I get asked this question all the time: from professionals, from prospective clients, from strangers on the street (well not really, but sometimes!).  And like most blogs I write, the answer isn’t simple OR short-winded!

I became interested in online therapy after I moved my practice from the metropolitan area of New York to rural New Hampshire. After I did a six month follow-up phone call to all of the clients that I had referred to other therapists in New York when I left, I realized that many of my clients didn’t pursue the referrals I had given them, didn’t connect with the therapists that I had referred them to as well as they connected to me, and weren’t continuing therapy because of it. Since this was years ago and there weren’t a lot of rules or regulations surrounding online therapy or being an online therapist, I began seeing a few clients online and over the phone.

Fast forward three years and as I shifted my focus from working with couples and families to only working as a sex therapist with individuals and couples.  I kept encountering questions and raised eyebrows about my work as an online sex therapist (I also encountered a lot of enthusiasm and support along the way as well!).  I’ve compiled these into my Ten Reasons Why Online Sex Therapy Works (Maybe Better Than In-Person Sex Therapy?).

1. Accesibility
I would often get calls from people all over the states that I was working in looking for sex therapy.  There aren’t a lot of sex therapists available and in many rural areas there aren’t even therapists available.  More and more people kept calling me looking for sex therapy in their area and I had no where to send them. And as I expanded my licensure to the states of Maine, Massachusetts, and Texas, I realized that there were more and more people that needed my services in those states.

2. Privacy
Living and working in a small rural New Hampshire town (my office was literally across the street from my condo) I found that it was very easy to get to know the community relatively quickly. I started my practice in metropolitan New York and I think one I time I ran into a client out and about. But in the town I was practicing in and the surrounding areas, it was impossible not to have that overlap. My clients at times seemed more comfortable with it than me; however, there were several times where clients or prospective clients would call and come in and realize that there was a common element and decided to not pursue therapy.  The more and more I was working in sex therapy, the more and more I was realizing that people didn’t always feel all that comfortable talking to someone that lived in their community about their sexual life.

3.  The Dreaded Waiting Area

Most therapists put a lot of energy and time into designing and decorating our waiting areas. We want the areas to be comfortable, clean, welcoming, and relaxing. Depending on your location and your facility, you may or may not be able to achieve that.  As my sex therapy practice became more and more popular, I realized that the waiting room was a source of intimidation for new clients.  Especially since the last office I had was across from a yoga studio and a ballet studio and had a common shared waiting space and my clients often would come to session during busy class times where parents were also waiting for their children in those classes or yogis were waiting for the next class. This made things very hard on my practice and my clients. It’s very difficult to maintain confidentiality in a waiting space, especially a shared waiting space. And I began to realize that many clients would prefer to not have to sit in a waiting room (or even walk through the doors to a building that housed a sex therapist) to go to sex therapy.

4. Let’s Talk About Sex
Fact: It’s not always that easy to talk about sex. Fact: It’s not always that easy to talk about sex in front of someone that you’re just meeting for the first time. I do think some of my clients find it easier to talk to me about sex over the phone or over the computer. The fact of the matter is a lot of folks don’t have good communication skills, and a lot of folks don’t have good communication skills around sex. Being able to provide online sex therapy has opened up a lot of opportunities for folks who struggle with communicating about sex. I realize that I’d rather do therapy with the whole picture from a distance than therapy with just a portion of the picture in-person. And if this sounds like an interesting and novel idea, check out my blog on Text Therapy.  Now if communication about sex is one of the clients’ issues and one of the clients’ goals, we may eventually move toward meeting in person for therapy as a therapeutic goal. For that reason I periodically see my clients in person if it’s possible a few times a year. I really try to meet all my clients in person at least once.

5. Convenience
Another fact: People are busy! Especially people with sexual issues. I find that a common element with most people with sexual issues, and I say most, is that they’re pretty busy. And oftentimes by the time they get to me there in other therapeutic programs, other meetings, other groups, and often don’t really have time for another appointment that includes travel, traffic, parking, etc. Being an online sex therapist, and doing sex therapy online, allows my clients to conveniently schedule appointments at times that work for them: their lunch hour, after the kids go to bed, in their parked car before they go home from work. Any of these arrangements have proved to be very convenient for my clients. Especially in doing online sex therapy in metropolitan New York and New York City.  Those clients can commute up to three hours ONE WAY to get into work.  Tell me when they might have time to go to sex therapy? In general my clients find online therapy easier and more convenient than in-person therapy.  Because of that factor, my clients are often more committed to the therapeutic process and are less likely to stop therapy due to inconvenience or not having time.

