I’ve been in therapy since I was a teenager. It was overwhelming and scary to sit there and talk to a virtual stranger about my problems with anxiety. I used the word “virtual” on purpose. The title of this article is about virtual therapy. This means that people receive therapy through Skype or the Internet. I find this to be a particularly burgeoning field from my empirical experience as a mental health advocate. I’ve participated in life coaching through Skype and the phone, which I consider to be a form of virtual therapy. I believe this modality can be particularly useful to people who don’t have access to a variety of treatment options because they live in a remote area.
There is stigma associated with virtual therapy. I’ve heard it criticized as “not real treatment” and some mental health professionals refuse to provide Skype sessions due to being “purists.” I disagree with this stance vehemently. Virtual therapy can be tremendously helpful to people who are in the midst of a depressive episode and cannot leave the house. It can also be helpful to the busy professional person who doesn’t necessarily have the opportunity to travel to an actual therapist’s office.
Places to get virtual therapy
One excellent resource for virtual or online therapy is BetterHelp. There are a variety of ways to connect with your therapist on this site. The therapists are all licensed and qualified to provide professional mental healthcare. Here are the methods that you will be able to use to contact your mental health professional:
- Messaging with your therapist - This can be useful for quick questions you may have about a challenging life situation or even in depth conversations.
- Chatting live with your therapist - using a live chat option, clients are able to talk to their therapist and discuss their problems. I feel that this would be the best option for me, since I happen to be a verbose person and I am able to articulate myself with words quite well, as you see from this article.
- Speaking over the phone with your counselor - Bringing it back to the 90’s when the phone was a predominant mode of communication, you are welcome to speak to your therapist over the phone. I miss talking on the phone a lot. I personally enjoy it, and if I were to use virtual therapy, I would most certainly choose this option.
- Video conferencing with your counselor - This is a fantastic option for people who are visually oriented. It helps to see a person’s face when you are discussing your life challenges. Having a video option allows a person to truly feel connected to their counselor
The efficacy of online therapy is something that some therapists debate. However, popular opinion is that it is helpful. In this article on Psychology Today by Dr. Luo questions if online therapy right for everyone. He states: “Since psychotherapy is variable, and the quality of psychotherapy is difficult to measure.” I would argue that the quality of any therapy (online or in person) is difficult to quantify or measure. The way that you know if therapy is helping you is contingent upon whether your life seems more manageable.
There is help out there for you, and it could be with a virtually-based therapist. The great thing about virtual therapy is that it incorporates different types of learners. We (as human beings) each process information differently. I happen to be an auditory learner, meaning I process information best when I hear told to me. Other people may be inclined to process information through doing, this would be considered kinesthetic learning. While others understand new information through a visual component. Then there are tactile learners, who need a “hands-on” approach. What I like about virtual therapy is that it incorporates most of the common learning styles. If you are visual you can use the video chat option or if you are auditory you can speak on the phone.
Virtual therapy is a great means of mental health treatment. I’d suggest giving it a try if you are open to it. It may be a great fit for you!