Traditional In-Office Mental Health Therapy: Is This the End?

It’s no surprise that communication is a key factor in everyday life. From networking to social media to relationships, human contact has been an important component to life in general. The same has been equally true when looking into the world of therapy. For hundreds of years, people have relied on face to face interactions when they sought mental health help. And while stigma played a large role in keeping many people away from dealing with their psychological problems, for the most part traditional therapy seemed to work.mental health therapy

Fast forward a few hundred years and we’ve arrived at the 21st century. What seems to be the goal of this new millennium? Efficiency. Enter: technology. Over the past 10-20 years alone, the human race has been able to not only accomplish things we could only dream of in the past, but we’ve become more efficient to boot. New technologies are coming to market at an incredible pace. Electric and/or self-driving cars is just one of thousands of examples. But the latest industry to feel the effects of technology? Therapy.

Traditional Therapy

In-office therapy is a pretty simple concept. Someone who is dealing with an issue, such as depression, would search through their local listings (i.e. Yellow Pages), find a therapist in their area and set an appointment. If they got along with the therapist after their introductory session, they would continue generally on a bi-monthly or weekly basis. This worked pretty well on the surface. But there were several underlying issues that people brushed aside because, well, there were no alternatives. Such issues included, but are not limited to:

  • Stigma
  • Time constraints
  • Cancellations
  • Pricing
  • Boundaries

Stigma was, and still is, a major roadblock for many people who seek out therapy. People are often afraid of being seen by friends or family members while pulling up for their therapy appointment. This is a big reason for why so many people who have set sessions ultimately do not show up for it. Furthermore, people have becoming increasingly busy in their day to day lives. Who has time to find a therapist near them, set an appointment and actually take 1.5-2 hours out of their day? And some, when they finally found a convenient time from both themselves and their therapist, one (or both) of the parties had to cancel. Then there’s pricing. Therapy generally costs roughly $200 per session, and can cost as much as $400 per session. Who has that kind of money lying around? Finally, boundaries come into play. No, not mental boundaries but actual physical boundaries. 60% of Americans do not have access to mental health professionals because they live in rural areas with no licensed therapists in their living radius.

Out With the Old, In With the New

Realizing the many downsides of traditional therapy, several major health companies became creative and started using technology to their benefit. They created chat therapy through mobile apps, desktop platforms and video conferencing solutions. Such therapy is widely known as online therapy.

This type of therapy essentially eliminated the underlying issues of traditional therapy. Stigma is now a thing of the past because people can receive therapy from the comfort of their own home. They can also do it “on the go”. This also eliminated the issues of time constraints, cancellations and boundaries. If you’re one of the 60% of Americans who don’t have access to mental health help, you’re in luck. There is now a therapist for everyone, no matter your location.

The Bottom Line

To be clear: traditional in-office therapy is still an integral part of mental health help. While online therapy has been widely accepted and known to show positive results, there’s still a large part of the mental health community who note that there is no parallel to face-to-face communication.

Still, there are many issues traditional therapy face that have been around for a long time because they simply could not be solved, until now. Online therapy is very new and people who are considering this option should conduct their own due diligence prior to joining a service is one of several online mental health guides related to online therapy). Lastly and most importantly, if you decide to go this route, make sure to keep an open mind, especially if you’ve had traditional therapy in the past. Online therapy is quite different, and will take time to get used to. But, the results are already proving themselves.

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