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By now, most people are aware of online or virtual therapy’s benefits to treat a myriad of adult mental health issues. Using a tablet, computer, or smartphone, you can easily join a therapist in a session without even needing to leave your home. And the same is true for children.

How Does This Work?

You may be asking yourself if online therapy is right for your child. Some parents worry that their child will not be engaged or will not pay attention to the therapist. Children seem to like the control they have in a session, such as using online whiteboards and navigating to websites with helpful information. Children like that they are in a comfortable environment and can take breaks if needed.
 
Other parents worry that their children will not benefit because they are not close. Or that they will not have access to techniques commonly used in play therapy, like props, such as toys, dollhouses, sand trays, puppets, drawing materials, and other commonly used items with children. Children enjoy being in their own surroundings, and sometimes being further from the therapist helps them feel more comfortable and less nervous about the process.
 
You may also wonder if your child is too young for online therapy. As long as your child has some verbal skills and can follow basic instructions, they can often engage in online therapy.
 
You may think that in-person therapy is the only way for your child to connect. Fortunately, online therapy has shown to be beneficial and provides a good option to support more children and families.

Online Therapy Has Many Benefits

  • Children can meet with their therapist from the privacy and comfort of their home. You no longer have to worry about the stigma of therapy or who you will see as you travel to your child’s therapy appointment. Your child can find a comfortable place, such as their bedroom or another quiet room.
  • Your child can bring props and other helpful items to the session. While it is true that your therapist will not be physically present in the room, many online platforms and tools can be used to help your child engage in and benefit from sessions. Also, your child can bring items that they enjoy, which can be incorporated into therapy. These can include their favorite stuffed animals, art supplies, toys, Legos, or books.
  • Your child may already be very familiar with how to navigate the internet and engage in therapy appointments.  Children today are often very comfortable with electronic devices.  They are very aware of how to turn them on and connect to the internet. Online appointments usually involve clicking on a link in your email which signs your child into the virtual appointment room. You can easily assist your child if they need help.
  • Online therapy provides flexibility in scheduling.  You can schedule therapy appointments at times that work best for your busy schedule. This means no longer cajoling your child or other children into the car or making childcare arrangements for your other kids. You also no longer need to drive long distances, find parking, or wait in a waiting room for appointments.  You can also easily attend appointments with your child as appropriate and necessary.
  • Access to therapy appointments is easier and more convenient.  Much of the atrophy from therapy has little to do with the actual therapy but more to do with inconveniences attributed to traveling to appointments.  There is more continuity and consistency once you eliminate those impediments. More of the much-needed work can now take place to help your child grow.

Online Therapy is a Viable Option for Many Children and Teens

Of course, some children will not be able to fully participate, particularly if they are in crisis, such as self-harming or expressing suicidal thoughts. Some may just be more comfortable with in-person therapy. That’s okay too. Having the option for children to participate in online therapy has opened doors for many, including children whose parents have limited availability in their schedules or those that would not have enrolled their child in therapy otherwise. More children are now getting the support they need. Younger children are receiving earlier interventions, saving them from much heartache and aggravation as they get older. For teens, this is especially empowering. While they still need their parents’ permission to participate in therapy, they can engage in therapy much more independently. They can have much more control over the schedule and the level of privacy. For an adolescent striving for autonomy, this can be very motivating when considering whether to engage in therapy.
 
The decision as to whether to enroll your child in online therapy is ultimately up to you as a parent.  Knowing that online therapy is an option can be very gratifying as you search for a therapist to help your child.