Can Working With a Therapist Online Be as Effective as Meeting In Person?
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In the digital age, technology allows you to do everything from ordering your groceries to earning an education. For many people, technology gives them access to the mental health support and resources they’ve been looking for.

The appropriateness of any treatment method, level or approach is dependent upon each individual’s symptom severity, presentation, current circumstances and other factors.

Read on to learn about the data that has been collected about online therapists versus in-person therapists. You’ll also learn how to determine which may be right for you. Then we’ll dive into how Lightfully Behavioral Health approaches in-person and online therapy.

Data showing efficacy of online therapists versus in-person therapists

The good news is that there is research and evidence backing up the claim that seeing an online therapist will help you just as much as seeing one in person. More than 60 studies have shown that online therapy is just as effective a treatment as face-to-face therapy for many people with depression or anxiety. 

In particular, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to have equal efficacy for online and in-person therapy for people with anxiety. 

Until there is more particular research, in-person therapy may have better efficacy for people with severe symptoms or who experience suicidality or self-harm behaviors. Online therapy may also not be as effective for those who were recently diagnosed with disorders that require extensive initial evaluations, including:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Psychosis

How to know if you should see an online therapist or an in-person therapist

Now that we’ve discussed the comparable efficacy of online therapists and in-person therapists, let’s explore the specific factors that differentiate these two options.

When you look up comparisons between the two, you’ll likely see many benefits for both. For instance, online therapy provides convenience while in-person therapy gives you a neutral space to open up. But it’s important to look into the particular circumstances or reasons why one may be more impactful for you than the other. 

Here are some reasons why in-person therapy may be better suited to support individuals:

  • Who communicate/engage in discussion more effectively in person
  • Who need support managing severe symptoms
  • Who prefer the accountability and commitment that come with attending in-person sessions
  • Who face technical challenges or limitations that make online therapy difficult or inaccessible, such as poor internet connectivity or lack of access to a suitable device

On the other hand, online therapy can be an effective approach for individuals if:

  • With challenging schedules/limited free time
  • Whose symptoms are considered mild or moderate
  • With mobility issues
  • Who live in a region where access to specialized care is more limited

Online and in-person therapeutic treatment at Lightfully Behavioral Health

At Lightfully, all of our in-person and virtual treatment programs are designed to deliver a whole-person, individualized care experience.

Using a process-based therapeutic approach, we help clients develop the insights, resilience and skills they need to navigate challenging times and manage symptoms effectively.

Lightfully offers a continuum of treatment options via online and in-person care methods. We coordinate with other members of a client’s care team to ensure seamless support and treatment intervention.

With multiple programming options, treatment delivery methods and our process-based treatment philosophy, we are able to deliver treatment tailored specifically to meet each client’s unique needs, challenges and goals. 

Change is possible. If you want to see if our online or in-person therapeutic treatment is right for you, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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