What you should know before starting text therapy

Feeling stressed? Stuck? Anxious? Depressed? Ever consider getting therapy to help you sort out your feelings? Perhaps, though, you can’t afford the time, or the money, or maybe you’re just so not in the mood to get out of the house and drive across town to go talk to somebody face-to-face. Luckily a number of therapists are starting to offer their services via text, perhaps the most low-stress way to interact.

While text therapy may have its advantages, it isn’t going to be for everybody, and it’s not going to work in every situation. Before you decide whether to pursue this type of treatment, here are a few things you should consider.

Advantages of text therapy

With text therapy, you don’t need to rely on your memory when it comes to going back over what you and your therapist talked about. It’s text, so what you’ve communicated is already written down and right there for you to go back over whenever you like. Text therapy is also undoubtedly more convenient, as you don’t have to travel to get to a therapist’s office. Texting is also, for many of us, a familiar, comfortable way to interact.

One perceived advantage to text therapy that may or may not be real, though, is its lower expense than in-office therapy. While this may be true if you’re paying out of pocket for the latter, the American Psychological Association (APA) warns that not all insurance providers will cover psychotherapy that occurs out of office.

Drawbacks to text therapy

In addition to the possibility of text therapy not being covered by insurance, the APA also notes that not all text therapists are actually licensed to practice psychotherapy. There may also be some privacy issues if you’re receiving text therapy through an app and that app turns out to be less than secure when it comes to protecting your data.

Perhaps one of the biggest concerns with text therapy, however, may be the fact that you’re not really going to get the same insight as you could from a provider who actually met with you face to face. Former text therapy patient Timothy Goodman, interviewed by The Cut, noted that such therapists “don’t understand physical nuances or expressions,” and, comparing his text therapy experience with previous IRL therapy he’d received, concluded that “there is nothing is like the real thing at the end of the day.”

Still, though, if text therapy is all you can handle at this time, some help is better than none. It’s always possible that getting started with text therapy may give you the push you need to get out of the house and connect with a therapist who will be able to offer you a deeper level of help.

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