Online therapy has been an option for treatment for over a decade, but it has exploded in popularity in the past several years. It has become a staple component of mental health treatment programs and is often the therapy of choice for a number of individuals.

This sudden growth and increase in demand for online therapy has quickly begun reshaping the mental health care model. While in-person therapy options have returned as an option, online therapy is here to stay and provides a number of benefits for clients looking to overcome their mental health challenges.

What Is Online Therapy?

Online therapy refers to any therapy service delivered over the internet rather than meeting in person. While most people believe that online therapy specifically refers to meeting with a therapist one-on-one using a video conferencing application, there are a variety of ways that online therapy can be used:

  • Online group therapy
  • Online messaging
  • Online assessments
  • Online screenings

With advances in online privacy technology and specialized applications that meet the strict requirements of confidentiality required for therapy, these services are safe, secure, and easily accessible.

The Difference Between Virtual and In-Person Therapy

In-person and virtual therapy options have more in common than they have differences. Still, a few important distinctions may influence your decision on which style of therapy will work best for you.

The greatest difference is, of course, the in-person nature of the more traditional style of therapy.

Meeting with a therapist in person can provide a sense of relief or comfort for people who are uncomfortable with digital forms of communication. It may also help your therapist pick up on subtle physical cues or emotions that could be more difficult to spot in a virtual therapy session, which could help them make your therapy more successful.

Another key difference is location. On the client side, virtual therapy requires you to have a relatively private, quiet, and secure area where you can speak to your therapist openly. In-person therapy typically provides this space as part of the service, offering a neutral location for you and your therapist to meet.

However, with these key differences addressed, you should also consider the incredible benefits of online therapy and how it is reshaping the mental health space as you know it.

The Benefits of Online Therapy

Online therapy is here to stay for a number of reasons. As people have shifted toward online platforms in recent years, the astounding benefits of online therapy quickly rose to the forefront. It became many people’s preferred method of receiving mental health services due to some of its benefits.

Easier Access to Therapy

Virtual therapy is inherently convenient. Unlike in-person services, an online therapy session can take place at your own home without the need to travel to a therapist’s office that could be miles away.

This convenience often significantly reduces the amount of time people need to spend to get effective mental health services, which helps you to schedule therapy to accommodate your busy schedule.

While this is true for the client, it is often true for the therapist as well. Therapists performing online therapy can often deliver services from the comfort of their own homes, which opens the door to more hours of availability and the ability to better accommodate multiple clients’ unique schedules.

Furthermore, sometimes, being able to receive therapy at home can alleviate many of the concerns people have about therapy. Home is often where people feel the most comfortable already, and many people feel uncomfortable going to a therapist’s office and opening up about their mental health challenges.

Bringing Effective Mental Health Services to Rural Areas

Rural areas in the United States often have very few in-person therapy options available. The mental health needs of people in these rural areas are no different from people in more urban environments, but the accessibility of mental health services has long been a critical issue in the field.

Even if there are providers in your area, there’s no guarantee that you are a good fit with your therapist, that they have specialized training for your exact needs, or that they have enough availability to see new clients on a schedule that works for you.

With online therapy, mental health service providers can now provide therapeutic services to rural areas, even if they live well outside of them. Specialists can provide services across a much wider area, and clients have an abundance of therapists to choose from.

Removing Barriers to Care

In seeking therapy, there is often an abundance of barriers to care that may stand in the way. For example, a person who doesn’t have a car may not be able to travel to in-person therapy appointments or may need to take several buses and spend an inordinate amount of time for a single 50-minute session.

Certain disabilities may interfere with a person getting to in-person therapy appointments as well. People who have difficulty walking, transferring, or leaving their homes may not be able to get to in-person therapy appointments without significant support.

Another pertinent concern is privacy. People seeking therapy are often highly concerned with the public stigma against mental illness and worry that traveling to a mental health clinic could compromise their anonymity or expose private health concerns to community members.

All these barriers can be removed by choosing virtual therapy as your form of mental health treatment. No travel is required, no time needs to be spent in traffic, and you don’t need to risk your privacy by walking into a mental health facility.

