E-therapy can be as effective as face-to-face conventional therapy.
Studies have shown that e-therapy combined with medication surpasses the effectiveness of using medication alone.
A word of caution, though: guided online therapy is the one that is most effective – not unguided.⠀⠀⠀
A review of 30 trials of internet-based therapies have been published over the past ten years. Another review highlighted 26 trials showing improvement in anxiety and stress. Improvement occurred when guided internet-based cognitive behaviour therapy was adopted in as little as one to two months.⠀⠀⠀
Unfortunately, therapy is often dismissed as a resource that is too expensive. Yet e-therapy is a low-cost and easily accessible alternative to conventional therapy that often goes overlooked as a therapeutic treatment.
E-therapy delivers maximum impact with minimal cost. However, it is still seldom used and poorly understood. One silver lining from the pandemic is a growing awareness for the need to provide mental health support affordably with easy access online (guided or self-guided). Many therapists have also shifted their services online.
Visit our COVID Mental Health Resources page and Mental Health Resources to get started.
What are the benefits of e-therapy over conventional therapy? Let’s take a look:
Reviews of trials conducted over the past 20 years show that guided e-therapy is as effective as conventional face-to-face therapy.
It’s no secret that the expense of face-to-face therapy is prohibitive for some people. This is harder still with insurance plans that provide little-to-no coverage. These factors can keep people who would otherwise seek therapy from starting treatment. E-therapy has affordable options.
Unsure where to find affordable online therapy? Talk with your healthcare provider and visit our list of resources to get started.
Another major obstacle to regular treatment is finding time in a busy schedule to sit down with a therapist. E-therapy makes it possible for therapy to fit into a busy schedule. E-therapy offers flexible options to work with a therapist in a different timezone. During our unique pandemic times, it’s not only a question of making the time to attend an in-person appointment, it’s currently safer to book meet online. ⠀⠀⠀
As businesses and professionals move their services online, it’s possible that a local professional in your area may be available and has moved his or her services online. It may be worth checking if you wish to opt for someone local.⠀
It can reduce stress
One cannot underestimate the effects of stress.
“(Stress is) one of the major public health issues in this century.” – Heber et al.
In a survey we conducted of over 23,000 women, over 70% told us their biggest struggle was stress and overwhelm. We’ve learned that when women have high stress in pregnancy, it tends to carry on through the year after delivery and beyond. Without support, many women continue to have high levels of stress… for a long time.
While e-therapy isn’t for everyone, studies have shown its effectiveness for:
Many health insurance plans limit the number of therapeutic sessions they cover. E-therapy has no such restrictions and can extend indefinitely.
Support for individuals already coping with a physical condition
Physical issues often have an emotional or psychological component. However, patients can be reluctant to visit yet another doctor. For people living with chronic illnesses such as:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease or
- Traumatic injury,
an inability to leave the house can be a major impediment to treatment. E-therapy can provide the emotional and psychological support necessary right from home.
Support for expectant couples and new parents struggling with anxiety and depression
E-therapy has been used as part of routine mental health care by physicians and psychologists in the U.K. and Australia over the past decade. There is a good reason for its popularity: it works. Reviews of research that tested guided online therapy against no treatment consistently show that it is effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Preventing depression and anxiety both during pregnancy and in postpartum in both parents
Transitioning into parenthood is a huge life change. Our studies have shown that anxiety and depression can start during pregnancy. Addressing these struggles prior to baby’s arrival can greatly improve recovery rates.
“We hear a lot about postpartum depression, but depression can also take place during pregnancy. In fact, it is almost as common. One of the best ways to avoid severe postnatal depression is to receive diagnosis and treatment during pregnancy.” – Dr. Dawn Kingston.
Therapy sessions can be short AND effective
If cost is a factor, it may come as good news that (guided) e-therapy doesn’t have to take long before you start seeing benefits. Many people experience decreased anxiety, depression and stress in as little as three eight weeks.
Long lasting results
The positive effects of an initial course of guided e-therapy sessions can last six months to three years. Some individuals then choose to schedule a booster session or two to continue experiencing positive effects. This strategy can become part of an effective long-term care plan while keeping costs low and saving time.
Flexibility to connect at anytime, anywhere, with many e-therapy platforms offering mobile friendly services alongside desktop counterparts.
This is perhaps currently the most appealing aspect of online therapy. Not only is it possible to continue therapy if you move away during non-pandemic times, but it also offers support to busy parents while staying at home.
Many studies show there is little difference in outcomes between online and face-to-face therapy, but
If one form of therapy isn’t working for you, know you have options. If you are finding that online therapy isn’t working for you, it’s a good idea to consider face-to-face or group therapy. You don’t have to struggle alone.
Tips to bear in mind when exploring e-therapy options:
Check to see if the website or app is secure and HIPAA-compliant and find out if your insurance provider covers e-therapy. Most require you to meet face-to-face, but there may be exceptions.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Especially in our pandemic times it’s possible that the exceptions become more the norm as more professionals and clients request to meet online.
Guided vs unguided online therapy
The differences between guided online therapy vs unguided online therapy are important. Guided online therapy includes some form of connection with another person. This is usually a coach or a therapist. That person usually connects through automatic, personalized text messages or telephone calls. At times this may even be face-to-face. Usually this is a quick check-in and encouragement to continue with the online course.⠀⠀⠀
Here’s the bottom line: E-therapy can deliver maximum impact for minimal cost, but the best choice is guided therapy. Studies have shown that e-therapy is effective for a wide variety of psychological and emotional needs and can improve overall treatment over medication alone. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
If you have been struggling for a while, consider reaching out for help. Therapy is more accessible than ever before, especially with online options.⠀⠀
Pregnant? Your emotional health matters. Participate in a research study using a web-app to support emotional health during and after pregnancy. Sign up at: www.hopepregnancyapp.com
Now open to all of Alberta, Canada.
Olthuis, J. V., Watt, M. C., Bailey, K., Hayden, J. A., & Stewart, S. H. (2015). Therapist-supported Internet cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety disorders in adults. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (3), CD011565. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD011565
Heber, E., Ebert, D. D., Lehr, D., Cuijpers, P., Berking, M., Nobis, S., & Riper, H. (2017). The Benefit of Web- and Computer-Based Interventions for Stress: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of medical Internet research, 19(2), e32. https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.5774
Sztein, D. M., Koransky, C. E., Fegan, L., & Himelhoch, S. (2018). Efficacy of cognitive behavioural therapy delivered over the Internet for depressive symptoms: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of telemedicine and telecare, 24(8), 527–539. https://doi.org/10.1177/1357633X17717402
Păsărelu, C. R., Andersson, G., Bergman Nordgren, L., & Dobrean, A. (2017). Internet-delivered transdiagnostic and tailored cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety and depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Cognitive behaviour therapy, 46(1), 1–28. https://doi.org/10.1080/16506073.2016.1231219
Kumar, V., Sattar, Y., Bseiso, A., Khan, S., & Rutkofsky, I. H. (2017). The Effectiveness of Internet-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders. Cureus, 9(8), e1626. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.1626