Traditional, brick-and-mortar therapy is a wonderful thing, and can be incredibly healing when you are working through a mental health challenge. I personally benefited from ten years of brick-and-mortar therapy and recommend it highly. However, I’ve been in online therapy for almost three years, and have also fallen in love with the experience.
Both forms of therapy have their advantages. Studies have shown that both online and traditional therapy are effective at managing mental health struggles. And the beauty of it all is that it doesn’t have to be one or the other.
If you are already in traditional therapy, you can supplement with online therapy. If you are in online therapy, you might feel inspired to meet with an in-person therapist. Part of what makes an innovation like online therapy so exciting is that it offers choices and flexibility, along with optimal care.
Traditional Therapy vs. Online Therapy
Brick-and-mortar therapy can be an intensive experience. Speaking your truth and fears in the presence of someone else can be cleansing — an emotional release. When you meet in person, your therapist is also able to pick up on your body language, and there is constant back-and-forth between the two of you.
Many people wonder if online therapy could replicate this experience, what the differences are between the two modalities, and why you might want to add online therapy to your mental health care routine.
In my experience, online therapy is similar in many ways to in-person therapy. At Talkspace, you are able to choose your therapist based on their background and whether or not you “click” with them. Online therapists must have the same training, credentials, and expertise as in-person therapists — in fact, many work in traditional settings as well as online.
Much like traditional therapy, you can form strong and lasting relationships with your online therapist.Online therapists ask thought-provoking questions, offer insights, and most importantly, they provide a safe space for you to share your emotions, struggles, and experiences.
How Online Therapy Works
Talkspace allows users to interact with their therapist in more than one way: via audio message, video message, online messaging, or live video. This may take some time to get used to, but in the end, most users find the flexibility this offers to be a major advantage over brick-and-mortar therapy.
Imagine interacting with your therapist within the ebb and flow of your everyday life rather than waiting for those few minutes each week. You can connect with your therapist from the privacy of your own home…or when you are on-the-go and just need a quick check-in. You can also message them when you’re actually in a moment of distress rather than trying to recall that moment later in your session. Many people find that they are able to open up in new ways to a therapist when they can interact on their own time, and in a familiar, more comfortable environment.
Besides the fact that you can connect with your therapist anywhere, anytime, perhaps the biggest difference between online therapy and traditional therapy is that you will be interacting with your therapist five days a week – they’ll respond within a set time during business hours. Although some of us do meet with in-person therapists several times a week, the typical frequency is about once a week.
Daily check-ins with a therapist allow a more moment-by-moment interaction. In many ways, you will be able to go deeper into certain issues, because you can pause between questions your therapist asks and consider your response. Online therapists often feel like a “life-line” while you are out and about in the world.
How To Supplement With Talkspace
Many people come to online therapy after having been in brick-and-mortar therapy for several years. Some have never tried traditional therapy but have a positive online therapy experience, and decide to combine online therapy with seeing a therapist at their office. Others have just begun a relationship with an in-person therapist and want to see what other forms of therapy are out there.
Here are some scenarios where you might supplement online therapy with in-person care:
- If you are in the middle of a crisis and need daily, on-the-go check-ins with a mental health professional.
- If your existing care isn’t enough to keep you stable, and you feel that you would benefit from having a larger “team” available for you on a more immediate basis.
- If you need more sessions of therapy than your insurance company covers, and are looking for a cost-effective alternative.
- If you feel that you would like more than one perspective on a particular issue you are having.
- If you would like to try therapists who specialize in different therapy modalities or who have expertise on a specific mental health disorder.
- If you are interested in trying a new way to communicate with a therapist and are wondering if perhaps sharing your feelings via text message might allow you to open up in new ways.
- If you would like to talk to a therapist without revealing personal and confidential information about yourself, such as where you live or what you look like. Talkspace allows you to be 100% confidential, although you do have to provide emergency contact information, just to keep you safe.
- If you are considering switching to online therapy, but aren’t sure yet, and would like to try both before making a final decision.
Find What Works For You
The truth is, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to therapy. It’s really all about doing what works for you, even if that looks a little different than what works for someone else, or what you think therapy is “supposed” to look like.
We all need different things — and sometimes what we need changes. One of the amazing things about our modern age is that there are more options than ever when it comes to receiving therapeutic care. And, because both online and brick-and-mortar therapy offer high-quality, compassionate mental health care, you really can’t go wrong!