Online therapy (also known as eTherapy) is an online treatment for psychological issues.
There are different types of online therapy. You could talk to your doctor about whether they are suitable for you and the help you'd like to get.
What is online therapy?
Online therapy is psychological support, information, therapy and other help that is provided online or on your mobile device.
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 for a psychological issue. Some offer web seminars. Others have structured online programs. Some programs offer an online counsellor to talk to, while others don't.
Online therapy can be a very effective way of helping most people. It can be accessed easily with a computer, tablet or smartphone. Online therapy can help different mental health conditions including:
- postnatal depression
- panic disorder
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
Benefits and disadvantages of online therapy
Some people find online therapy useful because you can go online when it suits you — after work or late at night, when children are asleep, and at weekends.
It can also help people who can't easily get to regular treatment sessions because of time or distance. Some people find it less confronting than speaking directly to a counsellor or psychologist.
If your online therapy includes a structured program, being online means you can work through the tasks when you're ready.
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.
Cost and other considerations
Some online therapy programs and services are free on publicly available websites. Other treatment may be available if you pay a fee. There are also the costs of the technology and data to think about.
You should consider privacy issues and whether an online therapist has appropriate qualifications before agreeing to treatment.
Where do I start?
You can read more about eTherapy at Mental Health Online, or you can find out whether it may help you by talking to your doctor or mental health professional.
You can also find more information at:
- MindSpot — a national online and telephone assessment and treatment service for adults with anxiety or depression.
- The BRAVE Program — offers a free online program for the prevention and treatment of anxiety in Australian children and young people aged 8–17 years, and their parents.
- eCentreClinic — has free online treatment courses for people with symptoms of worry, anxiety, stress, depression, low mood and more.
- e-couch — a self-help interactive program covering depression, generalised anxiety and worry, social anxiety, relationship breakdown, and loss and grief.
- moodgym — is designed for ages 15-25, and helps you identify and overcome problem emotions and show how to develop good coping skills for the future.
- myCompass — provides a self-help guide to good mental health — it points you in the right direction.
- This Way Up — aims to reduce the impact of anxiety and depressive disorders.
- ReachOut.com — has reviewed mobile apps and tools to help you look after your health and wellbeing.
- Mental Health Online — provides free resources and services to help people experiencing mental health difficulties, including anxiety, panic attacks and depression.
If you are having a personal crisis or need other help, you should immediately contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or other crisis services.
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Last reviewed: October 2019