Seeking therapy is a very important step in prioritizing your mental health and putting yourself first. Virtual therapy is a more convenient form of therapy, especially with the last couple of years we’ve experienced. Many people prefer virtual therapy to traditional therapy because of this convenience because it makes them feel more comfortable than talking to someone in-person about such personal elements of their lives. It also tends to be less expensive than traditional in-person therapy, which makes it more accessible to a wider variety of people. For whatever reason you may prefer or may be considering virtual therapy sessions, there are some things you need to know.
According to the American Psychological Association, it cannot be guaranteed that the person who is providing you therapy through the app you may be using actually has a license to do so.  This can be dangerous since an unlicensed individual is not trained in the skills and knowledge needed to provide helpful therapy sessions, especially with individuals who have more specific needs. Another concern is whether or not the app or website you’re using for your virtual therapy is secure. Traditional licensed therapists and psychiatrists have a confidentiality agreement with their patients, which ensures your information is not being shared outside of your therapy sessions. With virtual therapy, it is important for you to make sure the app or site you use is “HIPAA-compliant” and has “the ability to verify your identity and your therapist’s identity.”  Lastly, even though virtual therapy can be less expensive than traditional therapy, it is also less likely to be covered by your insurance. “Psychologists will often provide an invoice that you can submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. But online therapy or web therapy services are often not covered or reimbursable by most insurance providers.”  So, if you are relying on your insurance to cover the costs of your therapy, virtual therapy might not be the best choice for you.
Therapy is a critical part of self-care, and it’s even more important, now, with so many individuals around the world being met with unprecedented hardships. Virtual therapy does make things easier for some with its convenience, but there are also still some downsides to it compared to traditional in-person therapy. With whatever form of therapy you choose to pursue, it is important to make sure it is helping and not hurting your progress.
1. American Psychological Association. (2015). What you need to know before choosing online therapy. American Psychological Association.
Author: Lauryn Agron
Editor: Kayjah Taylor
Health scientist: Jonn’ea Williams