Pros and Cons of Online Chat Counseling and Therapy

By Jovana Dinić, OLI Integrative Psychodynamic Psychotherapist

Online Chat Counseling and Therapy is one of the newest in the field. Therapists around the world have been practicing it for almost two decades now, but there’s only a few studies and researches about it. Those researches show both benefits and limitations of Online Therapy. Here is a list of all pros and cons that have been proved:

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Pros:

  • Eliminates geographical barriers — Online Chat Therapy offers access for treatment to people in rural or remote areas.
  • Decreases social stigma — For those who are uncomfortable with receiving therapy. Online access makes it easier to overcome the stigma that has historically been attached to mental health issues (you won’t be seen by others in the waiting room, the administrative staff or any other person who just happens to be around at the time you walk through the door).
  • Starting point for Face-to-face therapy — Chat Therapy is a great introduction to face-to-face therapy on the road to longer-term treatment if needed.
  • Anonymity — The absence of face-to-face contact (you don’t even need to use your real name) helps clients to communicate more openly without concerns for bias of race, gender, age, size or physical appearance. This leads to an increased level of honesty. Chat Therapy offers a level of anonymity that no other treatment can give.
  • Decreases fear and shame — Due to a lack of fear and shame that Online Chat Therapy gives right from the beginning, it can be easier for some people to reveal private information when they’re sharing it online.
  • Convenience — Both the therapist and the client can communicate with each other at a range of variant times. This style of therapy can take away the hassle of scheduling and setting appointments in traditional ways.
  • Increases therapist’s time for more seasons — Online Chat Therapy requires 7.8 times less of a therapist’s time than face-to-face treatment, meaning therapists can treat more people online than they can in-person.
  • Benefits of the written form — Very suitable for clients who experience difficulty expressing themselves in words. Also, writing during times of distress is particularly useful for clients as it is proven to provide a vital avenue for emotional healing.
  • Benefits for healthy people — Online Therapy can also help healthy people become psychologically stronger. They can learn more about health behaviors and coping strategies that are very helpful in everyday struggles.
  • Affordability — Chat Counseling and Therapy is more economical for both therapist and the client.

Cons:

  • Difficult to intervene to Crisis Situations — It can be difficult for therapists to intervene in the event of a crisis. (suicidal thoughts, a personal tragedy etc.).
  • Absence of verbal and nonverbal cues — Without being able to interact face-to-face, therapists can miss out on facial expressions, vocal signals, body language and other cues but also the correlations between them.
  • Legal and Ethical Concerns — Therapists can treat clients from anywhere in the world, and many states have different licensing requirements and treatment guidelines. If a therapist does not know where the client is, it’s impossible for them to call for help in case of an emergency, such as suicidal threats.
  • Technological difficulties — Bad internet connection and trouble accessing chats aren’t conducive to treatment. A lack of client’s computer skills and knowledge may disrupt the session and can potentially be distressing for the client.

As you can see, Online Chat Counseling and Therapy has both its benefits and limitations. I want to make it clear that I don’t think that Chat Therapy is the future of psychotherapy. I would never be opposed to traditional face-to-face therapy in any single way. It’s obvious that nothing can replace its efficiency. My idea is to use the best out of Chat Therapy to help people who do not have any other option. In that case, we can increase global mental health even if the efficiency of the Chat therapy is 1%. And it’s already proven that it does much more. Yes, it’s that simple. If we treat people that have no other options, even that 1% is something that we definitely should not give up on.

I personally see a bright future for Online Chat Counseling and Therapy in treating teenagers and adolescents.

Read more about it — The Chance We Should Take

EverMind is a telemedicine platform that links people around the world with highly qualified psychotherapists from emerging nations.

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