corporate Solutions portfolio. This pushes for improved management of your emotional woes and unlocks new ways for people to proactively care for their mental health.
That said, online therapy does come with obstacles for those with limited internet or smartphone access. And fear mongering headlines about these digital alternatives may steer us away. But the industry is growing and strengthening. And we can’t deny that it has eased and expanded access to mental health care for many.
Providers like us have been able to tap into the power of technology to optimize treatment, increase safety, and enhance outcomes. So take your time to do your research and adjust to these new virtual systems. We will always be here to welcome you to a tailored and on-demand future of mental health care.
We’re Here to Help!
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