Virtual Psychotherapy: The Good & Not So Good

Virtual Psychotherapy

Virtual Psychotherapy: The Good & Not So Good


Virtual psychotherapy or telehealth has been on the rise in India since the pandemic began back in 2019. While we were locked inside our houses our minds were struggling to cope with a variety of mental health concerns.

Virtual Psychotherapy
Figure 1:Tele counseling concept, a senior woman at home in front of a laptop making notes during an online video call with a female therapist

Psychotherapists reported over a 50% increase in inquiries and client load in India. According to a NIMHANS helpline, more than 60000 people have been counseled through their helpline alone since the pandemic began. Online platforms like Practo & Lybrate saw a 180% increase in online consultations from March to June 2021 in Delhi alone. And all of this was happening across from a screen and a Wi-Fi connection.  Online psychotherapy in India has become the go-to for mental health support, it has both pros and cons. In this blog post, we deep dive into the good and the not-so-good of online therapy sessions in India.

Pros of Online Therapy

Virtual psychotherapy has significant advantages when compared to in-person therapy. These include: –

  1. Accessibility: While there has been a significant increase in awareness & acceptance of mental healthcare in recent years, experienced mental healthcare providers can be hard to find in small towns & remote areas. Online sessions help both clients & therapists break free from geographical barriers.  Someone from Saharanpur can be seeking therapy from a Delhi-based therapist. This allows both sides to give importance to looking for specialists who are the best fit. Clients also save time that is often spent on travel. Late evening slots allow working professionals to seek therapy after hours as well. Online counseling also makes mental health care accessible to aged or disabled clients who may not have been able to travel for a face-to-face session.
  2. Affordability: Online psychotherapy is often cost-effective for clients and therapists. Online sessions are often offered at lower rates, making mental healthcare accessible to those who may have considered it to be beyond their reach. Having online practices is cost-effective for therapists as well. They save on fixed costs such as rent, maintenance, travel, etc.
  3. Comfort: Sharing the difficult & deep parts of our lives can be hard, even more so in a new environment or office. Seeking online psychotherapy from the comfort of your home can make it easier to express yourself and build a better therapeutic alliance, given the familiar environment.

Cons of Virtual Psychotherapy

However, like everything else, online psychotherapy does have a few disadvantages.

  1. Lack of confidentialit: For some people, it may be difficult to find a safe and private space within their homes, especially those that live with families, with friends, or in hostel accommodations. Particularly in the Indian context, where the stigma related to mental health is still prevalent. Young adults often can’t tell their families/parents that they are seeking psychotherapy.
  2. Body Language Cues are Missed: It is said that 60% of communication is non-verbal. And this non-verbal communication- how people sit, hand gestures, lower limb movements, etc. is partially missed in an online counseling session. This becomes a bigger disadvantage when therapy happens over text or audio calls where one can’t see the client.
  3. Data Privacy & Tech-Based Concerns: While being tech savvy is the need of the hour, it comes with its cons and isn’t for everyone. We have all at least heard of cybercrime or data breaches. When it comes to online psychotherapy, one always runs the risk of highly personal information getting leaked.
Virtual therapy
Figure 2: A depiction of cybercrimes & Data Theft

Like everything else, virtual psychotherapy or therapy offered over the Internet has both its pros and cons. It’s a convenient and accessible form of therapy that often helps beat the stigma associated with mental healthcare. However, it isn’t for everyone. The mode of therapy one chooses is a rather personal choice based on one’s condition and circumstances.

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