Most people will experience a mental health issue at some point during their lives, whether due to a major life change or stressful event or a chronic condition such as anxiety, depression, or a mood disorder. In fact, approximately one in five adults in the United States experiences some form of mental illness in any given year. Professional counseling can be of huge help in these times, but not everybody can utilize traditional therapy, for reasons ranging from location to finances. Online therapy services are now available, but you may be wondering: Can text counseling be an effective form of therapy?
How Text Counseling Works
Although the specifics of different service providers may vary, the basics of online and text counseling remain the same. After you contact a counseling service, a professional will ask you questions about yourself; your answers, as well as any correspondence or personal information you provide, will remain confidential. Only a counselor whom you choose to work with will be able to access your information, and you can even choose to remain anonymous if doing so will make you more comfortable. The option of anonymity is one of the biggest differences between online counseling and traditional counseling.
Next, you will enter a trial period, during which your case will be evaluated by the service to determine if your needs match what the service can provide. You will be matched with a counselor, and then you and your counselor will discuss your concerns and set treatment goals together.
Some online therapy providers, such as BetterHelp, offer counselors who specialize in everything from substance use issues to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If a particular counselor is not the perfect fit, for any reason, requesting a different one is usually no problem. With BetterHelp, you can switch as many times as you need to until you find the right match for your counseling needs.
How You Can Communicate
You can communicate with your counselor by chat or text message, or you can schedule a virtual appointment for a phone call or video conference on the platform. You are not limited to just one format, which makes things more convenient; you can message your counselor at any time. Due to the nature of text messaging, though, your conversation will not necessarily be in real time. So, how effective can online or text counseling really be?
The Effectiveness Of Text Counseling
Research has shown that online therapy has effects comparable to traditional therapy. 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 or medical 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, would not be able to easily or regularly access traditional therapy services. Additionally, a recent report from The Trevor Project stated that 76 percent of LGBTQ+ youth are actually more likely to reach out via text or chat in a time of crisis. Having these services available can be a lifeline.
That said, every person is unique, and the type of counseling that works best for you may be different from what works for others. One of the biggest challenges that mental health experts often face is overcoming a client’s reluctance to be open about topics for which they carry significant shame or fear judgment. For some people, it may be easy to talk to a counselor who is physically in the same room, but for others, it might be easier to write down their difficult feelings and thoughts and send them to a counselor. The social distance that text counseling provides allows for this flexibility.
The Benefits Of Text Counseling
Individuals with mental health disorders such as depression, social anxiety disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may struggle with making or keeping appointments because of the complexity of tasks required to attend an in-person meeting: self-care and hygiene, coordinating transportation, dealing with public environments like waiting rooms, talking face-to-face with a stranger in an unfamiliar place, and the energy required for all of these tasks. For individuals experiencing these obstacles, text counseling can be a great solution to access valuable support.
Written communication is less spontaneous but also tends to be more thoughtful. In fact, many people find it much easier to communicate their feelings through writing rather than in person or even talking on the telephone. Text counseling may provide an added level of processing to the conversation, allowing a person to work through their emotions and experiences even as they describe them to an online therapist.
Online counseling is also an excellent choice for individuals who do not have health insurance or whose health insurance does not cover mental health care. With an online service like BetterHelp, a flat rate allows unlimited access to ongoing support and therapy sessions. This access is very different from traditional therapy, which is charged per session and generally is not available more frequently than on a weekly basis.
Who Can Benefit From Online Counseling?
Anyone who has considered pursuing traditional counseling can benefit from online counseling. 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. Online therapy, like the services provided by BetterHelp, is a flexible solution for mental healthcare. Approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on finding inner strengths and building resiliency to new challenges, can be completed in virtual settings; in fact, a recent study of over 1,100 participants in online CBT found that 89 percent of participants would recommend online therapy to others.
If you are looking for mental healthcare support, a BetterHelp counselor can provide the services you need in a format that works with your life. If you live in an area where in-person services are not readily available, or if you have found that the obligations required to attend face-to-face therapy are prohibitively difficult for you, then you can access the guidance and expertise of a mental health professional by text message, email, phone call, or video chat by using a platform like BetterHelp. The first step to accessing a healthier, more fulfilling future is only a click away. Consider these reviews of BetterHelp counselors who have helped others access mental healthcare.
I've been working with Jennifer Evans for a few months now dealing with anxiety related issues and addressing long-standing negative coping mechanisms. I've made amazing progress in identifying underlying issues and establishing techniques to overcome my anxiety. Jennifer uses a variety of methods and tailors therapy based on feedback. She is quick to respond, is extremely caring and always insightful. I truly believe she has been integral to the progress I’ve made in a fairly short amount of time. I highly recommend this therapist and am encouraged by how effective online therapy can be.
I can’t say enough good things about Teresa Henson. She truly has shown me that regardless of this being her job she cares about people. She made me feel so comfortable especially since this was my first time doing online counseling. She is going through major battles in her life and still made sure to assist me whenever I needed. She took the time to give me tools that I could use in the future and has helped tremendously with the way I communicate with others. I will definitely come back and search for her. I wish her nothing but the best and know whoever is lucky enough to get her as a counselor is in great hands! Thanks so much for everything Teresa.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is it normal for a therapist to text you?
Texting, calling, and potentially emailing between sessions is a common practice for some therapists and can especially occur when a client is feeling especially overwhelmed. It is important to note that this differs from messaging therapy which is where texting or emailing are the main therapy platforms used to communicate between the therapist and the client.
Can I chat with a therapist online?
