lonely tree on a sunlit grassy hill under clouds
lonely tree on a sunlit grassy hill under clouds

What is Online Therapy?    

Online therapy is often used as a term of reference for any counselling and psychotherapy services, including chat and email alternatives provided through an internet connection.

Online therapy is a service provided by many counsellors and psychotherapists that uses the internet to provide online therapy sessions, often using popular communication software such as Skype.

Therapy with webcams.

Any talk therapy can be accessed using webcams and microphones, such as CBT, solution-focused therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, and many more.

Online therapy sessions are becoming immensely popular. Especially in the pandemic, allowing people to talk to a therapist from anywhere in the world can help people access therapy while keeping themselves safe.

What problems is online therapy used for?

Many people frequently use it to find help and support for tackling emotional and behavioural problems. People use it for everything from anxiety issues like social anxiety and panic disorder to depression and eating disorders. Using modern technology to communicate over the internet is not for everyone, but it also has some unique qualities that can enhance the therapy experience for some people.

Typical advantages of having therapy online.

Anyone can have access to a therapist over the Internet; there is no restriction to any area, city, or country. It is accessible with computers or smartphones, or other internet-enabled devices. As long as you have access to the world wide web, you can find support for all kinds of problems at a push of a button.

You will often find more options concerning the availability and affordability of therapy sessions, so you can access counselling services in the morning or late evening if you are a shift worker. You will usually have more flexibility and choice using a therapy service that’s offered online.

Video and online therapy?

Video therapy sessions will allow some people a way to connect that feels like being there in person. This visible way of communication can almost reproduce face to face therapy sessions. Although it may be comparable, it is not a replacement.

For people who need the visual aspect when having therapy, it can be a good option for some people who cannot access therapy in person. For them, video is usually a better option than just using a microphone or chat when they have online psychotherapy and counselling sessions.

What about therapy only using a microphone?

Using sound only is a bit like closing your eyes. Some people find it helps them to access their thoughts and feelings. When there is less visual stimulation, there can be an easier connection to their emotional world.

If you close your eyes and shut out the exterior world, are you then paying more quality attention to your inner world? To your thoughts and fears, try it and see for yourself.

Using sound to talk to the therapist can help some people feel more relaxed and less self-conscious. Not being seen can help you feel more secure and more in tune with what is more important.

Using Skype for therapy

Skype has been a prevalent method of having therapy online. Millions of people trust it, and it has a good number of communication options. You can use video or use messaging, or use the voice-only choice without any webcam.

Skype encrypts voice and video communications; this provides a good grade of privacy. Many people want to use Skype when having therapy because they understand and trust the program.

https://Skype.com

Using Vsee for therapy

Vsee software uses encrypted and secure end to end communication protocols and is aimed telehealth market. Particularly aimed at the American markets that require hippa compliance. Find out more at https://vsee.com/

Using wire for therapy

Wire is a secure way of communicating that offers end to end encryption with a very secure setup.  It is available on several different devices and is probably the most secure option available today. https://wire.com

Telephone counselling

People have been using the telephone for counselling for many years, and it is still used today, but the cost of the call can be expensive if you use pay as you go, but it can be a good backup if the internet is not available.

With modern mobiles, you can use all kinds of software such as Skype and WhatsApp to talk to a counsellor.

Online chat counselling

Chat software can offer an instant shared experience using a mobile device or any computer. Using the keyboard, you can talk to a therapist or support worker right away.

Using chat has more confidentiality concerns because you cannot hear or see the person unless you are using a more secure service, such as signal. However, people still request it, and some therapists still provide online counselling with this method.

Online therapy with flexible appointments

Online therapy appointments can be more flexible when compared to going to a physical office space. You are not restricted to the normal nine to five workday limitations.

Just like this therapy service, many therapists working online also offer evening and weekend therapy sessions. Also, if you are living in a different country, the time difference can be an advantage to you, providing even more choices.

Hiding your identity when having therapy

People concerned about privacy can use the option to hide their identity and not let the therapist know who they are or where they live.

If you are well known or want to remain totally anonymous, you can, with some knowledge, protect your information with a throwaway email address, a VPN and prepaid payment cards.

The ideas provided here can help you keep your identity concealed.

Use a temporary email address.

Using a temporary throwaway email address will help you hide your online identity. Lots of people use them to avoid hackers and scammers when buying from online shops or when joining websites or forums. I have provided some examples of temporary email services.

The example websites show on this page are not affiliated or personally recommend by me. All links should not be seen as a personal endorsement.

https://www.mailinator.com/

https://maildrop.cc/

https://www.abine.com/index.html

https://www.guerrillamail.com/

Virtual private network (VPN)

A VPN helps protect your privacy, including your IP address and the country you are in.

You can use a free VPN service, but in my opinion, the speed can be restrictive, especially when using a program like Skype or wire to converse over the Internet, you get a better and faster service by paying a small monthly fee for the VPN to get the fastest speeds.

You can find many VPN’s; here are a few examples.

https://www.ipvanish.com/

https://www.goldenfrog.com/vyprvpn

https://www.expressvpn.com/

Anonymous online payments

Using a prepaid card helps you to hide your identity. You can use a prepaid card just like a debit or credit card. Some cards you load with money before using are good for keeping your identity concealed when paying for goods or services online. They are, in effect, throwaway card. Not traceable to you. Prepaid vouchers can be used in some instances to pay online.

Advantages and disadvantages of online therapy

Some of the advantages

  • It allows you to remain unseen while having therapy.
  • No need to use a physical office, so there is no need to travel.
  • Online therapy appointments offer evenings and weekends.
  • Stay in your home environment and feel safer.
  • People with physical disabilities can still get access to a therapist.
  • More therapists to choose from, more choice.
  • Often people find it less intimidating talking online in therapy.
  • Lots more options to talk to a therapist online, use a phone or computer or any device that uses the internet.
  • You can talk to a counsellor while parked up in your car.
  • You can connect from work or any place you have a connection.
  • No one has to know you are talking to a therapist.
  • It is physically safer for you.

Some of the disadvantages 

  • Online therapy can be unsuitable for people in crises or who have complex mental health issues such as schizophrenia.
  • You need to know how to use computers or smartphones.
  • You need to be able to keep your device secure.
  • Hardware can fail, ending the therapy session and leaving you unable to communicate.
  • There is always a possibility your device could be hacked or stolen, so you need to know how to encrypt your data.
  • It is not suitable for people who are suffering from constant suicidal thoughts without more available local backup.
  • Qualifications can be confusing and not relevant. Licencing is not needed in many countries, and a licence is not a guarantee of quality.
  • Slow internet connections can reduce or hinder the quality of voice or video service.

Confidentiality and security problems

People accessing online therapy do need to understand what they need to do to keep themselves secure when having therapy.

You need to understand that there is no total or completely safe way to use the internet. Even if all your equipment is up to date and protected, that still leaves one big security threat. That threat to your online security is you.

Opening spam emails or not updating your software can compromise your privacy. With all the good antivirus software and better anti-spam filters, the person behind the computer is becoming the easiest way to defeat any security.

Not always suitable for everyone

As with anything, it will not be suitable for everyone, but to find out you may have to try it. That’s why a free session will help you discover if it will help you. If you want to try online therapy and have any concerns, please ask, and I will do my best to answer.