Weighing the Benefits of Internet-Based Therapy

By: Robert Thomson

Whether you suffered a traumatic event or struggle daily with mental illness, therapy provides the key to personal insight and emotional healing unavailable through medication. However, therapy is a time-consuming commitment that often requires weekly attendance, potential travel and even weekly homework assignments if your counselor embraces a cognitive-behavioral approach. While therapy may be necessary to your well-being, it may not always fit in your life. Luckily, technological advances have enabled people to receive therapy without the stresses of office visits and limited schedules. It is east to get professional therapy online without sacrificing treatment efficacy. In fact, for many people, internet-based counseling may offer a more effective approach.

When you chose to get professional therapy online, you do not limit the quality of treatment you receive. If anything, you gain access to a better selection of counselors because you are not limited by geography. The therapeutic alliance is essential to treatment, and most of the first sessions with a therapist focus on determining whether the relationship will facilitate healing and progress. When searching for a professional who offers online services, you can include factors such as educational history, treatment modalities, age, gender, religious beliefs, nationality and even secondary languages. Internet-based therapists offer doctoral degrees, master's degrees, advanced certifications and specializations such as gay and lesbian issues, trauma studies, multicultural approaches and holistic healing. By considering these various characteristics and qualifications during your search, you can better your chances of a positive therapeutic alliance without wasted sessions.

Opponents of internet-based counseling argue that the intimacy of a therapy session fuels the healing process. In other words, without face-to-face interaction, therapy fails. While nonverbal communication is important as it both conveys messages and provides the therapist with important cues, it does not require in-person meetings. Technological advances allow you to get professional therapy and maintain these important face-to-face interactions. Live cameras and video chats permit online counseling to feel like in-person therapy even though the patient and practitioner may be hundreds of miles apart. While the majority of online counseling relies on text, these important developments help internet-based therapy better replicate its offline counterpart.

Many individuals opt to get professional therapy online because they have no other options. Internet-based therapy provides opportunities for one-on-one sessions as well as group meetings through chat rooms and message boards, opportunities that can be appreciated from the comfort of home. Because mental illness retains a public stigma, many people refuse to admit they need help. Online therapy helps individuals open up who otherwise would suffer in silence. Internet-based therapy is also affordable, especially if you lack health insurance. While specific cost depends on the individual therapist, many counselors offer sliding-scale payments and reduce rates for internet-based services. Online sessions can also be scheduled outside normal business hours and with less notice than traditional meetings.

While online therapy may not replace every aspect of traditional counseling, its benefits cannot be ignored. Maybe you experienced an unhelpful counseling in the past or a negative therapeutic experience. Or maybe it is too shameful to admit that you need help in the public arena. Either way, internet-based counseling remains a viable alternative that can break the ice and provide a path toward insight, awareness and confidence. A growing number of professional therapists, counselors and psychologists are offering their services online with the same knowledge, experience and expert advice available to their face-to-face clients. While online therapy may not be appropriate for everyone, especially if you suffer from severe psychiatric diagnoses or suicidal thoughts, many individuals can benefit from the support and empathy available online.

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Separating fact from fiction when it comes to how to get professional therapy online, Bob Andrews is inherently curious about psychology and how we perceive the world. When looking for good information he usually checks out the experts at www.liveperson.com/products-services/experts.

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