When most people think of online therapy, they might imagine an adult talking to a therapist through a smartphone or laptop. But online therapy is also suitable for children.
However, before you register your child for online treatment, it is important to understand how it works and understand the potential risks and benefits of online treatment compared to face-to-face treatment.
How online therapy works
There are many licensed mental health professionals who treat children and adolescents online. In most cases, children can receive treatment online at a level similar to when they make an appointment in person.
Online treatment appointments can be made via video, real-time chat, telephone or message. Most treatment courses can be conducted via smartphones, tablets or computers.
The rules regarding child parental permission vary by state and licensing agency. Therefore, while some states may require parents to allow their children to participate in online therapy, other states may allow teens to register without their parents’ knowledge.
If parents are involved, the therapist may ask the parents to provide advice on the problem encountered by the child. They can also interview the parents about the child’s medical history and any family history of mental illness.
After the initial assessment, the therapist will discuss treatment options and recommendations, as well as confidentiality rules.
Types of treatments available online
The most popular online therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy. This is a treatment that helps individuals recognize and change unhelpful thoughts and destructive behaviors.
Research shows that online cognitive behavioral therapy is as effective as face-to-face therapy for children. It is commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but it can also be used to treat various other diseases.
Online counseling may also involve supportive counseling, where the therapist provides emotional support. It may also incorporate problem-solving therapies into the treatment. The therapist will help the child find solutions to specific problems, such as friendship issues.
Certain forms of treatment cannot be done online. For example, play therapy is usually done in person with the child. It involves the use of various toys (such as dollhouses) to express emotions and perform scenes.
Sand table therapy also tends to be done in person. It involves a plate of sand with various figurines available. Children (or adults) are asked to set up the sand table in any way they want-the therapist may explain the scene or help them understand their creation.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) must also be performed in person. This is an interactive therapy that involves talking about trauma while moving the eyes from one side to the other under the guidance of the therapist.
How is online therapy different
Children can communicate with the therapist in a variety of different ways. Although some online treatment sites and programs allow unlimited messaging, other sites and programs require video chat.
Depending on your child’s age, needs and preferences, you can allow your child to communicate with the therapist in the way that best suits them.
While some people worry that online therapy may be too impersonal, others report that they are more open when they are not sitting across from the therapist in the same room. Similarly, while some children may have difficulty establishing contact, other children may be able to establish more contact with an online therapist.
A properly qualified online therapist can provide a diagnosis. Although some parents may prefer to avoid labels, it is important to understand the diagnosis to provide the most effective treatment.
- Children can meet with a therapist in their own home. This is important for families who fear that they might meet someone they know in the therapist’s waiting room, because treatment often brings stigma. Compared with working in a professional office space, children may feel more comfortable at home.
- Children who are satisfied with the technology will easily browse online treatments. Children grew up with technology, so talking to someone online seems second nature. They may be very satisfied with this process.
- There may be more flexibility in scheduling appointments. This is very helpful for busy families who have difficulty meeting appointments during normal working hours. Many online therapists offer evening or even weekend appointments.
- Online treatment may cost less. Many therapists charge less for online appointments because they have less administrative costs (they don’t need to rent office space, pay staff salaries, etc.).
- Treatment may be easier to obtain. When children in rural areas can see someone online, they may have more access to a therapist.
- Technical problems can interfere with treatment. For families with slow Internet speeds, online treatment may be problematic. Technical faults in software or electronic equipment can also interfere with treatment.
- Parents may feel that they are not involved. If the child is sending a message to the therapist, it may be more difficult for the parent to check and understand the progress of the matter or the parent to ask a question. The child is likely to have a private room to chat with the therapist and also have his own password. Children have the right to have confidential conversations with their therapist, but depending on their age, children do not always have the right to complete privacy.
- Online therapy is not suitable for every situation. Most online therapists do not treat certain problems and conditions. For example, children who are suicidal or self-harming may not be eligible for online treatment.
- Online therapists may not meet the standards set by the court. If the court orders the youth to receive treatment, substance abuse treatment, or anger management, online counseling is unlikely to meet these requirements.
- Online therapists may not accept insurance. Most online therapists do not accept insurance. Therefore, if you wish to use your health insurance, there may be fewer therapists you can choose from.
Conditions Treated by Online Therapy
Online treatment may be an option for many situations. TeenCounseling.com is a popular online treatment site for teenagers. According to reports, they help teach coping skills, reduce anxiety, reduce stress, improve self-esteem, reduce depression, solve bullying problems, control anger, and treat eating disorders and other mental challenges.
Many studies on online treatment of children have focused on depression and anxiety. But therapists often treat various mental health problems and provide other preventive services.
Some online treatment sites provide psychiatric services. A psychiatrist is a doctor who specializes in mental health treatment and can prescribe medication. This may be helpful for parents who are interested in helping their children control their symptoms with medication.
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If you are concerned about your child’s mental health, or if you have some concerns about their emotions and behavior, it may be important to consult a professional. You may find that an online therapist can meet your needs.
There are many different online treatment services, which differ in price and communication options. With some research, you can find the best product for your child.