What is the effectiveness of online therapy?
Since the pandemic, so many jobs have turned from in-person to work from home… therapy included! Now that a lot of the world has opened up and returned to working in-person, you may be wondering if it is better to seek therapy in-person or online. Is online therapy as effective as in-person anyways?
Turns out, research has shown that yes, it very much is. One meta study looked at 64 studies comparing online to in-person therapy involving over 9,000 clients seeking therapy for anxiety and depression. They found that the effectiveness of online therapy was no different than in-person therapy.
In fact one study showed that online therapy might be MORE effective for people age 19-39. This may be partly due to a familiarity and comfort with technology. It also may be due to the anonymity and privacy that online therapy provides. It can be difficult at first to open up and be vulnerable with a stranger.
Some people may feel more reserved and closed off going into a therapy office compared to seeing someone in the comfort of their own home. When someone sees a therapist at home, they have more control over their immediate environment, and it turns out might end up being more open in their session.
4 Factors To Consider When Deciding If Online Therapy is Right For You
Ok, so you might be thinking, that’s great online therapy is just as effective as in-person therapy, but is it the right choice for me? Here are some factors that might be helpful to consider.
An important factor to consider is do you have a private space in your home where you can see yourself sharing details about your life? I think this might be one of the most important factors. If you live in a busy home, where it is likely that you will be disturbed, or might be worried about others over hearing you, online therapy might not be the best fit.
Do I see myself being more open at home or in-person?
This relates to privacy and the important finding from that study. Do you see yourself being more open at home or in-person? If you sense that you would be more likely to open up from the comfort of your home, then online therapy might be a better fit for you
This might be an obvious one, but still important to consider. If you use your internet connection for Zoom calls and streaming services like Netflix you should be good to go for online therapy! Of course, if you don’t have a strong internet connection there are ways around this… maybe you talk to your therapist over the phone and mute your video call so you can still see them.
Will I be more likely to attend regularly if it is online?
Therapy has the greatest chance of success when it is attended regularly. An important question to ask yourself is do I have time to commute into a therapy office? If doing online therapy would make it more likely that you will attend regularly then this might be a better fit for you.
You are not struggling with psychosis
Research has shown that in-person therapy is more effective than online therapy for those struggling with psychosis. This may be that individuals struggling with psychosis find it difficult to connect with a therapist through a screen. If this is something you are struggling with, then in-person therapy is probably the best option.
Do what feels right to you!
Overall online therapy and in-person therapy are equally effective for treating anxiety and depression. I would suggest trying out what feels right to you. If you are someone that prefers seeing someone in-person, and there is a therapy practice close to you that you are likely to attend, then go for it!
If you are someone that likes the idea of being open to a therapist in your own personal space, and would find it challenging commuting into an office regularly, then try out online. Either way, you can always switch if it turns out that it’s not the right fit for you.