Whether you’ve been under a lot of stress lately, you’re experiencing anxiety or depression, or you need help overcoming a difficult event, online therapy can help. It can help you understand the mental blockages that are slowing you down, understand your responses to stressful factors, process the things that influence your behaviour, and develop healthy coping mechanisms that ultimately favour healing. But not all therapy sessions are the same. Depending on the issue you want to address, and several other individual factors, your therapist can suggest a certain type of online therapy or a combination of several therapies.
Types of online therapy
All types of therapy that can be offered face-to-face can also be offered online, and studies have shown that online therapy sessions are just as effective as in-person ones.
Here are the most common types of online therapy that can have a positive impact on your life:
Also known as “talk therapy”, psychotherapy is a type of therapy that uses mostly talking to understand underlying emotional challenges and overcome them in your daily life. Psychotherapy is recommended for many issues, including panic disorder, PTSD, anxiety, and self-esteem, and studies have shown that 75% of patients who have received psychotherapy sessions have gained some benefit from them. However, keep in mind that “psychotherapy” is more of an umbrella term, and includes various approaches, depending on the needs of the person receiving treatment.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a subcategory of psychotherapy that focuses on identifying and changing the dysfunctional behaviours and destructive thought patterns that affect your wellbeing. CBT can be used for anxiety disorder, addictions, PTSD, OCD, depression, and much more.
Gestalt therapy is a humanistic type of therapy that encourages you to take personal responsibility and live in the present. As part of Gestalt therapy, your therapist will teach you how you can let go of past experiences and focus on the present life. Gestalt therapy is recommended in the treatment of anxiety and depression, but it has also proven successful for low self-esteem, enhancing communication with others, and boosting mindfulness.
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) is a newer type of therapy that uses neither talk therapy nor medication. Instead, the therapist will ask you to follow their fingers as they move in front of your face. These movements reduce the power of memories caused by negative events, which is why EMDR is mostly recommended for PTSD.
Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MCBT)
Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) uses mindfulness techniques to help you understand the root of your negative thoughts and control the way you react to them. MBCT has shown excellent results in the management of depression, but it can also work for other mental health concerns too.
Like the name suggests, art therapy uses creative processes (drawing, painting, writing, etc.). to help you express hidden feelings and reduce stress. You don’t need to be particularly talented to take part in art therapy – what matters is to immerse yourself in the creative process and use it as a channel to communicate your emotions.
Format types for therapy sessions
In addition to these approaches, your therapist may also suggest different types of formats:
- Individual therapy: just you and the therapist. One-on-one therapy is the most common type of therapy, and, by default, all sessions are individual unless otherwise advertised.
- Couples therapy: you, your partner, and the therapist. Couples therapy is recommended when you want to work through problems in your relationship, or you want to overcome a challenge that affects you as a couple (loss of a family member, loss of a child, moving home, etc.)
- Family therapy: everyone in the family can join the session, including parents and children. It works in a similar way to couples therapy, but it’s recommended for issues that concern the entire family.
- Group therapy: the sessions include several people who need support on the same issue, such as addiction, victims of domestic abuse, or survivors of a natural disaster.
How do I know which type of therapy is right for me?
While it’s important to educate yourself and reading an overview of the most common types of online therapy can give you an idea of what would work for you, ultimately, it’s the therapist who will decide which approach to follow. It’s important to keep an open mind because sometimes their choices might seem uncommon at first. Remember, as the client, you can ask for clarification, and your therapist can explain what a type of therapy involves.
Can my therapist combine two therapy types?
Yes. This practice is in fact very common. Your therapist can combine several approaches to therapy, and adjust the format of the sessions depending on how you respond to treatment. Your therapist can also suggest a combination between online therapy and medication, but remember that everyone is different and just because a friend felt better after a certain type of therapy that doesn’t mean you will have the same experience.
What if I don’t like therapy?
After taking part in a few sessions, you might feel that they’re not working and you might want to try something else. If this happens, it’s essential to give feedback to your therapist: what part of the experience is unpleasant, why does it bother you, and what would you like to change? You can tell your therapist everything – especially how you feel about the sessions. However, it’s important to keep an open mind and be patient because you might not feel better immediately. Sometimes, a patient agrees that a therapy type is right for them from the first sessions. Other times, therapy is an uphill struggle that takes weeks until you notice an improvement. However, if you feel that your therapist doesn’t accept you, is not a good listener, and something really feels off or unsafe, you are under no obligation to continue therapy, and you can try seeing another therapist.