Online vs. Conventional Therapy

Posted by Frank Gillespie MA

What is online therapy?

Online therapy is a new way to meet with your therapist. Virtual therapy, also known as e-therapy, e-counseling, teletherapy or cyber-counseling, is a relatively new development in mental health in which a therapist or counselor provides psychological support or advice over the Internet. This can occur through e-mail, video conferencing, online chat, or Internet phone. Online therapy can occur in real-time, such as in phone conversations and online chat rooms, or in a time-delayed format, such as through e-mail messages.

I need therapy: when to choose online therapy?

Online mental health counseling is the new smart way to deal with issues. It is increasingly becoming the medium of choice for:

    • Busy professionals who travel a lot.


    • People in remote locations or rural areas where it is difficult to find a therapist.


    • People who are housebound for whatever reason.


    • In any situation where confidentiality is a problem.


    • People who make a choice that online therapy is better suited to their needs.


There are some cases though in which you may consider not using online therapy:

    • You must be at least 18 years old to engage in online counseling


    • You must not be suicidal or a threat to others


    • You have serious thoughts of hurting yourself or others


    • You have a chronic mental illness requiring intense treatment


    • You prefer face-to-face therapy and it is available to you


    • You are uncomfortable with computers and keyboards


Meet your virtual therapist: how does online therapy work?

Internet makes it much easier to find a licensed professional counselor or psychologist online when you need mental help. After applying for online counseling sessions, primarily the therapist diagnoses the difficulties of patients. After diagnosing the situation and gaining details about their past medical history, he or she suggests therapies. The duration of the online counseling program and the number of sessions needed may vary according to the type of mental problem, the kind of treatment and other individual factors of the patient. Normally, the duration of each session varies too. Sometimes, it occurs that some therapies show results instantaneously and some take considerable time period for the online therapy user. Reason being, factors like age of person, his/her all-around health condition, etc play significant role in determining process of recovery of the patient. The therapy sessions can be given in various forms like via e-mail, video conferencing, online chat, telephone, etc. depending upon the health problem.

Advantages of online therapy

    • Convenience: Even in urban environments where psychologists abound, cost, transportation and time constraints often prevent people from seeking mental health services. With e- therapy you can easily talk to someone online from the comfort of your home or office or wherever you choose.


    • Flexibility: you can arrange appointments much easier with online counselors because you don’t have to adapt to working hours


    • High cost-effectiveness: this is not only because the counselling sessions are cheaper than face-to face therapy but also online counselling removes traveling and other associated costs


    • No geographical barriers: online therapy is one of the most useful therapy tools, especially for clients who are located in rural areas or who are struggling with physical health or mental health challenges that make leaving home difficult.


    • Privacy: although there is no shame in asking for professional help there might be situations when you would like to keep it in private. There are several health issues which are ideal for seeking online consultation if confidentiality is a problem (e.g. sexual problems, marriage counseling, depression etc.)


    • Enhances psychological services by allowing counselors to support clients between visits.


    • Online therapy is often different to conventional thereapy in the fact that many online counselors allow contact between sessions via email or phone, making the experience much more intense.


Is online therapy effective?

Online mental therapy is just as efficient as conventional therapy. A number of problems can be discussed with your mental therapist online including anxiety, depression, panic disorder, anger management, sexual problems, work-life balance, relationship problems, marriage problems, self-esteem issues, job dissatisfaction, speech or language difficulties and much more. Online therapy can be at least equally effective as traditional therapy in terms of successful outcomes and problem resolution: publications examining the use of video therapy to deliver patient interventions showed high patient satisfaction, moderate to high clinician satisfaction and positive clinical outcomes.


Online counseling services are still new, and do raise some legitimate concerns. At PsychNook, we want to address these concerns so you can get the help you need conveniently, affordably, and most important; safely. Our therapists and psychologists are committed to safeguarding and protecting your personal information, including health information about you. There are limits to your confidentiality and privacy. Law requires therapists report to the local Department of Social Services or the police any evidence of a child being abused or neglected and attempted suicide or murder. In the rare event therapists would be subpoenaed by a court of law to produce your confidential records. (Note: the same would be true in face-to-face therapy)

Advice for your privacy

To protect your privacy, be prudent in how you store treatment-related emails and chat room transcripts. Make sure they are protected from unauthorized access by using and guarding your passwords. Consider deleting any emails (sent or received) or chat transcripts that you do not want others to see, followed by emptying your trash or recycle bins. If you make hard copies of emails or chat transcripts, store them securely. Be aware that emails sent from a workplace computer are the property of the employer.

Frank Gillespie MA

Frank Gillespie has a Master's Degree in Counseling from LaSalle University in Philadelphia. He is a nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). He has provided therapy for over 23 years. During his career, he has helped more than 10,000 people move past their obstacles towards reaching their potential and fulfillment in their lives. He practices Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with a warm and nurturing approach. In addition to being a therapist, Frank has been an adjunct college professor teaching social work, a clinical consultant, a clinical director, and a seminar speaker. Frank has recently retired from his full time practice to focus on a part time online practice. He is married. He enjoys listening to music, watching sports, power walking, swimming, reading and writing.


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