Technology has had a huge impact on various industries including counseling. The use of technology in counseling and psychotherapy is changing the face of therapy. It is taking the counseling industry by a storm. Mental health providers are either excited or challenged by the new opportunities and development brought by technology as far as counseling is concerned.
There are valid reasons as to why these practitioners may get worried. For example, whether there is any need to use the technology in counseling, how safe and effective it is, how it can be done ethically, etc. However, ignoring technology may also seem quite outrageous because it is becoming part and parcel of our daily lives.
Online therapy, also known as e-counseling, e-therapy, or teletherapy, is a new development in mental health whereby a therapist or counselor offers psychological advice and support online. It can happen via video conferencing, email, online chat, or phone.
Online therapy has some of the following benefits
It is convenient
Online therapy is very convenient because you attend sessions at the comfort of your home. You can also schedule your therapy sessions for times that you are comfortable and convenient with.
It is easily accessible for people with disabilities
Individuals with disabilities can easily access online therapy. Mobility can be such a significant issue when it comes to accessing mental health care. So people with physical or mental illness can find online therapy to be the best alternative.
While online therapy may have the above benefits, it also has some limitations that we cannot overlook.
Limitations of Online therapy
It has concerns about confidentiality and privacy
Online therapy has a major concern in keeping your personal information private. Confidentiality is equally important when it comes to online therapy, just as it is important to traditional therapy. Since information is being transmitted online, it makes privacy leaks and hacks major concern. Moreover, technology problems can also make it hard for you to receive treatment when you really need it.
Online therapists may not respond to crisis situations
Online therapists are far from the client so in case a crisis happens, it may be difficult to respond quickly and effectively. Again if a client has suffered a tragedy or is contemplating suicide, it can be difficult or impossible to provide direct or urgent assistance.
Some insurance covers don’t cover online therapy
When it comes to insurance coverage, some states don’t offer insurance coverage for online therapy. Paying for psychotherapy services from your pockets can be quite costly. So this makes it quite hard to access treatment from the internet.
Traditional counseling has benefits that are critical to the healing process of a patient. This is because the therapist can easily access the body language of his client, unlike in e-counseling where the therapist can miss important non-verbal cues. With traditional therapy, the therapist can also observe the client in person and evaluate the degree of risk and the best continuing course of action in case of an immediate crisis. And because there are limitations as mentioned here, traditional therapy still remain popular.
Even though e-counseling is growing rapidly, there is no doubt that traditional therapy will always be there because of its face to face approach. Talking face to face with a therapist makes it easy to express complex thoughts and emotions which might otherwise be difficult to write in words.