The whole world is going through a mental health crisis, that not only destroys health but threatens lives as well. Mental illness and addiction problems have become a common issue around the globe. More and more people are opting for counseling online or enrolling in corporate wellness programs to help them deal with their mental problems. However, it’s still something that most people do not have a true understanding of. They simply do not realize how serious and damaging the crisis is on all levels.
Pros and Cons of Online Counseling vs. Offline Counseling
As per the World Health Organization, around 450 million people struggle with mental health problems, making it one of the leading causes of disability the world over. In Canada, mental illness affects more than 6.7 million people. One in two Canadians suffers or had opted for some form of grief counseling by the time they reach the age of 40 years.
In Canada, mental illness is known to be the leading cause of disability that prevents almost 500,000 Canadians from going to work each week. To highlight the importance of mental illness and seeking therapy online or offline, here, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of online counseling and offline counseling.
Online Counseling – Advantages and Disadvantages
As more people prefer smartphones and computers over the traditional form of counseling, mental health professionals have now started discussing the pros and cons of counseling online and offline.
Online counseling is not trying to replace the traditional form of therapy but is a better option for millions of people who like to go through counseling from the comfort of their homes.
Advantages of Online Counseling
- Saves Money
Traditional therapy can cost anywhere from $75 to 150 for a 45 to 60 minutes session. While on the other hand, online counsellors charge much lower for a week for unlimited counseling sessions.
- Frequent Communication with Online Counselor
Online counseling live sessions allow patients to chat with their therapist’s multiple times a day – they do not have to wait for a week to meet up with their therapists. This is helpful for people who require extra care and attention.
Online therapy can be as simple as sending out a text message to the psychologist. It’s easy, and you do not have to change your schedule. Mental counseling online is helpful and convenient for many because there’s no commuting. With texting therapy, people do not have to even schedule a session, which makes it simple.
- Patients Can Express Themselves in Many Ways
Talking is not the only way to express one’s feeling and thinking. With online therapy, patients can use texting, video, audio, and other different ways to communicate with their therapist in real-time. One could also use a combination of all these mediums to interact with their doctor.
- Great Option for People with Social Anxiety
Not everyone is comfortable meeting people face-to-face, and that’s when counseling online is a good option. By using different online mediums, you do not have to personally meet the psychologist or directly look them in the eye when talking about sensitive issues.
- More Selection of Therapists
When it comes to online counseling, you have a greater selection of therapists to choose from. This allows you to find the best ones suited for your needs. With online therapy, you’re not limited to choosing a therapist from your immediate geographic area.
Another advantage of counseling online is that it offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to scheduling sessions. You do not have to worry about rushing for your session or missing your entire therapy due to traffic or an accident that happened on the highway.
- Healthy Boundaries are Maintained
Online mental counseling ensures that there are no boundaries crossed when it comes to the patient-counselor relationship. Having a dual relationship, such as personal or business etcetera with your therapist, can sometimes be problematic. Hence, with online counseling, you can avoid these issues and be much open with your therapist.
- Helps to Bridge Distances
Sometimes when there are couples or families going through counseling, there is often the problem of scheduling the session as one or more people in the group may be out of town or traveling. Hence, online relationship counseling is a great option to help individuals in the group attend their regular therapeutic sessions.
Disadvantages of Online Therapy
Though online therapy has its advantages, it also comes with its set of disadvantages as well.
Here are some of the disadvantages of online counseling:
Some People Need That Face-to-Face Interaction
There are some people who prefer face-to-face interaction with their therapist. They require vocal tone and body language to communicate effectively. Also, some people just cannot adjust to online counseling and prefer the traditional form of therapy to deal with their mental illness. They find it more effective than online therapy.
Online Therapy Is Not Enough for Severe Mental Health Problems
When it comes to severe mental health issues, people need that extra in-person counseling that is not possible with online counseling live sessions. Online therapy can be a great supplemental resource for these types of people, but it definitely cannot be the only way to help them.
Lack of Concentration
It’s important to sit in a quiet room when you talk to your therapist. You need a dedicated place and time to meet up online to discuss your problems. With online therapy, there is a possibility of distraction from family members or kids which is not helpful at all.
Reliable Internet Connection
Another necessity when going through online counseling is the need for a high-speed internet connection. If your internet fails through the session, it can be quite distracting, and one could lose interest or concentration to start all over again.
Offline Counseling – Advantages and Disadvantages
Though online counseling has a lot of advantages, offline counseling or traditional therapy has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Some of them are as follows:
Advantages of Offline Counseling
With offline counseling, there is an opportunity to interact with your therapist in person. When you visit your therapist face-to-face, you not only process all your emotions, but you also learn new communication skills as well. ASome people prefer talking to their doctor personally rather than interacting with them through a video call.
Important for People with Serious Mental Illness
All cases of mental illness are not the same, and some people require extra attention. Sometimes online therapy cannot be the only way to deal with the ones who suffer from severe mental health problems and meeting up with a therapist in person is highly recommended. This is important, so that issues like causing harm to oneself or others, suicide etcetera can be avoided.
Therapeutic relationships are based on trust, which is easier to build when you meet your counselor in person. Building trust in someone could be harder to achieve with online counseling.
When it comes to insurance coverage for mental illnesses, insurance providers are more likely to cover you for offline therapy than online counseling. However, it’s important that you understand your insurance policy and be aware of costs.
No Hassle About Technology
Since you will be meeting your counselor in person, you do not have to worry about internet connections or other technology problems coming in the way of your online counseling live sessions. Also, with offline therapy, you can focus and concentrate better without any distractions or interruptions.
Disadvantages of Offline Counseling
As mentioned earlier, offline counseling can be a very expensive affair. Sometimes the cost can even go past $200/session in some cities, and this cost is not covered in insurance.
Commuting and Scheduling Sessions Can Be a Problem
Sometimes appointments and commuting can be a real hassle when it comes to in-office therapy. You may have to ask your boss for time off to attend a session, and if a reason is asked, you may not be comfortable telling it’s for therapy. Commuting from one place to another comes with a cost of its own, and this could take you an extra two to three hours more of your day if there isn’t any psychological counselor nearby.
Wait a Long Time to Start Therapy
Let’s say you’ve found a counselor in your area who is the perfect fit. However, the problem is that she’s unable to take new clients as she’s booked for months. Waiting can sometimes feel like forever, especially if you’re in the middle of a severe mental health crisis and need help immediately.
Not Comfortable Talking
If you’re someone who doesn’t like to express your feelings and emotions in a person, then offline therapy is not for you – you may be comfortable going in for online therapy instead. Also, those who are reluctant to try therapy may find it uncomfortable to visit an office for a therapy session.
Offline counseling does not offer you the flexibility or convenience that online therapy does. Sometimes it can be really hard to get an appointment that suits you. With offline counseling, most times, you would have to adjust to the availability of the counselor, and this could cause a lot of problems if you have work appointments or meetings to attend.
Both online counseling and offline counseling comes with their set of advantages and disadvantages. Hence, it’s important to see what suits you best when you start looking out for a therapist for your mental illness.