The Pros and Cons of Virtual Therapy
Virtual therapy apps are outperforming most other forms of telehealth services.
Apps (like Talkspace) offering text-based therapy are on the rise, so the question is, what are the pros and cons of receiving therapy through texts instead of in-person?
PRO: Virtual therapy is typically cheaper than traditional in-person therapy. This cost factor is huge for many people who have been priced out of the standard, sit-on-the-couch and talk therapy. That, plus the fact that many employment-based health plans do not cover mental services, makes virtual therapy very appealing.
PRO: It meets young people where they are. Gen Z and Gen Alpha kids have been raised on phones, so phone-based therapies are a mode of communication that they are very comfortable with. The cadence of texting is highly natural to them, so this type of therapy could potentially do wonders with younger age groups.
BUT: It may keep younger generations stuck where they are, i.e., unable to talk to people in-person. For Gen Z, a generation known for extremely high levels of anxiety, it could be beneficial to break through the screen and do in-person therapy. One could argue that having therapy over the phone might reinforce certain negative patterns or emotions that stem from too much phone use in the first place.
PRO: Virtual therapy is flexible. Many people don’t go to traditional therapy because of time and schedule constraints. With many virtual therapy apps, you can have conversations at your convenience, and stretched out over time, the way you’d talk to a friend over text.
CON: The therapist may not always answer right away. The downside of flexibility is that you might be in the mood to continue the conversation and meanwhile, the therapist is temporarily unavailable and doesn’t answer right away. While it’s difficult, the advantage to setting aside an hour a week to do an in-person session is that it means you’ll be in the room with the person at the same time and if you ask them a question, they’ll definitely be listening in the moment and able to provide an answer.
PRO: The pacing of virtual therapy allows you to digest things overtime, with a record to look back on. Many folks love how, like a text thread with a friend, you can go over and reflect on what your therapist wrote to you, and then take your time to write your own response.
CON: Some feel unable to get the same level of emotional release without talking out-loud. For some, being in the room with another person and speaking aloud about their feelings is what really gets that emotional release. (It should be noted, there are virtual therapy apps that do have call features too.)
The bottom line is, there’s no simple answer. It really depends on you, what you’re looking for, and what works best with your situation.
But if you’re feeling like you need to talk to someone, you should.
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