Telehealth or Online Counseling Demystified

Telehealth and Online Counseling

What is Telehealth or Online Counseling?

While there are various forms of online counseling, we will discuss video-conferencing counseling sessions for the scope of this blog post. When you meet your counselor over a videoconferencing platform such as Google Meet or Zoom, that is a telehealth or online counseling session.

Globally, digital literacy is growing, especially amongst digitally competitive countries such as Singapore (7.8 score index) and the United States (6.3 score index) (The Digital Skills Gap Index). People are spending a lot of their time online, shopping online, learning online, and engaging with each other through online communication modalities such as messaging daily.

Receiving counseling services online is an option for traditional face-to-face counseling. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of individuals seeking mental health services has increased. For example, in the United States, the rate of young adults who sought mental health services between the ages of 18 and 44 increased from 18.5% to 23.2% between 2019 and 2021 (National Center of Health Statistics, 2022).

What are the Benefits of Telehealth or Online Counseling?

Recently I had an appointment with my service provider, and I requested an online appointment. It would save me an hour and a half of commuting time and any associated transportation costs.

In addition to telehealth being more cost-effective, other benefits of telehealth include accessibility, convenience, and comfort. Telehealth can allow people to gain access to treatment sooner rather than later. For people who may be deterred from attending in-person counseling services, telehealth can help to overcome this logistical barrier. Another added benefit is that people can enjoy counseling in the comfort of their home or office. If you have access to a quiet room, the telehealth option is already available to you.

Does Telehealth or Online Counseling Really Work?

Before the pandemic outbreak, telehealth was considered an option that was suboptimal to traditional counseling. The key reasons included a lack of information and training amongst mental health providers about telehealth and how to provide care online. Additionally, there was a lack of research on the efficacy of telehealth.

A recent research study of 27,500 participants in mental health treatment demonstrated that telehealth works just as well as traditional in-person sessions (Catarino et al., 2023).

Telehealth may not be for everyone. However, it can be a viable option for people who have access to a quiet room and would like to enjoy counseling in the comfort of their homes or offices.


Catarino, A., Harper, S., Malcol, R., Stainthrope, A., Warren, G., Margoum, M., Hooper, J., Blackwell, A. D., & Welchman, A. E. Economic evaluation of 27,540 patients with mood and anxiety disorders and the importance of waiting time and clinical effectiveness in mental healthcare. Nature Mental Health, 1, 667-678.

National Center of Health Statistics (September 2022). Mental health treatment among adults aged 18-44: United States.

The Digital Skills Gap Index (DSGI).

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