Teletherapy is seen as an inferior alternative to in-person therapy. But while it has some drawbacks, online therapy has plenty of pluses, too.
First the drawbacks: Some clients miss their therapist’s office, which they associate with safety and healing, said Jodi Aman, LCSW, a psychotherapist in Rochester, N.Y. Technical difficulties—from poor internet connections to visibility issues–can interrupt sessions. Finding a private, quiet space at home can be challenging.
Still, many people prefer teletherapy. As psychologist Regine Galanti, Ph.D, pointed out, the biggest myth about teletherapy is that it’s “a plan B approach.” Many of Galanti’s clients have been doing online sessions for years. Her teen clients, in particular, like attending therapy in their own space.
Teletherapy is also convenient. “[I]t removes time barriers for people to physically attend an appointment, which provides them greater opportunity for therapeutic services,” said Craig April, Ph.D, a psychologist in Los Angeles.
In other words, you don’t have to deal with time-consuming traffic jams. You can still see your therapist during a long, demanding workday. And you might not need childcare to attend a virtual session if your kids are old enough to occupy themselves (but not old enough to be home alone).
To enhance teletherapy, clinicians use various online tools. For example, Galanti uses Google docs to help clients keep track of home assignments and work collaboratively on them. Carlene MacMillian, MD, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and founder of Brooklyn Minds, uses online card games and Zoom’s whiteboard features with younger clients.
Numerous studies have found that teletherapy is effective for a wide range of concerns, including depression, bulimia, and PTSD, according to MacMillan. Galanti shared this link with additional research on teletherapy.
Teletherapy boasts a variety of benefits that are unique to virtual sessions. Here are four