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Online therapy (eTherapy)

6-minute read

If you need to talk to someone about your mental health, call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

Key facts

  • Online therapy, or eTherapy, provides psychological support via computer, phone or other devices.
  • Forms of online therapy include screening tools, structured therapy programs, web seminars and online counsellors or psychologists.
  • Online therapy can address mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder OCD.
  • Benefits include the convenience of accessing therapy without travel and its flexibility to fit your schedule.
  • Before starting online therapy speak with your doctor to determine if it is appropriate for you.

What is online therapy?

Online therapy is also known as eTherapy. It includes psychological support, information, online counselling and other help provided online. It may be available on a computer, tablet or smartphone.

There are many different types of online therapy. Some are as simple as screening tools and checklists to help you decide if you want to seek help. Some offer web seminars. Others have structured online programs. Some programs offer an online counsellor or psychologist to talk to, while others don't.

Online therapy can be a very effective way of helping most people.

Online therapy can help people with different mental health conditions including:

What are the benefits and disadvantages of online therapy?

Some benefits of choosing online therapy include:

  • Flexibility — You can go online when you are emotionally ready and when it suits you. This could be after work or late at night, when children are asleep, and at weekends.
  • Accessibility — This is helpful if you cannot easily travel to regular treatment sessions because of time or distance.
  • Greater comfort — Some people find online therapy less confronting than speaking directly to a counsellor or psychologist face-to-face.

However, online therapy isn't for everyone. It might not suit you if you're not comfortable with technology, and it might not suit you if you're in crisis. Depending on your condition, services might not be covered by a Medicare rebate or private health insurance.

Cost and safety

Some online therapy programs and services are free on publicly available websites. Other treatment may be available for a fee.

Remember to consider costs associated with devices and an internet connection needed to access online therapy.

Your safety and privacy are very important. There are many online therapy services available and their quality varies. For this reason, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has created the National Safety and Quality Digital Mental Health Standards. This is to make sure online services give you accurate, safe and good quality therapy.

If you choose to talk with a psychologist or counsellor, it is important to check their qualifications before you agree to treatment.

In Australia, psychologists must be registered with the Psychology Board of Australia. They also must be listed with the Australian Practitioner Regulation Agency. You can look up their qualifications online.

Anybody can call themselves a counsellor. There is no specific training required. Counsellors can choose to register themselves with the Australian Counselling Association on the Australian Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists.

Read about different types of mental health professionals.

Where do I start?

Speak with your doctor to discuss if online therapy is right for you.

You can read more about eTherapy at Mental Health Online.

Online therapy resources

  • has reviewed mobile tools and apps to help you look after your health and wellbeing.
  • MindSpot is a national online and telephone assessment and treatment service for adults experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, and chronic pain.
  • The BRAVE Program is an interactive, online program for the prevention and treatment of childhood and adolescent anxiety. The programs are free. They provide ways for children and teenagers to better cope with their worries. There are also programs for parents.
  • eCentreClinic is free online treatment courses for people with symptoms of worry, anxiety, stress, depression, low mood and more.
  • e-couch is a self-help interactive program covering depression, generalised anxiety and worry, social anxiety, relationship breakdown, and loss and grief.
  • Headspace has a range of ways to support you online, including interactive tools and opportunity to chat with a clinician.
  • MumMoodBooster is Australia's evidence-based treatment for postnatal depression and provides personalised online sessions.

Counselling specifically for men:

  • MensLine Australia provides a free online counselling service for Australian men specialising in family and relationship issues.

Some online therapy programmes are more suited to interactive self-help:

  • moodgym provides interactive self-help. It helps you to learn and practise skills which can help to prevent and manage symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • myCompass provides a self-help guide to good mental health.
  • Mental Health Online is free online services to help you understand and address your needs through self-assessment, self-help and, if you choose, online professional support.
  • This Way Up provides clinically-proven online programs to tackle feelings of stress, anxiety, and low mood.

Resources and support:

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: February 2024

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