Research: Almost a third of young people surveyed would choose online therapy

A study published in 2019 the Journal Internet Interventions found that 31% of responders would choose online therapy over face-to-face therapy.

Photo by John Schnobrich

The academics from the School of Applied Psychology, Behavioural Basis of Health, and the Menzies Health Institute Queensland at Griffith University, alongside an academic from the School of Psychology, Counselling and Community at the University of Southern Queensland, surveyed 217 young people, aged between 13 and 18 years old, to understand their attitudes towards accessing mental health support online.

The study found that the most likely form of support in the event of future mental health difficulties would be a Psychologist or a Counsellor, with many also suggesting that information websites are a valuable source of support in difficult times.

However, even though many of those surveyed agreed that online therapy would be helpful, a majority would choose face-to-face sessions rather than online.  That said, as this study was published prior to the start of the coronavirus response that has seen many counsellors and psychotherapists move to working online, it’s not clear if respondents would give a similar answer today.

The authors of the study have noted that there does appear to be a trend in positive attitudes towards online therapy from young people, which may suggest that as we become more comfortable with accessing services online, more people will turn to choose online therapy. Indeed, having a greater knowledge of the online therapies and choices that exist for young people seemed to align with how likely they would value and access therapy online.

As we enter a period of global change with online therapy being presented as the only option for people seeking psychological support, it will be interesting to see how attitudes towards online counselling shift.

By William Smith, MSSc, BSc, MBACP

Will (he/his) is a psychological counsellor specialising in change, identity and gender. He holds a Master of Social Science degree in Gender Studies and a Bachelor of Psychology (with Honours) degree. Will's a Registered Member (No. 375157) of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and a Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society (BPS).