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8 Common Misconceptions About Online Therapy

Update Date: Feb 01, 2020 09:36 AM EST
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8 Common Misconceptions About Online Therapy
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Online therapy services have garnered a great deal of press and praise alike in recent years, with many turning to various web-based platforms as an alternative to traditional in-office therapy sessions.

Largely revered for its convenience and affordability, online therapy and counseling has empowered many to get the help they need regardless of personal conflicts such as finances, transportation, and timing.

As with any relatively new and popular advancement in technology, online therapy isn't without its skeptics. Is it as effective as seeing a therapist face-to-face? Are online therapists fully licensed and trustworthy? 

Will your information be kept safe? These are all valid questions posed by many who are considering online therapy for the first time, but aren't quite ready to make that commitment.

Here we'll discuss some of the most common misconceptions about online therapy, from cost to inclusiveness - and we'll debunk the biggest myths surrounding online counseling.

1. Online Therapy Is Just As Expensive As In-Office Therapy

While the cost of visiting an in-office therapist can run you anywhere from $75 to $200+ per hour depending on your insurance plan, online therapy offers a range of scaled payment options and convenient monthly membership fees.

In some cases, sliding pay scales can also be instituted depending on one's financial situation. Moreover, a number of sites offering peer support chats, downloadable materials, guided exercises, and one-on-one sessions with trained listeners are absolutely free.

2. Your Conversations Are Not Confidential

One would be well within their right to be wary of online transactions and the exchange of personal information in this age of frequent data leaks and cyber invasions. This naturally extends to entrusting an online therapist with extremely personal information.

That said, the good news is that all online therapists follow a strict code of doctor-patient confidentiality.  Additionally, online therapists are bound by the same laws and regulations as traditional in-office therapists.

All information obtained by your therapist site is safe and secure and is further protected from third party acquisition or interference.

3. Online Therapists Are Not Licensed & Certified

All verifiable online therapy services are required to list their therapists along with their credentials, and most will include extensive bios as well as reviews for prospective users to evaluate.

Any online therapist conducting official therapy sessions is required to be fully licensed, trained, and accredited. In cases where sites are either volunteer run or implement trained listeners, full disclaimers acknowledging that these are not licensed therapists will be made clear.

4. Therapy Must Be Conducted Face-To-Face

Many people are unable to visit an onsite therapist for a number of reasons. While limited funds, limited insurance, unreliable transportation, and scheduling challenges are among the most widely reported causes, anxiety and depression can also play a huge role in one's ability to seek and receive adequate mental health care in-person.

For those who are uncomfortable venturing out to a brick-and-mortar establishment, online therapy has opened numerous doors and possibilities.

While chat messenger, email, and phone are all viable options for speaking with one's online therapist, a video conference call is the most preferred method. This allows patients and therapists to speak in real time much as they would in an office setting - except you can do this from the comfort of your home.

5. Insurance Won't Cover The Cost Of Online Therapy

Even when it comes to in-office therapy, insurance companies are notoriously cagey, leaving many to foot the majority of the bill regardless of whether their treatment is in-person or otherwise.

While insurance companies have been slow to acknowledge online therapy as a valid and necessary route to mental health care, this is rapidly changing. Today most reputable online therapy services are supported by insurance providers, and will work directly with your provider to secure assistance.

6. Therapy Over The Internet Is Just A Fad

While the growing prevalence of online therapy has been a gradual incline, ultimately the numbers don't lie. In 2019 alone more Americans than ever sought alternative mental health services, and the steady rise in various therapy platforms has proven that the demand is only increasing.

Assistant director of psychological services at Boston-based telehealth company American Well Lindsay Henderson, PsyD is cited by the American Psychological Association as touting online therapy platforms for the way they "normalize mental health care, especially among generations now who are so accustomed to interacting with people using technology. It just eliminates so many barriers."

With more and more people turning to technological alternatives for everything from education, communication, shopping, and now mental health care, one would be hard pressed to accuse the online therapy model of being a passing trend.

7. The Online Model Makes It Easier To Neglect Your Sessions

Online therapy is no different from in-office therapy in that pre-scheduled appointments are expected to be honored at the agreed-upon time, with little variance in exceptions. Some online services even charge a fee or full rate for no-shows or cancellations without prior notice.

It's worth noting that ultimately those who are dedicated to their mode of therapy and targeted goals will make an effort, regardless of whether that involves an onsite therapist or online platform.

8. Online Therapy Is Only For Certain People

In the past decade the online therapy model has branched out to include all individuals, regardless of gender, race, faith, sexuality, or lifestyle. Today there are a multitude of online therapy sites dedicated to helping teens, couples, LGBTQ communities and many others.

Depression, anxiety, addiction, and trauma can occur in anyone, and online therapy has allowed those who were formerly shunned by the mental health system to get the help they need and deserve.

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