Is Online Therapy Right for Me?

Feb 05, 2021 5:39 PM

Author: Jerilyn Stowe

Pros and Cons of E-Therapy

In December 2020, the National Alliance on Mental Illness updated its statistics on mental health in America. The organization reported that more than 51.5 million adults in this country—one in five—experienced mental illness in 2019. Around 13 million experienced serious mental illness.

Keep in mind, that was before COVID-19, national lockdowns, or widespread social distancing.

It may be a long time before we understand the full impact the pandemic has had on our mental health. But with a rise in overdose deaths and the widespread increase of anxiety among all populations, one thing seems sure: the pandemic isn’t helping.

The demand for mental health care is greater than ever. Mental health care providers have responded in kind, either switching partially or entirely to delivering virtual care to their patients. Online therapy, or e-therapy, is similar to any e-health visit: the patient simply logs in to a meeting on their computer or mobile device and speaks to the health care provider.

Although e-therapy has seen a significant spike in usage over the past nine months, some are still uncomfortable with the idea. Here are some pros and cons to think through if you or a loved one is considering e-therapy.

Benefits of e-therapy

It can be done from your home with no commute. Connecting with a health professional even when it’s challenging to leave your home is an incredible benefit. E-therapy is a great option for many patients who can’t make regular office visits, including people with mobility issues and those who live in rural areas.

You can’t get COVID-19 from someone on a Zoom call. Doing our best to avoid a global pandemic has become a top priority for everyone. But it has also led many people to delay important health-related appointments and procedures. Using e-therapy can help you take care of your mental health while looking after your physical health by sheltering in place.

It’s therapy. So many of us have considered seeing a therapist during the last nine months. But if you aren’t sure whether it’s right for you, consider trying e-therapy first. Choosing to schedule an appointment with a therapist for the first time can be daunting. We often talk ourselves out of it—battling our own stigmas against discussing mental health is often the first challenge we face. But if you can do it from your own home, what have you got to lose?

Downsides of e-therapy

It’s in your home. Although this can be a benefit, it has a downside, too. In order to get the most out of e-therapy, you must be in a private, quiet area, as free from distractions as possible.  

Technology can be frustrating. There are often tech problems on the first try with an e-health appointment, so make sure to give yourself plenty of extra time for your initial visit.

It is virtual. E-therapy isn’t appropriate for crisis circumstances or serious mental illnesses that require more direct interaction. If you or a loved one have an urgent or emergency need, please see the contacts at the end of this post and seek help immediately.

Insurance doesn’t always cover e-health visits. Although e-therapy is generally covered by insurance just like in-person therapy, some companies and plans will not cover e-health visits. It’s a good idea to check your plan before being seen for e-health.

It’s online. Although e-therapy sessions are covered by the same patient privacy laws as in-person—and providers are required to keep personal information private and confidential—these visits still take place on the internet. If you have doubts about online security and it’s a source of anxiety for you, then it may be best to stick to in-person meetings.

If you or a loved one is seeking help from a therapist, consider e-therapy. Even though it can be awkward at first, e-therapy can be an ideal way to connect with a mental health professional from the comfort of your own home.

A medical professional is always available to help if you have long bouts of depression or symptoms you just can’t shake. Contact Huntsman Mental Health Institute to get help or learn more, or reach out to these resources:

  • If you are feeling depressed, anxious, lonely or having a personal struggle and need someone to listen, call the Utah Warm Line at 801-587-1055.
  • If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, call the statewide Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255.

mental health