The post-COVID-19 era has seen a significant rise in the demand for online mental health services across the globe. This has also led to the rise of online therapy in India. One of the most common and popular online therapy approaches is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This approach is widely used in the treatment of various issues, such as anxiety, depression and phobias. However, many people still wonder if CBT can be effective if it is done online. In this article, we’ll explore online CBT in depth

Understanding CBT

CBT is an evidence-based talk therapy that focuses on helping people modify or change their negative thoughts and unhelpful behaviours and replace them with more positive or helpful ways of thinking and behaving. It can help manage and overcome issues such as anxiety, depression, addictions, sleep issues, negative thoughts, etc.

Conventionally, CBT has always been practised in in-person settings or face-to-face sessions. However, due to the rise in the use of technology, CBT is now available through online sessions as well. Online CBT has many advantages as well. Let’s explore them in the next section

Advantages of Online CBT

  • Convenience For Clients

One of the biggest advantages of online CBT is its convenience and easy accessibility. People can now attend CBT-based sessions. from the comfort of their homes or any location with internet access. Increased accessibility has opened the doors of therapy for many people who have previously struggled to attend in-person therapy due to various reasons such as distance, mobility issues, or scheduling conflicts. 

  • More Options 

Online CBT has also eliminated the limitations that come with geographical boundaries. People can now choose from a larger pool of qualified therapists who specialize in CBT or even specific mental health concerns. This can lead to better matches between clients and therapists, enhancing the overall therapeutic experience.

  • Reduced Stigma

Online CBT helps people avoid the stigma that may come with physically visiting a therapist’s office every week. This might motivate more and more people to seek therapy

  • Effectiveness

The biggest advantage of online CBT is its effectiveness. Multiple research studies show that online CBT can be as effective as in-person CBT. We’ll explore the effectiveness of online CBT in the next section.

Is Online CBT Effective?

Yes, there is considerable evidence to suggest that online CBT can be effective. In 2020, a combined analysis of 17 studies done on electronically delivered CBT (eCBT) found that online CBT can be effective in reducing symptoms of depression. In fact, in some studies, it was also found that eCBT can be a more effective form of treatment as compared to in-person CBT

Another combined analysis of 20 studies in 2018 compared online CBT and in-person CBT for depression and various anxiety disorders, including social anxiety. The analysis concluded that online CBT was equally effective as in-person CBT in treating anxiety and depression. Thus, research suggests that online CBT is effective.

Limitations Of Online CBT

Even though online CBT is effective, it has it’s shortcomings and limitations as well. Some are:

  • Therapeutic Relationship

Some clients may find it challenging to feel connected or build a rapport with the therapist in virtual sessions. In such scenarios, the therapist must be skilled and ensure that the client feels safe and heard during sessions.

  • Exposure Therapy

One of the techniques used in CBT is exposure therapy, where an individual is encouraged to face challenging situations in the presence of the therapist. It is particularly effective for anxiety and phobias to reduce fear. However, it might be harder to implement exposure therapy in online sessions. Again, a lot depends on the skill of the therapist


In summary, yes it is possible to do CBT sessions online. In fact, online CBT has been effective as well. However, it is important to remember that online CBT can sometimes be challenging for both clients and therapists.  Thus, one needs to be mindful and consider their comfort before choosing a mode of therapy for themselves.


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Dhruva Koranne

Dhruva Koranne has completed his Masters in Applied Psychology from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, BALM. He has been practicing as a counsellor since 2020 and works to create a safe space for clients where they can open up. In addition to this, Dhruva loves researching and studying about upcoming theories in the field of Psychology. Connect with him on Linkedin