In recent years, the landscape of mental health care has seen a significant transformation with the emergence of online therapy. This innovative approach to psychotherapy has provided individuals with greater accessibility to mental health services, offering convenience and flexibility like never before.

Online therapy, also called virtual therapy, teletherapy or telepsychology, refers to psychotherapy provided by videoconference accessible through a computer, tablet or smartphone.

However, as with any form of treatment, online therapy comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s delve into the key benefits and possible drawbacks of online therapy to help you make an informed decision about whether it aligns with your needs.

Benefits of Online Therapy

1. Accessibility and Convenience:

One of the most significant advantages of online therapy is its accessibility. It eliminates geographical barriers, allowing individuals to access therapy sessions from the comfort of their own homes. This convenience is especially beneficial for those with limited mobility, busy schedules, or individuals residing in remote areas with limited access to in-person therapy services.

2. Enhanced Privacy and Comfort:

For some individuals, the setting of a therapist’s office might be intimidating or uncomfortable. Online therapy provides a more private and familiar environment, allowing clients to participate in sessions from a place where they feel secure and at ease. This increased comfort can encourage open and honest communication between the client and therapist.

3. Cost-Effectiveness:

Online therapy often tends to be more cost-effective compared to traditional in-person therapy. Clients can save on transportation expenses and potentially find more affordable therapy options online, making mental health care more accessible and budget-friendly.

4. Flexibility in Scheduling:

Online therapy offers greater flexibility in scheduling appointments. Clients can schedule their appointments during their lunchtime, before work or school, before the kids arrive home without the added hassle of driving back and forth and facing traffic. Many online therapists also offer extended hours or weekend availability making it easier to find a convenient time for sessions.

Is online therapy right for me?

Research shows that online therapy can be as effective as in-person therapy. However, online therapy might not be the best fit for everyone. You are encouraged to consider the following when deciding whether online therapy is right for you:

1. The Challenge: Technical and Connectivity Issues

One of the primary drawbacks of online therapy is the reliance on technology. Technical issues such as poor internet connectivity, audio or video disruptions, or platform glitches can interrupt the flow of a therapy session, leading to frustration and potential disruptions in communication.

What you can do:

Check with your internet provider to see how you can optimize your Wi-Fi bandwidth. Connect a few minutes before your appointment to check that your camera, microphone/headphones, and internet connection are working. Always have a phone number as a backup if the connection drops.

2. The Challenge: Access to a Quiet and Private Space

It is crucial that you feel at ease and comfortable during sessions. However, for some individuals or families their home environment might not be conducive to a quiet or private space for their sessions.

What you can do:

Use plug-in or Bluetooth headphones. Time your session with times when family members or roommates are away. Some individuals even conduct their sessions in a private room at school or work.

4. The Challenge: Security and Confidentiality Concerns

While online therapy platforms prioritize security measures to protect client confidentiality, there are still concerns about the privacy of sensitive information transmitted over the internet. Clients may worry about data breaches or unauthorized access to their personal information, leading to feelings of privacy and trust violation.

What you can do:

It is always recommended to discuss with your health care professional which strategies they use to safeguard your information. Any online practice should have a statement on how they protect their clients’ privacy online. You can also increase security on your end by always using a secure Wi-Fi connection (i.e., not public Wi-Fi), strong passwords, and making sure your antivirus software is up to date.

2. The Challenge: Limited Non-Verbal Cues

Therapists rely on non-verbal cues such as body language and facial expressions to better understand their clients. However, during online therapy, these cues may be less observable or more easily misinterpreted. This can lead to challenges with establish a strong therapeutic alliance.

What you can do:

Have an open discussion with your therapist about what to do if you feel there has been a miscommunication. It might also take more time for you and your therapist to build a good working relationship than in person.

Yes, online therapy has been shown to be effective for many individuals seeking mental health support, offering convenience, accessibility, and flexibility in scheduling sessions. Numerous studies have demonstrated its efficacy in treating various mental health conditions, with outcomes comparable to traditional in-person therapy. However, its effectiveness can vary depending on individual preferences. Having an introductory call with a therapist before hand can be a good way for you to ask questions and get a sense of whether online therapy is best for you.

Online therapy can be beneficial for managing anxiety by providing access to professional support from the comfort of one’s own space, reducing barriers like transportation or scheduling constraints. Many individuals find online therapy effective for addressing anxiety through various therapeutic approaches, including cognitive-behavioral techniques, mindfulness practices, and personalized counseling sessions tailored to their specific needs and circumstances. However, the effectiveness of online therapy for anxiety may differ based on individual preferences, the severity of anxiety symptoms, and the quality of the therapeutic relationship established during virtual sessions.

Online therapy typically involves connecting with a licensed therapist or counselor through video calls, phone calls, or messaging platforms. Sessions can resemble traditional in-person therapy, with discussions, exercises, and interventions tailored to address mental health concerns, but they occur remotely, allowing individuals to participate from their preferred location using a computer, smartphone, or tablet. Therapists employ various techniques, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness practices, and talk therapy, adapted to suit the online format, aiming to provide effective support and guidance to clients.

In summary

Ultimately, whether online therapy is suitable for you depends on your preferences, comfort level with technology, and specific therapeutic needs. Considering both the advantages and disadvantages can help individuals make an informed decision about whether online therapy is the right choice for their mental health journey. Clients are encouraged to discuss with their potential therapists if online is right for them.

