What is online therapy?
Online therapy (also known as eTherapy) is psychological support, information, online counselling and other help that is provided online 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 for a psychological issue. Some offer web seminars. Others have structured online programs. Some programs offer an online counsellor or online psychologist to talk to, while others don't.
Online therapy can be a very effective way of helping most people. Online therapy can help different mental health conditions including:
- postnatal depression
- panic disorder
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
What are the 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.
ReachOut.com has reviewed mobile apps and tools to help you look after your health and wellbeing.
Head to Health helps you to find mental health resources from trusted service providers.
You can also find more information at:
- MindSpot — a national online and telephone assessment and treatment service for adults experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, and chronic pain.
- The BRAVE Program — an interactive, online program for the prevention and treatment of childhood and adolescent anxiety. The programs are free, and provide ways for children and teenagers to better cope with their worries. There are also programs for 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 — like an interactive self-help book which 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 — it points you in the right direction.
- This Way Up — a step-by-step way of tackling feelings of stress, anxiety, and low mood with clinically-proven online courses.
- Mental Health Online — free online services to help you understand and address your needs through self-assessment, self-help and, if you choose, online professional support.
If you are having a personal crisis or need other help, you should immediately contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or other crisis services.
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: October 2021