Online counselling platforms have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, but many people wonder whether talking to a counsellor online can have the same life-changing effects as traditional face-to-face therapy. In this article, we’ll go over some of the pros and cons of receiving mental health services through an online platform. Read on to learn more about the great benefits and potential downfalls of online counselling.


The Pros


  • Online counselling is extremely accessible; all you need is a smartphone, tablet, or computer and an internet connection. For those with severe social anxiety, physical limitations, and other disabilities, this is a huge benefit of doing counseling online rather than in person. It’s also great for people who live in remote areas and don’t have counsellors nearby, as well as people who struggle to find transportation to a counsellor’s office.


  • Online counselling platforms tend to be much more affordable than traditional counselling sessions. Plus, some platforms offer financial assistance, and others accept insurance.


  • You can customize the counselling experience by switching therapists until you find one that you connect with, as well as choosing the stream (or streams) of communication you want to use to speak to your counsellor.


  • There are opportunities for daily check-ins with your counsellor on many platforms. One of the included services is the ability to send your counsellor messages at any time, with the guarantee that they will respond to you about once a day. This is a great way to stay on track, get questions answered, and receive additional help and suggestions between sessions.


  • The major online counselling platforms hire credentialed mental health professionals, so you don’t have to worry that you’re speaking with someone who doesn’t have any education or experience in the field of mental health counselling. Plus, a record of counsellor certifications is publicly available, so you can always do a quick Google search of your provider to see their qualifications for yourself.


  • Online counselling through live video chat is as effective as traditional counselling, according to various studies. What really makes a difference in the effectiveness of the counselling process is the commitment and effort that you put in!


The Cons


  • Online counselling is not always covered by insurance. Although online counselling does typically have lower rates than traditional counselling, most online counselling platforms do not accept insurance. Some do, however, and others offer financial assistance for those who qualify.


  • Since technology is inherently unreliable, you may run into technical difficulties during the counselling process. For example, you do run the risk of your internet connection going down or your device malfunctioning. Those who are unfamiliar with technology may also struggle to access and use online counselling platforms effectively.


  • Online counselling is not ideal for all mental health disorders, including some types of addiction. For example, studies have shown that online counselling isn’t effective for those living with gambling addiction. In addition, people experiencing internet addiction may benefit more from a traditional counselling setting. For a person working to recover from their addiction to the internet, having to use the internet to get support for their addiction simply isn’t ideal. Those with internet addiction may prefer to attend counselling sessions in person for this reason. You can find more information on internet addiction here.


  • Online counselling is not meant to handle crisis situations. In the event of a mental health crisis, it’s important that you be able to communicate with someone who can respond immediately. This may not always be the case when communicating through an online counselling platform.


  • Severe cases may require more support than can be given through online counselling. Those living with especially severe mental illness may need the additional help and support that in-person and even inpatient services can provide.


  • Aside from live video sessions, your counsellor can’t see your body language and facial expressions. Aside from what you say, how you say it and your accompanying body language play a part in how your counsellor chooses to respond to you. Your body language and facial expressions are a huge part of communication, so if you don’t do the live video sessions, your counsellor will be missing out on a lot of the information you’re communicating nonverbally.


The Bottom Line

Choosing between traditional counselling and online counselling is a personal decision, but knowing the pros and cons of your options can definitely help. Regardless of your choice, don’t hesitate to reach out and get help if you need it!