As we are currently dealing with a global crisis and our usual routines and ways of life have been disrupted, anxiety and stress levels are surging. With orders to stay at home and maintain social distance, the feelings of isolation, depression, and overwhelm are also on the rise.
Taking care of your mental health is extremely important at this time and in some cases, getting additional support may be necessary.
Fortunately there are a lot of options out there for online support, counseling, and therapy to meet a variety of needs. There are apps and programs for those who prefer a more do-it-yourself approach and there are mental health practitioners offering online help and support through video conferencing, phone calls, text, and chat.
This post is for those of you who are considering reaching out for professional help and are unsure whether online therapy is right for you.
Here are some of the pros and cons of online therapy:
No travel time, no parking challenges, no traffic. Enough said.
Greater scheduling flexibility. For those with lots of demands and busy schedules, fitting an appointment into your schedule, along with travel time, may seem impossible. With the variety of online support options, you can work around your schedule with a bit more ease. Depending on what kind of service you use, you may even be able to get more immediate and/or frequent contact rather than the standard once a week therapy appointment.
Accessibility. For those with limited mobility or difficulties leaving the house due to physical or mental health challenges, or in times when you are required to stay at home due to a "stay at home" order, illness, or other responsibilities, online therapy makes support and treatment more accessible.
An alternative to traditional "talk therapy". If talking is not your preferred method of communication, text or chat services are available.
Affordability. Sometimes online support can be less expensive than traditional in-person therapy or even free, depending on the service.
Easy to use. The various platforms for video conferencing, text, or chat are often very user-friendly and easy to get started.
Non-verbal communication. Therapists rely on non-verbal communication such as eye contact, body language, and facial expressions to gain a more clear picture of your feelings, moods, and behaviors which helps build connection and understanding of what you’re going through. Similarly, you as a client can benefit from the therapist’s non-verbal communication that provides you with a feeling of being seen, heard, understood, and cared for, and it can help regulate your nervous system, providing feelings of calm, soothing, and stability. These benefits can be lost or more challenging to achieve through online methods of communication.
Privacy. For some people, it is really difficult to find a truly private place to have online sessions, particularly by phone or video conferencing. In order to get the most benefit out of online therapy, being in a private space that is free from distractions, interruptions, and where there is low risk of being overheard by others is essential. Some people prefer going in to an office to better insure privacy.
Technical difficulties. Although online technology is generally solid, there is always a risk for glitches, delays, frozen screens, internet or power outages, or poor sound and picture quality, which can be disruptive to an online session.
Crisis response. Remote treatment can make it more difficult to respond immediately and effectively to emergency situations, especially when you and your therapist are in vastly different locations.
Specific treatment needs. For some people, having face-to-face interaction is an important part of treatment. For instance, for those who are interested in developing greater social skills or overcoming social anxiety, online therapy may be a good place to start but a transition to in-person therapy may be recommended.
When we are pushed outside of our comfort zones we are given an opportunity to adapt and show resilience. Sometimes this means having the courage to try something new and different.
If you are struggling and in need of some additional support right now, finding help online is a great option to consider. You can weigh the pros and cons for yourself and look into the various resources out there to determine what will be the best option for you and your specific needs. Your mental health matters and even if online therapy doesn't seem ideal, it can offer you the support you need under these current circumstances.
**I am grateful to be able to provide online therapy through video conferencing to provide help, guidance, and support for California residents during this time.**
If you are interested in more support for anxiety, stress, depression, or self-esteem, feel free to contact me and we can set up a therapy appointment. I’m happy to help.
Call Melanie Lopes, MFT at 415-295-2940 or send me an email.