How To Make The Most Of Telemental Health Counseling

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Erban, LMFT, IMH-E
Updated March 15, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Content Warning: Please be advised that this article mentions topics like suicide, substance use, and other potentially triggering subjects. Read with discretion. 

Tele-mental health counseling, often called mobile therapy, teletherapy, or online counseling, can offer various benefits that in-person therapy doesn't offer. As a more modern therapy, it offers clients convenience, flexibility, and affordability. Learning more about how to make the most of this type of counseling can help you get started with a therapist. 

In-Person Counseling Doesn't Work For Everyone

Benefits Of Telehealth Counseling 

There are various benefits of telehealth counseling that you might encounter, including the following: 

  • The convenience of therapeutic services for those without options 
  • A broader selection of therapists with varying styles or areas of specialty
  • More convenience
  • Less expense
  • More significant continuity of care
  • Reduced stigma
  • Comfort 

Studies have found that most individuals feel most comfortable at home, indicating online therapy's effectiveness. 

Tips For Making The Most Of Telehealth Counseling 

Below are several tips for making the most of your telehealth counseling experience. If you have further questions, ask your counselor how they prefer to lead sessions. 

Note The Symptoms You Are Experiencing 

Knowing your symptoms or diagnosis before attending counseling may help determine the type of therapy you want to work with. In addition, your therapist can use their knowledge of your symptoms to develop a treatment plan early on.

If you are suicidal, in crisis, or experiencing thoughts of harming yourself, do not use an online therapy provider or platform. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text 988 to talk to someone over SMS. They are available 24/7 to offer support. 

Identify The Type Of Online Therapy You Hope To Try 

There are various types of tele-mental health services. Determining which of these may most effectively address your concerns may be beneficial. For example, some therapy methods are more effective for specific symptoms or diagnoses than others. 

One option is traditional talk therapy via videoconferencing. Results from a 2009 study suggest that this mode of online professional counseling can be particularly effective for treating anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders, among other conditions. 

In addition, a 2015 study revealed encouraging outcomes for people who experience substance use concerns who were administered a text messaging-based treatment. Text therapy may be beneficial if you want to talk to a provider without seeing or hearing them. 

Smartphone apps are another tele-mental health option to consider. According to one study, many clients preferred app-based messaging, phone calls, or videos to in-person therapy or text therapy. 

In-Person Counseling Doesn't Work For Everyone

Research Your Options 

No two tele-mental health platforms or apps are the same in the therapy services they provide. In addition, it can be crucial to find a platform that offers licensed professionals. Before signing up for an option, ask yourself how effective the app or website may be and how they have your interest at heart. 

One way to do this is to read the reviews of other users to understand the pros and cons of any particular platform. You can also familiarize yourself with best practices for elemental services, such as those described by the American Telemedicine Association.

Many platforms offer varying services and price points, as well. Make a budget and look for platforms within it. You can also message any potential therapist to discuss your preferred type of treatment and ask about their treatment approach. 

Check Your Therapist's Credentials 

Before beginning therapy with any practitioner, confirm they are currently licensed in your state or within the US to practice. Licensing requirements for counselors can vary from state to state, meaning a licensed counselor in California may not be able to provide care to someone in Florida without a Florida state license. The same rule can also pertain to remote counseling, so double-check before meeting with a provider. 

In addition, verify that your therapist has experience treating your symptoms or concerns and has at least 1000 hours of clinical training. You can verify a therapist's license by contacting their state board. You can also check the organizations a therapist has been awarded training certifications from and search for their name and business name online to find reviews.

Ensure The Proper Online Therapy Tools 

If you are attending therapy online, check ahead of time that the tele-mental health counseling platform runs smoothly on your computer or mobile device, and be sure to download any necessary software or plugins requested. For example, some therapists may use a video chat platform like Zoom for sessions, which can require a quick setup. 

If you plan to use a tele-mental health service with multiple devices, download and enable the service on each device you plan to use, ensuring the devices sync up with one another. You may also need to test your internet speed to ensure it can hold up with a video call. Internet speeds under 10mbps may be too slow for therapy. However, you can do a test with your therapist or through your chosen platform before the session if you need. 

Use A Private And Safe Connection

In addition to confirming that a particular tele-mental health platform uses safe, enciphered technology, use a safe Wi-Fi connection or smartphone plan such as 4G. If you are attending therapy on a public network, it may not be safe. 

Be Upfront About Your Needs 

When interacting with a new therapist, it may be helpful to think of yourself as a homeowner paying for household services, where your body is your home and therapy is the service. If you were hiring someone to clean out old boxes from your attic, you might look for someone who respects your wishes in approaching the project, handling the boxes carefully, and leaving the attic in better shape without judgment. You might expect the same from a therapist. 

Online therapists should be respectful, caring, skilled, and non-judgmental. If you feel you aren't receiving support, be upfront about your needs. Let your therapist know if you're interested in a different approach or feel disrespected. They may be able to change their approach or recommend a new type of therapy. 

Counseling Options

Many types of online therapy are available to clients, including private practice or platform-based services. If you're interested in removing barriers to private practice or in-person treatment, a platform may suit your needs. With an online platform, therapy costs can be significantly lower, and you can choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions with your therapist. 

In addition, one study on online therapy platforms found that 71% of participants preferred them to in-person types and felt more comfortable with their therapist. They also reported greater levels of effectiveness in reducing symptoms and an increased reported quality of life. If you're interested in trying online therapy, you can sign up for a platform like BetterHelp for a vastly growing database of counselors with experience in various areas of care. 


Making the most of tele-mental health counseling may depend on your preferences and how you prepare for your sessions—performing research, ensuring credentials, and performing a technology check before your session may prove advantageous in finding a suitable counselor. If you're ready to get started, reach out to a therapist for further guidance. 

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