Online Therapy: Is It Truly Effective?

Online Therapy: Is It Truly Effective?

Claire Bahorski

July 10, 2020

Therapists provide an outlet to talk about things that you perhaps aren’t comfortable speaking about with friends and family. It is a great resource that can truly help people care for themselves and remain healthy. However, until recently, the topic of going to therapy was relatively taboo and many people believed that it is only meant for those who suffer from severe depression, anxiety or trauma. In reality, it is quite the opposite. The normalization of going to therapy is important, and it is not something to ever be ashamed of. It can greatly improve one’s quality of life and everyone can benefit from talking to a therapist about their thoughts, feelings and significant life events. 

As the stigma around going to therapy is dying down, new methods of therapy are being developed everyday. With the existence of the coronavirus, as well as people’s busy lives and work schedules, there’s another form of therapy emerging: therapy apps. These applications that can be easily downloaded onto your phone may come to the rescue if seeing a therapist face-to-face is not an option. The appeal of these various apps comes down to their convenience and quick feedback. They are also a cheaper alternative for those who may not be able to afford regularly seeing a therapist. The average cost of therapy sessions can range from $60 to $120, depending on whether it is covered by insurance. If not covered by insurance, the average American could pay upwards of $250 for one hour. 

The beauty of these applications is that they give access to important resources and put different methods of therapy right at your fingertips. In the midst of a pandemic it is reassuring to know that there are alternatives to these mental health resources. With a simple visit to your phone’s App Store, there are countless options to choose from, if online therapy is something you are considering. 

One of the top-rated options, Moodpath, has features such as mental health assessments, mood journals and acts as a “personalized mental health companion.” Moodpath is unique in that it provides self-screening questions to help users determine if they should seek professional help. It does not give a diagnosis, rather it assesses and tracks your symptoms with data that can be given to a professional to aid in diagnosis. In addition to mental health screenings, the app also provides meditation, gives methods for a better sleep and more. It is rated #26 in the Medical category and has averaged a 4.7/5 star review. Users have praised the app for helping them keep track of their mental health and encouraging a better understanding of their thoughts and emotions. Moodpath is available for free download on the App Store as well as Google Play, with additional costs to unlock premium features. 

Another popular option is Youper. This app brands itself as being like a “pocket therapist” that will help clear your mind and feel your best. This is a conversational app, that allows users to “chat” using Artificial Intelligence to personalize messages and help work through your feelings. Though you are not speaking with an actual person, Youper was created by a team of psychiatrists and other experts and designed to provide the best customized help for you. It claims to also work great alongside physically attending therapy. Whether you are relying on the app for keeping track of emotional health or coupling it with regular therapy visits, it is a great option to manage your mental wellbeing. Other features include assistance in falling asleep faster, mood tracking and meditation. Youper has a 4.9/5 star review and has been featured by well known websites such as Yahoo and Forbes. Users have praised it as a great method of keeping track of their symptoms and moods. Reviewers commend the app’s ability to help them calm themselves and for being able to use the messaging function when they don’t have immediate access to a therapist or someone to talk to. Youper is free to download on the App Store and Google Play, with an annual subscription fee of $44.99 to unlock premium features. 

Despite many great online options, many still prefer talking to a real person. It is vital that establishments such as universities can provide counseling services to those on campus seeking support. College can be a confusing time, and many students may find themselves struggling during their time at the university. At Michigan State University, the Counseling & Psychiatric Services department was established to help students who feel as though they need someone to talk to. The CAPS staff is comprised of social workers, counselors, psychiatrists and more professionals who are trained to help students work through their struggles. Currently, the offices are closed for in-person meetings, but there are options available for video or phone calls. Services like these are important, because the mental health of students should always be the university’s top priority. 

Mental health is just as important as physical health. Everyone faces struggles and life-changing events at some point, and it is essential to seek help if you ever feel you need it. Although these applications are great methods to help cope with stress and anxiety, be sure to contact a professional for an official diagnosis and additional help. Never be afraid to reach out to someone to talk and work through problems with. Therapists and other trained mental health professionals are meant to guide you and help you understand your thoughts and feelings. Counseling and therapy can be greatly beneficial, and you should never feel ashamed or embarrassed for seeking out help in order to become your best self. 

Claire Bahorski (@clairebahorski) is a junior at Michigan State University studying Human Capital and Society and Humanities Pre-Law, with concentrations in Public and Professional Writing and History. In her free time, she loves spending time with her friends and family and watching movies. She hopes to always continue writing, along with her aspirations of becoming an attorney.