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Is Online Therapy Effective? The Pros And Cons


Given the underfunding of the NHS in the U.K. and the long waiting times involved in getting appropriate therapy for mental health conditions (assuming one is fortunate enough to even be put on the waiting list), people suffering emotional problems are increasingly seeking alternatives, including private teletherapy/online therapy (therapy delivered through email, messaging or video calls).

Pros And Cons of Teletherapy/Online Therapy:


  • Avoid long waiting times and other obstacles involved in getting psychological help on the NHS in the United Kingdom. Online therapists are available quickly and can be accessed all around the world and from anywhere in the world.
  • There is a choice between email, messaging and video calls, depending upon which form of communication you feel most comfortable with.
  • Online therapy/teletherapy tends to be less expensive than therapy that takes place face-to-face.
  • There is often a ‘disinhibition effect’ when communicating online as opposed to face-to-face and this might make it easier for some people to ‘open up.
  • Clients can pick therapists from their own culture
  • There is a vast choice of therapists available online
  • Therapy takes place in the comfort of one’s own home and cuts out the need to travel
  • Family counseling can take place even if the individual family members are in different geographical locations
  • Younger people for whom modern technology is a way of life may be particularly drawn to online therapy
  • Positive research: one research study (Andrews et al., 2018) that reviewed 64 other studies (this is known as a meta-analysis) found that online cognitive behavioral therapy significantly helped people who were suffering from social anxiety, panic disorder, major depressive disorder, and generalized anxiety.
  • Another meta-analysis (Barak et al., 2008) provided strong evidence that online psychological interventions are a legitimate therapeutic activity. In all, the study involved 9,764 clients and found that the effectiveness of online therapy was broadly similar to that of traditional face-to-face therapy.



  • if the client and the therapist communicate only by email or text the therapist loses out on some important information such as the client’s tone of voice, facial expressions, intonation, and ‘grooming’ (grooming can reflect a person’s level of self-care which can drop dramatically – not-shaving, not washing, not wearing clean clothes, etc – as a result of serious psychiatric conditions such as major depression. Also, the therapist will not be able to assess the client in terms of body movement (e.g. those suffering from depression may develop ‘psychomotor retardation which manifests itself through various symptoms like a sluggish walking pace, slumping, and ‘zoning out.’


You may also wish to read my article:




Azy Barak, Liat Hen, Meyran Boniel-Nissim & Na’ama Shapira (2008) A Comprehensive Review and a Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness of Internet-Based Psychotherapeutic Interventions, Journal of Technology in Human Services, 26:2-4, 109-160, DOI: 10.1080/15228830802094429

G.Andrews et al., Computer therapy for anxiety and depression disorders is effective, acceptable, and practical health care: An updated meta-analysis. Journal of Anxiety Disorders Volume 55, April 2018, Pages 70-78



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