Is Online Therapy for Teens a Viable Solution?
The need for mental and behavioral health services among adolescents is high. If left untreated, even the symptoms of behavioral or mental disorders that drop over time are more likely to return. In the light of these statistics, it is imperative to pay attention to your teen’s mental health and seek the relevant therapeutic solutions whenever necessary.
Studies suggest that the 12-month prevalence of mental disorders among patients aged 13 to 17 is 40.3 percent. Furthermore, teenagers experience high rates of recurrence. Online therapies are a widely-studied and efficacious treatment for various behavioral and mental health conditions among adolescents. But are they a viable solution?
What’s online therapy?
Also known as e-therapy, telepsychology, or internet counseling, online therapy allows patients to meet with a professional therapist in a virtual or online setting as opposed to face-to-face meetings in a psychologist’s office. The therapist may communicate through a mobile app, specific website, text message, or email. Online therapy for teens can also be done through a video chat.
There are many online therapy programs, but all share similar features. These programs are offered along with human coaching. This makes the therapy sessions more efficacious than self-guided programs.
Several studies have found that adolescents are more receptive to working with a therapist using computer-based therapy. A 2016 study of adolescents in Australia shows that 72 percent of teenagers said that they would enroll for online therapy if they were battling a mental health issue. 32 percent of the study participants revealed that they would prefer online therapy over face-to-face meetings.
In another study done in 2015, adolescent participants said that they would prefer e-therapy for discussing sexuality and other sensitive issues.
Benefits of e-therapy
There are many reasons you may want to consider e-therapy for your teenager as opposed to traditional therapy. The potential benefits of online therapy include;
Patients often wonder about patient-therapist data protection in a traditional therapy setting. E-therapy follows the regulations of the Federal Council of Psychology. In other words, your data and conversations between you and the therapist will be secure through encryption. No one will need to know that you’re undergoing therapy. With online therapy care, the patient can carry out the sessions from a location of your choosing.
People who have already undergone face-to-face psychological counseling may have noticed that it takes time to travel to and from a therapist’s office. The client should be at the office before the session starts, and for that, the patient will be spending time in traffic.
With e-therapy, you no longer need to travel long distances. All you need to do is to schedule a therapy session at the best time for you and your therapist. During the session, each of you needs to connect to the internet, and that’s all.
For therapy to flow seamlessly, a patient should feel at ease, and for that, there is nothing more comfortable than your favorite spot. Whether you are on a trip or office, you can easily attend your therapy sessions more productively.
Most therapists charge less for online therapy sessions because e-therapy sessions have few overhead costs. The therapist may not need to pay staff members, rent office space, and other expenses.
Potential limitations of only therapy
There are some drawbacks a parent should consider before enrolling an adolescent in online therapy. Some of these disadvantages include;
Technology-related challenges: If your internet connection goes down, the chances are that you won’t connect with the therapist. Cybersecurity threats could also be an issue.
Medical insurance may not cover e-therapy services: Though your insurer may cover the cost of in-person treatment services, you may lack coverage for telehealth.
Boundaries might get blurred: Sending text messages or chatting online may cause your teenager to think of the therapist as more of a friend than a professional. Such confusion could mean that the treatment will not be effective.
If you’re planning to enroll your teen in online therapy, first, talk to the child’s doctor. He or she should rule out the underlying health problems that might be causing the mental health issues. The doctor can also advise you about whether online therapy will be an effective solution.