6. A Window Into their REAL World
It’s amazing what seeing my clients in their natural environment can tell me about their situation. It’s a luxury we don’t get when your clients come to your office. But seeing the types of distractions that the clients face in their environment can really give a therapist insight into the impact that their home life has on their sexual life. For example, if your kids or dogs are constantly interrupting your therapy session, what do you think that’s doing for your sex life? Interesting point right?

7. Meet Them Where They Are At
One of the services that SexTherapy-Online offers is the online treatment of sex addiction and sexual compulsivity.  Online therapy for sex addiction is just one modality of treatment for sex addiction. There are many other treatment options for sex addiction (see my previous blog post here for more information) such as twelve-step programs, inpatient residential treatment programs, and outpatient treatment programs that are all very effective at treating sex addiction. What makes online sex addiction therapy interesting and different than those other modalities is that online sex addiction treatment takes place in the environment that many sex addictions start in, live in, and are maintained in: the Internet. It makes sense that one would treat the problem where the problem exists. If the problem exists with inappropriate behavior on the Internet, which many sex addictions have this component, it would make sense to also treat it using the Internet. One hour a week in one’s office is not a realistic environment. One hour a week on the Internet is a lot closer to home for someone who is struggling with sexual compulsivity that involves the use of the internet.

8. Increasing Therapeutic Opportunities for All
There are many times in a therapist’s career when clients will present with unique situations that will make it challenging to provide the best treatment possible. Online therapy, and specifically online sex therapy, provides therapeutic opportunity for clients that may be underserved by our traditional therapeutic models. For example, a transgender client in the process of transitioning who is very concerned and sensitive about their transition process may feel more comfortable staying at home and doing therapy from the comfort of their own home. For example, a client with a chronic stutter who has difficulty speaking and forming ideas in the verbal domain may feel more comfortable using text therapy as a modality with their therapist. For example, a client who has significant health concerns and has trouble leaving the home due to those concerns may find online therapy a more accessible model for receiving mental and behavioral health services. For example, the client who lives in an area with inconsistent weather patterns or perhaps difficult transportation options may find online therapy are more accessible option for receiving services. For example, the high-profile politician who is struggling with a sexual issue but is too fearful of being seen going to a therapists office can access online sex therapy services from the privacy of home.  Those clients that I just mentioned may have never dreamed of having access to a therapist, let alone a sex therapist. Imagine all the people that sat in silence, suffering with sexual issues that could be helped using online therapy.

9. Environmental Impact of Distance Based Therapy
Now is the time that my inner environmentalist comes out and discusses how time, energy, and resources are all conserved when conducting therapy at a distance. Instead of maintaining two offices, I maintain one. Instead of traveling to my office or my clients traveling to my office, we all stay in existing environments, saving on time, resources, and energy.  Therapy should be something that is accessible and convenient. We can each do our parts and by putting my entire practice online I no longer have any paper documents, I do not maintain two office spaces with two sets of utility bills, and I conserve my energy usage significantly.  Having a distance-based practice is my way of contributing to cutting down on the use of resources for both my clients and myself.

10. A New Technological Model of Therapy
An important concept that is a little bit hard to grasp for a traditional, in-person therapist (and a little underdeveloped in the field) is the fact that online therapy is not just a way to deliver therapy at a distance but rather a model of therapy within and of itself. Online therapy has essentially its own unique characteristics as a model of therapy such as position of the therapist, specific interventions related to online therapy, processes of joining and building rapport, and different components of assessment and intervention.  It is a therapeutic model AND modality.  Online Sex Therapy is effective and it works!


For more information, feel free to contact Rhiannon at 603.770.5099 or rhiannon@SexTherapy-Online.com.

Practicing in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Texas.