Can Text Counseling Help Someone?

By Nicola Kirkpatrick

Updated January 31, 2019

It is almost a given that most people will face a mental health issue at some point during their lives, whether just a temporary loss of focus or a more serious condition such as chronic anxiety or insomnia. In fact, approximately 44 million adults in the United States experience some sort of mental health condition at one point in their lives. That is almost one in every five or 18.3% of American adults. In every case, professional counseling from a psychologist or trained counselor can be of huge help in these times, but not everybody can make use of their services, for reasons ranging from location to finances. Online services are now available to people in this position, but you may be wondering: Can text counseling be an effective form of therapy?

How Text Counseling Works

Although the specifics vary between different types of mental health services, the following describes more or less the ideal way that online therapy can work. First, you will contact the service you think most suitable, who will probably ask you a few questions about yourself during registration - your details will remain confidential at every stage, and all of your correspondence and most of your personal information will only be available to a counselor of your choosing. In fact, you can remain completely anonymous if it makes you feel more comfortable. That is one of the best things about online therapy and counseling; the ability to remain anonymous.


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Choosing the Right Counselor

Next, you will enter a kind of trial period (which may be free) during which your case is evaluated by a licensed, trained counselor or psychologist to determine what kind of treatment is most suitable for you in particular. This is decided between you and the mental health expert that you speak to and all of the information that he or she gets from you will be anonymous and in fact, is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) law. During this trial period, both you and the mental health expert will determine how well you two mesh so that you can be sure to get a therapist who is right for you.

Depending on what kinds of challenges you are facing and some other factors, you will be assigned to a mental health expert who specializes in that area. The better online therapy providers such as BetterHelp.com have counselors who specialize in everything from addiction issues to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), so you need not to rely on the expertise of only one person, however, qualified that individual may be. If a particular councilor does not work out for you, which may be the case for any of a variety of reasons, requesting a different one is usually no problem. And you can switch as many times as you want to. BetterHelp.com wants you to be comfortable with whoever you choose so it is up to you to choose the best fit.

How You Can Communicate

From here on, you can communicate with your mental health expert by text, chat, and email or schedule a virtual appointment for a phone call or video conference on a platform such as Skype or Facetime. The choice is up to you and you do not have to choose just one. This makes things more convenient for you as you can text or message your counselor any time of the day or night any day of the week. Due to the nature of the arrangement, however, most communication will probably take the form of the written word and will not necessarily be in real time. So, how effective can therapy by email really be?


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The Effectiveness of Text Counseling

Surprisingly, research has shown that the idea that online therapy has effects comparable to traditional, "lie on my couch" techniques. In fact, in some cases, text counseling can be more effective because it gives some people the opportunity that they do not have with traditional therapy. For example, those with certain mental health conditions that make it difficult for them to leave the house, those with no transportation, or those who live in rural areas where there is no public transportation.

All people are not the same and the type of counseling that works best for you may be different from other people. One of the biggest challenges that mental health experts often face is overcoming a patient's natural reluctance to share their innermost thoughts and fears. For some, it may be easier to talk to a person who is physically in the same room, but equally, you might find it easier to write down your feelings, knowing that the only person who will read your words is someone you will likely never meet in the flesh.

The Benefits of Text Counseling

Individuals who suffer from depression often have a hard time making or keeping appointments because at times they do not even want to get out of bed, let alone go to an office to talk to a therapist. For them, text counseling is a blessing. In addition, those who have anxiety disorders such as social anxiety disorder (SAD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have a hard time leaving the house, being in public or talking to strangers. For these individuals, online or text therapy can be a lifesaver. Normally, those who are unable to go out in public or talk to strangers would avoid getting treatment because of their mental illness and being able to communicate in writing is so much easier for them that online therapy is their only choice.


Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Written communication is less spontaneous but also tends to be more thoughtful. In fact, many people find it much easier to communicate their true feelings through writing rather than in person or even talking on the telephone. Young people are especially reluctant to share their innermost thoughts and emotions with anyone, but they are all so used to being able to communicate their thoughts through text that text counseling may be their best option. This is also an excellent choice for those who do not have health insurance or those whose health insurance does not cover mental health care. With BetterHelp.com, you will only pay $40 to $70 per week rather than the $250 to $500 per hour that a traditional therapist typically charges.

Just about any mental health condition can be helped by text therapy including depression, anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, addiction, eating disorders, ADHD and ADD, relationship counseling, and family therapy. The only time that text counseling is not appropriate is when you need medication because the medication cannot be prescribed without seeing a psychiatrist or doctor in person. However, your online counselor can refer you to someone in your area who can help you. If you choose to go the text counseling route, you will have the opportunity to thoroughly consider what you want to say and the time to determine what your feelings on a given topic really are. If this appeals to you, text counseling is likely right for you.


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