Does online therapy work?

Those of us who are new to therapy, or perhaps not new to therapy but new to the concept of doing therapy online, may have some simple, reasonable questions: Does online therapy work? And how does it work? 

Consider reading this article published by the American Psychological Association, which we think summarizes a lot of the issues really well. “Research studies, many of which are listed in bibliography format by the Telemental Health Institute…indicate that telemental health [online therapy] is equivalent to face-to-face care in various settings and an acceptable alternative.” “Even more encouraging,” the article goes on to state, “is that when digital interventions are positive, effective experiences for patients, they may go on to seek face-to-face therapy, says Megan Jones, PsyD, adjunct clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine.” Online therapy “can really be a nice first step in treatment for someone who needs more intensive therapy,” and in many cases clients receive excellent ongoing care for a variety of issues in the online formats.

The article does suggest some appropriate limits to online therapy: “Of course, online care is not for every patient or practitioner. Clients with more serious mental illnesses or addictions likely need more treatment than digital therapy can provide.”

As far as the question, How does online therapy work?—it is fairly simple, and anyone with a stable internet connection and a screen can receive effective therapy this way. For online clients, we ask that you sign a form giving consent to receive online therapy, and then we would proceed to let you know how to use our secure online interface. Increasingly, insurance companies are covering online therapy.

As you think about navigating online therapy as a client, here is a link with some really helpful information about how to set up your space and your computer or device.

Photos: Susan M. Doak, LPC, owner and therapist at Newberg Counseling & Wellness, in her traditional office and online therapy environment!

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