Online CBT Therapy: One on one vs. an online course.

Comparing a cognitive behavioural therapy online course with one-to-one CBT can be confusing, especially if you are unsure about what exactly CBT is in the first place.

This post will be exploring CBT, comparing cognitive behavioral therapy courses and one-to-one CBT (face-to-face or through skype therapy sessions as offered at Psychology Help) as well as providing some tips on where to get cognitive behavioral therapy online and one-to-one from.

online cbt therapy

What is CBT?

CBT stands for cognitive behavioural therapy, it is an evidence-based therapy which is widely used to treat a range of mental health conditions. In CBT the focus is on the current problems and symptoms that are being experienced rather than focusing on the past.

CBT understands mental health issues and problems as recurring cycles of negative or distressing thoughts, feelings and physical sensations. This circle can be triggered by multiple situations and events. CBT takes the approach that it is the reactions to events, thoughts and feelings that needs addressing and altering, rather then the thoughts, events or feelings themselves.


cognitive behavioral therapy online

How does CBT work?

CBT approaches the healing process by breaking the cycle into smaller parts; the client and therapist work together to challenge and ultimately change the client’s reactions to parts of the cycle via cognitive and behavioural elements. The goal of CBT is for the client to transfer the skills and techniques learned in therapy to their day to day life.

This basic process can be used to treat a range of issues.

What issues can CBT be useful for?

CBT can be used for a variety of issues and conditions including:


Online cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety can be very useful for addressing anxiety. Online CBT for anxiety involves identifying and altering challenging thoughts, feelings and situations that initiate and maintain feelings and symptoms of anxiety.


Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia online can also be very effective. Online CBT therapy focuses on both cognitive factors that may be preventing sleep, such as distressing thoughts and worries, and on behavioural factors that may be preventing sleep such as a negative sleeping environment or behavioural and lifestyle factors.

Other issues that can be approached with online CBT therapy include PTSD, OCD and stress


What are the differences between cognitive behavioral therapy programs and one-to-one sessions of CBT?

Now that CBT has been introduced this blog post will explore the main differences between a cognitive behavioral therapy online course and CBT one-to-one with a trained professional.

Online CBT Course

Cognitive behavioral therapy programs often require either a one-off purchase, or a monthly subscription (although some online CBT therapy may be accessed for free via the NHS). After signing up to the online course clients work through the course at their own pace by following the instructions given in the course.

This may include; identifying thoughts, emotions and events which trigger the issue that the client is seeking therapy for and challenging and changing the components of the cycle which are maintaining the problems. This process may differ depending on the individual’s issues that they wish to address. There will be several different sections including work sheets to fill in which are designed to address the client’s issues.

Although a time frame suggestion will be given to the client (for example complete part one over two to three days), as an online course is self-guided it is up to the client how fast or slowly they wish to complete the course.

One-to-one CBT

In contrast to a cognitive behavioral therapy online course, one-to-one CBT can take various forms, including face-to-face and via skype. One-to-one therapy involves a therapist and a client discussing the client’s issues they wish to address, once the main issue is chosen the client and therapist will explore the maintaining thoughts, feelings and events. Together they will explore the vicious circle maintaining the factors that are causing issues for the client. The client will then be set cognitive and behavioural work to challenge the components of the circle. Again, this will differ dependent on the issues that are being addressed.

Therefore, the main difference that exists between a cognitive behavioral therapy online course and one-to-one CBT is the physical or virtual presence of a therapist. Via one-to-one CBT clients may remain more motivated as they may feel more supported through their therapy, rather then carrying out the work by themselves.

What are the advantages of one-to-one therapy over an online CBT course? 

Emotional support

For people who prefer face to face interaction and have a need for social support one-to-one therapy may be more suitable. One-to-one CBT sessions allow the client to work with a therapist in real-time to identify, challenge and change their reactions to situations, and their thoughts and feelings. For example, individuals completing online CBT for anxiety may require more emotional one-to-one support during the examination of factors linked to and maintaining anxiety, in this case one-to-one therapy may be more appropriate.


One to one CBT can be more motivational for clients then online courses of CBT. This is due to the added support interaction that therapy one to one with a therapist can offer. They can slow the therapy down if the clients non-verbal or verbal suggests they need it, or if therapeutic progress is not being achieved different techniques can be introduced. An online course is predetermined and rigid, the client gains the material needed for the course and is left to complete their online course themselves which may agree with people who have good time management and stay easily self-motivated but may disagree with people who may struggle with staying motivated by themselves.

Suitable for people with more complex needs

One-to-one CBT therapy – whether over skype or in person – is more suitable for people with complex issues. This is because there is a trained health professional present who may monitor the clients progress through traditional CBT, adapt the CBT to better suit the individuals needs, or they may recognise that CBT may not be suitable for the client and recommend another form of therapy. Attending CBT one-to-one also enables a therapist to determine the clients ongoing moods to assess whether CBT is right for the individual in question.


cbt online

Advantages of an online CBT course over one-to-one CBT therapy


Internet cognitive behavioral therapy through a course can be completed when and where the client wants. Although skype CBT can take place when and where the client wants, once there is an appointment booked some of the flexibility can be removed due to the set time. With an online course there is no set time, location or date for therapy. Through self-guided help the client completes the course at their own pace, so if an emergency or a disruption occurs they can simply reschedule their therapy without notifying anybody else. Physical and virtual one-to-one therapy can be rescheduled but this requires an email, or a phone call being made, lessening the convenience slightly.

Absence of Face to Face contact

Just as one-to-one CBT has the advantage of being face to face, this can also be a disadvantage to some people. Whilst some clients will prefer face to face (virtual or physical) others will prefer completing their CBT without face to face contact. This may be due to having a form of social anxiety or it may be simple personal preference. If this is the case, then online CBT therapy via a course will be more suitable for the client.

How to start an online CBT course or one-to-one CBT sessions and where to get cognitive behavioral therapy

There are many websites offering internet cognitive behavioral therapy via a course or one-to-one virtual CBT sessions. Using different search terms depending on your individual issues may be a useful way of finding where to get cognitive behavioral therapy online.

For example, if you want to address insomnia using the search term ‘cognitive behavioral therapy insomnia online’ or ‘cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia online’ may provide websites suitable for your needs. Alternatively, using the terms ‘online cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety’ or ‘online CBT for anxiety’ would return suitable results for somebody looking to address their anxiety.

Before committing to a CBT course or sessions you should first check the credentials of the people who are providing the service.

If it is an online course who is it written by?

Is it written by a layperson or has it been written and designed by a mental health professional?

If you are seeking one-to-one CBT sessions is the therapist offering them qualified?

How many years of experience do they have practising?

What are their chosen specialties, and do they match up to your needs?

These are just some of the questions that need answering before beginning one-to-one CBT or an online course or CBT. Once the website or therapist has answered these questions you should then think about your own needs, do you need real time one to one contact to feel supported and motivated, or do you prefer to complete therapy by yourself?

In cases where an online course must be paid for in full before beginning, if you are unsure which type of CBT is best for you it may be more useful to attend a one of one to one CBT session. A one to one CBT session, such as the sessions offered by psychology help, has no commitment attached and will allow you to explore whether one to one CBT is right for you without paying out for multiple sessions or committing to an online course.

As an added bonus, you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your own home so long as you have a device capable of accessing skype and an internet connection!

Learn more about our online therapy sessions.

Effective, convenient, and affordable skype sessions.