Online Therapy: Does It Actually Work?
“Online Therapy? Really?” Even though I’ve been practicing online therapy since 2010 I still get this response from people — even other therapists. Personally, I’m surprised that they’re surprised, given how common it has become over the last few years — not to mention all the benefits that it brings to the therapeutic process.
I've been specializing in online therapy for years now, and I have clients all over the world — from Denver, to Dusseldorf, to Dubai. I meet with people in the privacy of their own homes to help them dig deep, overcome self-limiting patterns, and make amazing new things happen in their lives. The therapy I do with clients online is virtually identical to the great work we do here at Growing Self in-person in our Denver offices. (Click here to learn more about our Positive, Productive and Effective Therapy Program.)
Here’s what I tell people who are curious about why I practice therapy online:
1) Online Therapy Works.
And that is not just my opinion. Over the last few years, as online counseling is becoming more commonly practiced, suspicious researchers have been poking at it to make sure that it’s effective. They are finding that:
- The effects of online therapy are longer lasting, and slightly more effective, than those of face-to-face therapy for treatment of depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 2013
- People have the same levels of satisfaction with online therapy as with face-to-face therapy, and online therapy is just as effective. American Psychiatric Association, 2007.
- People suffering from PTSD who received online therapy showed greater reduction of symptoms than people who had traditional, face-to-face counseling. Six months after treatment started, the online therapy group continued to have better results compared to the in-person therapy group. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2007
- There are fewer hospitalizations among veterans who met with their online therapists for therapy than through face-to-face therapy. Psychiatric Services, 2012
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
Founder & Clinical Director of Growing Self
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2. Online Therapy Has Advantages Over Traditional Therapy.
Therapy is not an event— it’s a process. As anyone knows who’s been through it, “being in therapy” is a very special time of life when you’re open to exploring yourself, making new connections, trying to do things a little differently, and ultimately making new choices. It’s like opening up for a period of time, rearranging the furniture in your interior landscape, and then zipping back up again to head forward on a shifted trajectory.
During the period of time that people are actively doing this hard work, they need support to keep moving forward. In my experience, people who are able to meet for therapy regularly seem to get far more out of the process than people who meet for therapy occasionally. The drumbeat of regular meetings provides consistent reinforcement that gives you traction against bad feelings, motivation to do the work, the space you need to process feelings, and the support you need to move through your change process swiftly.
But of course, for many people, regular meetings are just not realistic. Therapy takes time and so many people are tremendously busy, having the luxury of several hours every week to be introspective is simply not an option. I know that personally, having meetings where I have to get in the car and drive somewhere seems like a very big deal due to the amount of time involved. Offsite weekly meetings take a significant amount of time away from your work, your family, and your life. Particularly if it involves arranging for childcare. In contrast, doing online therapy slices through all the hassle, and leaves you with all the benefit.
Online therapy is also more private than therapy in the office, since you do it in the privacy of your own home. No one sees you going into the counseling office or coming out — not even the receptionist. And no one asks you where you're going in the middle of the day.
Furthermore, I think that it’s kind of jarring to move from “therapy session” to “real life.” A therapy session can be a vulnerable and deep experience. Having to pull yourself back together to walk out of the office, smile at a receptionist, stand in an elevator with strangers who wonder why you're teary, walk to your car and navigate traffic can be surprisingly hard, particularly if it was a raw-feeling session. To me it seems unfair somehow to ask people to open up and then pull it together so quickly.
With online therapy you get more time to stay in the experience. You can simply walk into the other room and close the door for 45 minutes while you have your session, then do some journaling, have some quiet time to reflect freshen up your mascara and THEN get back to your life — when you’re ready.
3. Travelers Need Online Therapy
And of course, there are also many people I work with who have to travel all over the place for their jobs. If we didn’t meet for therapy online, they would simply never have the opportunity to do the important work that they need to do on a consistent basis. I work with consultants, sales reps, and educators who are all over the place. I’ve seen the inside of hotel rooms from all over the country, and most of Europe. Note: Romania does not have awesome internet, and it’s truly a hassle to schedule online appointments from Australia.
4. Online Therapy is the Future Of Therapy.
I don’t know about you, but in the 90’s I was deeply suspicious of email. I thought, “WHY would anyone even use that?” I scoffed at the idea of cell phones. And at that time I was still actually in the habit of hand-writing checks and licking stamps to send off bills. I know. I’m that old. (And infinitely grateful for my husband for suggesting online bill pay, which I had never heard of).
My point is that, now, life is unimaginable without email, cell phone or online bill pay. The thought of fooling around with answering machines and stamp-licking feels as efficient as having to start a fire with a flint and a pile of wood shavings instead of a lighter. To me online therapy is one of those same things that felt slightly surreal in the beginning but now feels indispensable.
I’m not the only one — check out this NPR segment on Online Therapy.
5. Online Therapy is International
Another great thing about online therapy is that I'm able to meet with you no matter where in the world you are. Since I specialize in online therapy, many of my clients aren't even in Colorado. They live across the nation, and internationally. I have clients from Dusseldorf to Dubai, and meet with more than a few “location independent” Tech Nomads — and I love it.
6. Online Therapy is Not For Everyone.
I do think that online therapy is great. But I am also very sure that it’s not for everyone. There are many people who simply want to feel the “sacred space” of the therapy office and the intimacy that comes with an in-person meeting. And for people who want that, online therapy is not the right choice. If that is your truth, I am happy to report that I have wonderful therapists on my team who would love to meet with you in person at our Cherry Creek or Westminster locations.
There are also situations where it is better for you to work with someone in person as opposed to online. While online therapy is wonderful for people who are looking to gain self awareness and make positive changes in their lives, may not be the best choice for you if you are struggling with a mental illness — particularly if you live outside of Colorado. When we meet for our free consultation we can talk more about what's going on, what you're looking for, and then decide of online therapy is right for you.
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Is Online Therapy For YOU?
Some people are leery of the idea of meeting with me online… until they try it. If you're curious, click here to schedule your free consultation meeting with me and see for yourself whether it's a format that will work with you. And of course, if it's not, you can always meet with one of my talented team-mates at our Denver (Cherry Creek and Glendale Colorado) or Westminster Colorado locations.
Ready? Help yourself to the best day and time using our online calendar below, or call the office — 720-370-1800 —for personal assistance in scheduling. We answer 24/7.
Whether our encounters are on the phone, over email, in person, or via Skype, you created an environment where I feel comfortable, safe and valued. As a result, I learn to change the way I talk to myself and view the world, and gain the tools to “unstick” whenever I feel paralyzed. You helped me unearth happiness and contentment. It’s been a consistent driving force behind my personal discovery and growth.
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