HomeHealthAsk Dr Max

Considering online therapy? Here’s what you should know


1st Jan 2020 Ask Dr Max

Considering online therapy? Here’s what you should know

It’s no secret that there are stark differences between healthcare in the United States and healthcare here in the UK. Oddly enough, citizens of both countries tend to complain about the state of their respective health care platforms.

The United States has it bad. Really, really bad. It is widely considered one of their most miserable failures. The UK is not without issues as well, and according to The Telegraph, has one of the worst healthcare systems in the developed world.

While the United States healthcare system may be in complete shambles, it’s not all doom and gloom in the UK. Overall, the British tend to love their healthcare system. This is due to a range of factors, the largest one being pricing, as expected. Citizens in the UK spend, on average, half the amount on healthcare as their friends across the pond. Did we mention that the average life expectancy in the UK is longer, too? Talk about adding insult to injury…

The NHS is Great, But…

We can go on and on about how great the NHS is. Even though The Independent ran that piece trashing the NHS, many Brits are proud of their healthcare system. Unfortunately, there are some significant downsides to it as well. Many areas within the overall healthcare industry in the UK are not as cheap or efficient as others. For example, if you are in need of professional therapy in the UK, expect to pay a premium. This may not seem like a big issue, but it’s real and has the potential to have catastrophic consequences.

Why is Therapy so Expensive?

There is a much more in-depth reason for this, which requires an entire explanation on its own. However, the short version goes like this: licensed psychologists operate their own ‘mini-businesses’. Although certain therapies and individuals may qualify for free, not everything is fully covered by the NHS. This has certainly contributed to the atrocious state of mental health in the UK, where one in four people are dealing with a mental disorder.

This has led many people to seek out alternative solutions, the majority of which have either not proven to be successful, or are flat out dangerous to individuals with severe mental health issues. Yet, there are some alternative options that have been gaining traction, most notably being something known as online therapy.

An Introduction & Brief History of Online Therapy


As its name suggests, online therapy allows people with mental health disorders to connect to a licensed therapist over the internet. Interestingly enough, the history of receiving therapy in an online setting dates back roughly two decades. Yet, it wasn’t until only less than five years ago that large scale online therapy providers started offering their services to the public.

How Does it Work?

The concept is quite simple. Anyone who has access to a smart device/computer and an internet connection will have the ability to talk to a therapist online. Many providers ask the potential client several questions prior to signing up. These questions can range from how old you are to what your current relationship status is. Once the service understands your unique profile, their algorithm then pairs you with a licensed therapist. Clients generally then proceed to a secure and dedicated chat room that is only accessible to them and their therapist.

There Are Many Benefits

As you can ascertain by now, there are a large list of benefits to this type of therapy, which is why thousands have signed up for it. People who use an online therapy service frequently mention that they can manage the monthly payments, which generally do not exceed £200 per month. Online therapy is also known as being as effective as traditional counseling, more efficient and private, while also eliminating the stigma surrounding therapy.

There Are Many Downsides, Too

For all the love online therapy has received lately, it doesn’t come without its flaws. The main issues many people have with online therapy, including some licensed practitioners, are the absence of verbal/facial cues and ethics. Due to these reasons (primarily on the ethical issue), professional organisations like the ACA are hesitant to fully endorseonline therapy. There are also other concerns that are frequently brought up, such as regulatory concerns and technological difficulties.

The Bottom Line

There are many considerations to take into account prior to joining an online therapy platform. It’s important to keep in mind that though many people are already using one of these services, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good option for you. Should you decide to join one, understand the risks and potentially limited impact it can have.

Keep up with the top stories from Reader’s Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.