Ease of Collaboration

For many mental health concerns, there are often specially trained therapists, psychologists, or psychiatrists who can provide tailored services to meet a client’s unique needs.

Online therapy makes the collaboration process between providers much simpler and more accessible since these services can all be delivered through telehealth platforms. If your therapist thinks a specialist can be of assistance, it’s simple and easy to set up an online session to fit your needs.

Potential Drawbacks of Online Therapy

As incredibly beneficial as online therapy can be, it’s not without its share of downfalls. The potential drawbacks of online therapy should play a factor when you’re considering if this style of therapy is the right choice for you.

Technology Limitations

Online therapy typically requires clients to provide their own computer, a webcam, a microphone, and a stable internet connection. If you are missing any of these critical components, online therapy may not even be an option for you.

There are certain workarounds in place at mental health facilities to address these issues. For instance, if you are already traveling to an in-person mental health clinic, they may have these technologies available for use if you need to see a specialist at a different location via online therapy.

Home Privacy Concerns

If you don’t have a private, secure place to participate in therapy at home, it may be a reason for you to avoid online therapy. People who share their household with a partner, relative, or roommates, for example, may not feel comfortable opening up with a therapist if they are concerned about their housemates overhearing their conversation.

If this is the case for you, in-person therapy may be a better choice. Having a secure and confidential location to meet your therapy is a critical component for people to feel comfortable enough to perform the deep work of therapy.

Physical Limitations

Certain mental health interventions require you to be in person to use specialized technologies or services. A wide number of mental health treatments may require clients to visit a facility in person. Examples of such therapies include:

These treatment methods use specialized equipment and technology that require clients to meet in person. While there is an abundance of therapeutic modalities that can be performed via online therapy, it cannot yet fully replace the specialized equipment used in different mental health treatment modalities.

Assessing Online Therapy’s Effectiveness

A common concern for people beginning online therapy is whether you can receive the same results as you would from in-person therapy. Research has been ongoing on the effectiveness of virtual therapy options for decades, with several reassuring results.

According to the American Psychological Association, online therapy is just as effective as in-person interventions.

Large meta-analytic studies have been performed and have tracked client outcomes across both in-person and online therapy options across a wide range of mental health concerns and found that both forms of therapy provided equivalent results.

This outcome is often difficult for people new to online therapy to believe. A strong, emotional connection is often considered one of the primary components of a therapeutic intervention being successful, and clients worry that some piece of that is lost when communicating via a live video chat.

Thankfully, the evidence shows that this connection remains intact with telehealth options. And, of course, for those who prefer in-person connection, there are still plenty of in-person therapy options available.

What Can Online Therapy Treat?

Science shows that online therapy is just as effective as in-person therapy for a wide number of mental health challenges. Some of the most common reasons people seek online therapy include:

  • Depression treatment
  • Anxiety treatment
  • ADHD assessment and treatment
  • Trauma treatment
  • Personal counseling
  • Marriage and family therapy
  • Couples counseling

The primary treatment methods for treating these types of mental health challenges involve sitting down and talking with a therapist. Any therapeutic modality that uses the communication between client and therapist as the main impetus for recovery can be delivered via online therapy services, including modalities such as:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Cognitive processing therapy

Many of our online therapists work within several of these modalities or can refer you to a specialist who has the exact type of training you’re looking for in your treatment.

Start Online Therapy at Plus by APN

Plus by APN is dedicated to providing the best in traditional and innovative mental health treatment methods to all our clients. Whether you’re looking for novel treatment methods such as ketamine-assisted therapy, innovative technologies such as deep transcranial magnetic stimulation, or effective and convenient virtual therapy options — our team has resources to help you achieve recovery.

Get in contact with the team at Plus by APN to learn more about the wide variety of comprehensive treatment options we offer. You can reach out using the live chat function on our website, by filling out our confidential online contact form, or by calling our team directly at 424.644.6486 for more information.

Whatever your mental health difficulty may be, you can find recovery with in-person or online therapy.


  • Kumar, Vikram et al. “The Effectiveness of Internet-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders.” Cureus vol. 9,8 e1626. 29 Aug. 2017, doi:10.7759/cureus.1626
  • “Online Therapy Is Here to Stay.” Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.