Under the Hood

Can Talking to a Therapist Online Replace Traditional Counseling?

online therapy
Can Talking to a Therapist Online Replace Traditional Counseling? Pixabay / rawpixel

Modern technology has expounded upon the way that people look at therapy. New discoveries in the realm of digital counseling have allowed people to develop relationships with therapists and counselors without actually having to leave the comfort of their own homes.

This has sparked some debate. Critics of online therapy say that there’s no way that speaking to a therapist over the internet could replace traditional counseling. Advocates of the digital practice, on the other hand, believe that it could.

Let’s discuss the possibility of online therapy being a viable replacement for counseling.

How Does Online Therapy Work?

Online therapy is quite a simple practice.

The majority of online therapists operate through a digital platform that allows them to connect with clients. Clients are able to schedule appointments through the platform, and therapists are able to store notes about their clients, view schedules, and update their profiles.

In most cases, therapists will connect with their clients through the use of video chat. This means that most online sessions require the use of a webcam to be conducted. However, some therapists make exceptions, offering their services via email, text message, or voice call.

Is Online Therapy a Viable Replacement?

There are a number of factors to consider when deciding whether or not online therapy could be a practical replacement for traditional counseling, and if it’s truly effective. Ultimately, the answer to this question depends on the individual who is interested in seeking treatment. 

One of the main arguments against online therapy is the fact that certain intimate, emotional and social cues may not be adequately communicated through a video chat. Therapy sessions often deal with the management of difficult, traumatic experiences, and it’s vital that a therapist is able to properly gauge and respond to their client’s level of comfort and emotion. 

This problem would be expounded for people who do not have access to a webcam. Attempting to communicate with a therapist via email or text message alone would be akin to reading a self-help book. While this can be a beneficial step for those seeking to manage mental health on their own, it would really be no replacement for traditional therapy.

In this sense, certain people may find that online therapy is inappropriate simply because they are not able to effectively communicate. However, not everyone needs therapy to help them work through traumatic illnesses.

Some people seek therapy for entirely different reasons, and in many cases, clients simply need someone to listen to them while they explore their own problems. Talking with a therapist can be a great way for people to understand themselves better, and a good therapist can reflect ideas and concepts back at their clients, offering advice when necessary.

In this case, it would not really matter if intimate emotional cues were observed. Some people find that they are able to assimilate information just fine through a conversation - be it over a video chat or a telephone. 

The bottom line is that online therapy will work well for some, and not for others. However, some people may find that online therapy is not just a replacement for conventional therapy: it provides an opportunity to seek therapy where there would otherwise be none. 

People who live in rural areas with no access to therapists, of which there are many, can now communicate with counselors over the internet. As can people struggling with disabilities, or people who are traveling. 

This suggests that, while online therapy may not be the end-all replacement for traditional counseling, it certainly has its benefits.

Conclusion

Online therapy is a very useful practice that can help people access therapy from across the globe. However, some critics have spoken out against it, claiming that it’s impossible to achieve the same level of intimacy as one would while speaking to a real therapist.

Ultimately, online therapy will work for some people, and will not work for others. The choice depends on the individual’s personal preference and their needs.

NOTE: This article is a contribution from our advertiser and do not necessarily represent the views of Medical Daily
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