Online therapy: who can do it and how does the session work?

Starting psychological treatment is not always a simple task. The difficulty of establishing schedules on a daily basis, for example, is one of the factors that may make it necessary to advance mental health care .

However, more and more, the online (or remote) service modality has become popular and bringing benefits to some people. See what an online therapy session is like, who can do it and how to choose a professional:

How does online therapy work?

Online therapy is a form of psychotherapy that occurs through the internet. For this, psychologists and patients can conduct sessions via video call, e-mails, exchange of messages, among others.

Many professionals prefer the video call in order to follow the expressions and movements of patients, who can give important information to the therapist.

However, this does not mean that the other methods (e-mail, text messages, among others) are not effective. In the end, the most important thing is to find a resource with which the patient feels comfortable.

In the case of video calls, sessions tend to last an average of 50 minutes, as is the average of face-to-face calls. However, the time of the sessions can be changed according to the needs of each patient.

The most important is confidentiality, therefore, the channels used for communication must be encrypted and secure so that the information discussed in therapy is not “leaked”.

Many people question whether online therapy is effective, given the major changes in the traditional model of psychotherapy. Studies have already shown that the remote modality is effective and that clients are able to achieve the same benefits as in-person therapy.

There is also the differential of a lower rate of treatment withdrawal, which can place it as even more effective than the face-to-face in certain contexts.

Although many countries have already used online therapy for some years, the Federal Council of Psychology only approved the practice in Brazil in 2018, through Resolution CFP 011/2018.

Until 2012, psychologists could do online counseling with a limited number of sessions. In 2018, however, psychology professionals were allowed to attend online, with unlimited number of sessions.

Can everyone do therapy online?

Although online therapy is an alternative for many people, not everyone can do remote monitoring. In resolution CFP 11/2018, it is foreseen that online service is prohibited in the following cases:

  • People and groups in emergencies and disasters;
  • People and groups in situations of violation of rights or violence.

In these two cases, therapy should be exclusively face-to-face.

For all other cases, online service is a viable alternative. In addition, some people may benefit more from online therapy.

This is because some conditions of depression and anxiety are so limiting that the individual may have a hard time leaving home and attending face-to-face therapy. So, online therapy helps a lot.

In addition, it also helps those who do not have access to face-to-face therapy, either because they are living abroad and do not speak another language, for example, or because they live in a region with little offer of psychology professionals.

Despite being a modality for everyone, some things can hinder online therapy. First, it is necessary that patients have privacy to participate in the sessions.

The service may not be as beneficial if the session is constantly interrupted by family members or other demands that would not occur in the face-to-face service.

The issue of confidentiality is also important. Issues such as problems with the family are very common in the office, so providing care in a place where other family members can hear can end up causing disagreements and impairing the therapeutic process.

Therefore, for people who do not have access to a private place where they can talk about interruptions and without others listening, online therapy may not be very suitable. In such cases, the individual should preferably seek face-to-face therapy.

Benefits: why do online therapy?

The first benefit is, of course, the effects of therapy, which can help to deal with symptoms of mental disorders, assist in problem solving, be an aid to deal with periods of crises and major changes in life, among others. However, all of this is expected in face-to-face therapy as well.

Specific online therapy has a number of advantages, such as:

Greater convenience of schedules

Most face-to-face therapies take place during business hours, which is not feasible for everyone. Many people work, study and are unable to attend therapy during office hours.

In online therapy, therapists can attend outside business hours, as they do not depend on the functioning of the physical office, which makes life easier for those who need therapy but cannot comply with these hours.

Greater savings

Face-to-face therapy sessions usually cost an average of R $ 226, while online therapy sessions can be found from R $ 70. In addition, there is savings in expenses such as transportation, food, among others.

Therapy wherever you are

Are you going to travel? Moving to another city, state or even another country? In the past, this was synonymous with having therapy interrupted and even the need to seek a new therapist. With online therapy, this is no longer an issue.

Anywhere that has an internet connection is enough to keep track. It is no longer necessary to cancel sessions when traveling, and it is possible to continue with the same therapist even if you live many miles away.

This is good because for many people, making the transition to another professional can be difficult, especially when the therapeutic relationship is very well regarded by the patient.

Tips for finding and choosing professionals over the internet

Currently, there are a lot of websites and apps promising online therapy that charge more affordable prices for sessions. So, how to find a good professional in the midst of so many options?

The first tip is to look for reliable sites. Not all sites and applications that make this connection between therapists and patients are reliable, as not all require training in psychology, for example.

Beware of those who promise prompt treatment and without much bureaucracy – sometimes, “therapists” undergo basic training offered by the website itself, but they are not psychologists trained to deal with certain crises that individuals with psychological disorders may have.

Always remember to check the origin of the platform that offers this type of service, look for the evaluation of the service on online complaint sites, among others. This way, the chances are less that you will end up doing a “therapy” that is not really psychotherapy.

If you found a nice psychologist on social media, for example, see if he makes the CRP number available and check if the number really exists. This can be done by consulting the website of the Regional Councils of Psychology or by calling the telephone.

This is the only way to know if the psychologist is registered with the Regional Council of Psychology and if he is properly regulated to attend via the internet.


Online therapy can be a very effective way for patients to initiate or continue their psychological treatments. With some care when choosing professionals, the sport can bring more convenience and comfort.

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