There are a number of online therapy platforms that allow you to chat with a therapist online. BetterHelp allows users to choose between video therapy, phone therapy, text therapy services, or a combination of these services. This allows the client to choose their preferred method of communication to help with their mental health issues and self esteem. Insurance companies are not involved with BetterHelp as well, keeping the entire experience as confidential as possible so no one feels like they are being limited by their insurance plans. Customer service is around 24/7 to answer any questions you may have about BetterHelp and these different therapy services. You can also use this email address XYZ to ask any questions you may have regarding BetterHelp
Is online therapy as effective as in person?
The short answer is yes. Research suggests that there is no difference between in-person and online therapy when it comes to patient satisfaction. The most important factors are how often one attends and the therapist one is working with. As long as the therapist and the client have a good relationship with each other, the experience should be both effective and enjoyable.
How much does therapy cost?
The cost of therapy depends on a number of factors including number of sessions, where you are located, whether it is covered by insurance, and whether you are doing individual or group therapy. As far as online therapy platforms and video sessions are concerned, BetterHelp costs range from $60 to $90 per week (billed every four weeks). In comparison, in-person therapy is priced at an average of $75-$150 per session and may contain sliding scale therapy fees. If you believe you or a loved one is seeking out therapy because of the threat of self harm- don’t use this site. These resources can help you find immediate help.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I text a therapist for free?
Generally, if you are seeking help through a licensed mental health professional, text therapy will not be free. If you have insurance and met your deductible, texting might be seen as free but as already stated, you had met your deductible. This means that you are not being charged by your therapist or the company your therapist works for – your insurance company is billed and then they pay the fee. Check with your insurance company about mental health coverage and deductibles.
Some nonprofits and local organizations might offer free texting but check that the person you’ll be texting with is a licensed mental health professional and one who has the experience and training to help you with your particular mental health issue. The website 211.org has information about resources found in your local area.
Is there a therapist I can text?
Many therapists now offer texting as part of their services. When finding a therapist who is the right fit for you, inquire about the different ways they connect with their clients. Do they only have face-to-face sessions? Do they do videoconferencing? Do they text and email? Does the therapist have expertise and training in anxiety and depression, for example, if those are mental health concerns for you?
Finding a therapist who communicates how you think is best for you, such as text messages, will go a long way in helping your work toward your therapy goals.
Is the crisis text line free?
Yes, the crisis text line is free. Text HOME to 741741. You can also go to the Crisis Text Line website and click on “Text Us” or “Or, message us on Facebook.” Whatever method you use, a trained volunteer listener will listen to you and connect you to resources, some possibly free, to help you.
Is Talkspace worth the money?
TalkSpace is one of the most expensive online counseling platforms, and it doesn’t offer a free trial. However, the initial consultation is free. Depending on your insurance and your budget, TalkSpace might be a good option for you if you want online counseling.
Does insurance pay for TalkSpace?
TalkSpace does accept insurance but be sure to talk to your insurance provider first before going forth with any plans to connect with a therapist on TalkSpace.
How do you get therapy if you can't afford it?
Check with your local organizations, churches and nonprofits to see if they offer free or income-based therapy services. A few other options include connecting with a trained listener (7 Cups), peer specialist (ex. iPrevail) or joining a forum (ex. Huddle).
Keep in mind that when participating in a forum or any kind of support group, avoid using personal information. Although you can find relief in hearing other people’s stories that resonate with you and sharing your story with others, giving out your name, address, phone number and other personal information is never a good idea. If someone in the forum is trying to get this information from you, report the user to the person in charge of the chatroom.
A trained listener or peer is not a licensed mental health professional. While they can provide you with some relief and offer constructive advice, their skillset only goes so far. Experiencing emotional abuse or bullying, for instance, might require for extensive and intensive therapy. If you find that your needs are not being met, then it’s time to look for a licensed mental health professional.
Can an online therapist diagnose you?
Yes, a licensed mental health therapist who is a psychologist can diagnose you, whether they work online or in the office. The term “therapist” can mean any mental health professional, including a couples counselor, an art therapist and a social worker.
How do you do online Counselling?
The process might be different depending on what platform you use, but usually you’ll fill out a questionnaire first. From there, you’ll be matched with an online licensed mental health professional. The initial visit will be a consultation. During the consultation, the therapist will get to know you better in general. They’ll also ask why you’re seeking therapy, and your therapy goals. You will also get to know the therapist better and ask them any questions about their qualifications and their experience in providing therapy for the issue(s) you are having. Basically, the initial meeting is to see if the both of you are a good fit for one another. Thereafter, you’ll have therapy sessions via video, audio (phone), texting, emailing, or chatting in a secure chatroom.
An important factor to mention is that although an online therapist will be unable to observe body language unless videoconferencing, text messaging a therapist or emailing and chatting with a therapist can help you to zero in on what you’re feeling rather than expressing it through conscious or subconscious body language.
Is online counseling Safe?
Generally, online counseling is safe. Make sure the therapists and counselors are licensed, and financial information is encrypted. Any information you share with your counselor or therapist is kept confidential.
What are Counselling skills?
Counseling skills are skills therapists and counselors learn, practice and hone over the course of their careers. Some basic skills are active listening, observing and asking questions. Depending on their expertise, counselors and therapists will have different skillsets. While a couples counselor and a cognitive-behavioral therapist will have similar listening skills, a couples counselor will focus on what partners bring to a relationship and the relationship issues and a cognitive-behavioral therapist will focus on how thoughts can lead to unwanted behaviors.
How effective is online Counselling?
Online counseling is effective. Studies have shown that online counseling is as effective as face-to-face counseling. A couple of important factors for the success of online counseling to happen is to have a good fit with the therapist and to put in an honest, ongoing effort toward getting better.