Also read our blog on choosing a therapist.

dr. stephanie leon online child psychologist neuropsychologist in ontario quebec

Dr. Stephanie Leon

Dr. Leon is a clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist practicing in the province of Ontario and Quebec. She works with children, teens, and their parents to address emotional, behavioural, and cognitive difficulties. She offers online psychology services through the Leon Psychology Clinic.



In this blog, we’ll explore some of the most common types of mental health providers in Ontario and Quebec, shedding light on their education, roles, and distinctions. Whether you are seeking therapy for yourself or a loved one, having a grasp of the different mental health professionals can empower you to find the most suitable care that aligns with your needs.

What kind of therapist do I need?

A therapist is a general term to designate a trained mental health professional who specializes in providing support, guidance, and treatment for individuals experiencing psychological, emotional, or behavioral challenges.

Therapists may have different titles and qualifications based on their training and educational backgrounds. Let’s explore professionals that provide therapy (or more precisely, psychotherapy) in Ontario and Quebec:

What is a psychologist?

A clinical psychologist holds a doctoral and/or master’s degree in clinical psychology. Clinical psychology is the study of how people think, feel, and behave as well as the study of mental disorders and their treatment.

Psychologists who hold doctoral degrees can use the title of Doctor (Dr.). Psychologists are licensed and regulated by provincial regulating bodies (College of Psychologists of Ontario and the Ordre des psychologues du Québec). Psychologists have specific areas of competency, such as clinical neuropsychology and child psychology.

Psychologists are uniquely trained to use psychological tests to inform assessments and diagnose psychological disorders. They are also experts in providing a variety of evidence-based psychotherapy to address psychological issues.

What is a psychiatrist?

Psychiatrists are medical doctors (M.D.) who go on to specialize in mental disorders. Psychiatrists are expert in using medication to help their patients. For this reason, they tend to be more involved in treating those with severe mental health disorders and are often found in hospitals.

Nevertheless, psychiatrists can also perform psychotherapy and work in community settings. For more information on the study and practice of psychiatry, you can visit the Canadian Psychiatric Association website.

What is a psychotherapist?

Psychotherapists are health care professional that provide psychotherapy. Psychotherapists can hold bachelor’s or master’s degrees.

Psychotherapists hope to facilitate human change through psychotherapy. Most commonly they work to address wellness, relationships, personal growth, career development, mental health, and psychological illness or distress.

In Ontario, Registered Psychotherapists are authorized to perform the controlled act of psychotherapy if they are part of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. In Quebec, psychotherapists have to be registered with the Ordre des psychologues du Québec.

What is a social worker?

Social workers provide psychotherapy services to individuals, couples, families, groups, and communities. Many Social Workers in private practice, but they also work in clinics, hospitals and other health establishments. Social Workers’ training is very holistic, and they will often target community services in their approach to relieving distress.

To know more about social work practice visit the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers and the Ordre des travailleurs sociaux et des thérapeutes conjugaux et familiaux du Québec.

What is psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy, also called ‘‘talk therapy’’ or simply ‘‘therapy’’, is a way to help people with a variety of emotional difficulties and mental disorders. Psychotherapy is a treatment that aims to help a person function better and increase their well-being.

Psychotherapy can be conducted in an individual, family, couple, or group setting, and can help individuals of any age. Short-term psychotherapy can involve a few sessions to address immediate difficulties, whereas long-term psychotherapy can involve months or years of support for longstanding and complex issues.

Treatment goals and session frequency and duration are planned jointly by the client and psychologist. A trusting relationship between the client and their therapist is essential to working together effectively and benefiting from psychotherapy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean when a therapist is ”licensed” or ”registered”?

Provinces tightly regulated the provision of health care services to protect the public. Regardless of which mental health care professional you choose, it is important to check if they are registered or licensed by a regulatory body. This will ensure that someone has checked the person’s credentials, that they have sufficient hours of practice and that they are practicing within their scope. Unfortunately, bad experiences do happen, and regulatory bodies provide a way for the public to make a complaint against a professional if necessary.

A directory search on the college or association that a professional belongs to is a quick and easy way to check if they are licensed.

Can a psychologist prescribe medication?

No. In Ontario and Quebec, only psychiatrists and family physicians can prescribe medications to treat mental disorders. Although psychologists do not prescribe, they have experience coordinating care with their clients’ physicians and are trained in providing psychotherapy for individuals who are taking medication.

Do I need a physician referral to see a psychologist?

No. However, your private insurance might require a physician referral to reimburse you. Please verify with your insurance provider.

Do I need a physician referral to see a psychiatrist?

Yes. A psychiatrist is a medical specialty. Your primary care provider can refer to a psychiatrist if they feel they cannot manage your mental health issues or medication themselves.

Wait, so what is counselling then?

Many professionals and groups will use counselling and psychotherapy synonymously. For more information visit the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association.

Navigating the landscape of mental health providers and therapists can be a daunting task, especially when seeking the right professional help. From psychologists and psychiatrists to psychotherapists and social workers, the spectrum of mental health providers in Ontario and Quebec is diverse, each with unique qualifications and approaches to addressing mental health concerns.

dr. stephanie leon online child psychologist neuropsychologist in ontario quebec

Dr. Stephanie Leon

Dr. Leon is a clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist practicing in the province of Ontario and Quebec. She works with children, teens, and their parents to address emotional, behavioural, and cognitive difficulties. She offers online psychology services through the Leon Psychology Clinic.

You can also read our article about online therapy.

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