Telemental health therapy, often called mobile therapy, teletherapy or online counseling, can offer various benefits and resources that in-person therapy doesn't offer when improving a person’s mental health.
As a more modern therapeutic option that grew in demand during the pandemic, it offers many clients convenience, flexibility and affordability while still maintaining the expertise of licensed mental health professionals that adhere to the same rules—despite the involvement of technology in the support process.
Learning more about how to make the most of this type of counseling and mental health care can help you get started with a therapist. Read on to learn more about what telemental health can look like, how virtual behavioral health services can help improve one’s mental health and best practices when it comes to sourcing your next mental health services.
Benefits Of Telehealth
- The convenience of therapeutic services for those with limited in-person options
- A broader selection of therapists, and provider options that promote new or varying styles or areas of specialty
- More convenience
- Less expense
- Continuity of care
- Reduced stigma
Studies have found that most individual patients feel most comfortable at home, further indicating online therapy's effectiveness. Traditional mental health services can add stress and inconvenience to the therapy process as clients may not feel comfortable talking face to face—and are required to make time in their day to commute to an office.
Telemental health care appointments can be completed through phone or internet hosted video conferencing or a phone call, which can make it convenient for many—and can possible ways for those living in rural or remote areas, or for people who have a hard time leaving the house for health services or health treatment.
Tips For Making The Most Of Telehealth
Below are several tips for making the most of your telehealth counseling experience. If you have further questions about health information, or what to expect in your own experience, you can 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 or interventions you want to receive. In addition, your therapist can use their knowledge of your symptoms and unique life factors via their baseline and continuing education to develop a treatment plan early on. This can be especially true for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders and addiction treatment.
If you are suicidal, in crisis, or experiencing thoughts of harming yourself, please do not use an online therapy provider or platform. Instead, call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988. They are available 24/7 to offer support.
Identify The Type Of Online Therapy You Hope To Try
There are various types of mental health care services and providers available. 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.
For instance, one option is internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (ICBT), which has been suggested to be an effective treatment for concerns such as depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, phobias, bipolar disorder and more.
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.
In addition to the 2015 study, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) notes that telemental health has been shown as an effective method for treating addiction.
Smartphone apps are another telemental 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.
Research Your Options
No two telemental health platforms or apps are the same in the types of therapy practices they offer. In addition, it can be crucial to find a platform that offers licensed professionals with reputable information and evidence-based practices.
Before signing up for an option, ask yourself how effective the app or website may be and if it seems like a good fit for your unique needs. One way to do this is to read the reviews of other users to understand the pros and cons of any particular platform.
Many platforms offer varying services and price points, as well. Make a budget and look for platforms within it. You may also want to talk with your potential therapist about 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. It is important to note that therapists are not able to prescribe medication or develop a medication management plan directly. However, they can refer you to a psychiatrist or other medical health care professional if they believe that medication would be beneficial.
Ensure You Have The Proper Online Therapy Tools
If you are attending therapy online, check ahead of time that the 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 telemental health services 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.
Be Upfront About Your Needs
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.
Many types of online therapy are available to clients, including own practice or platform-based services. Some may fall under insurance or Medicare coverage, while others do not. If you're interested in removing barriers to own practice or in-person treatment, a platform may suit your needs. With an online platform, the cost of therapy can be significantly lower, and you can choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions with your therapist. Online platforms remove barriers and improve mental health resources in remote areas where there are not many in-person therapists.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are a few frequently asked questions on the topic of tele-mental health counseling.
What Do Mental Health Counselors Do?
The role of mental health counselors varies depending on their license and degree. Some counselors also have a particular type of therapy they practice or a mental illness they specialize in. However, most counselors aim to help clients address various concerns, including mental illness, substance use, distressing symptoms, coping skills, and life challenges. You don't have to have a mental illness to go to therapy.
What Is The Difference Between Therapy And Counseling?
Therapy and counseling are professional careers in the mental health realm. Counselors may offer more short-term, broad approaches and often have a master's degree. Therapists may be psychologists with a doctorate or individuals who work with clients for longer-term treatment. However, the terms "therapy" and "counseling" are often used interchangeably, and there may not be many vast differences between the two.
Is Being A Mental Health Counselor Stressful?
The role of a professional counselor can be stressful for some. Counselors may support distressed clients and learn challenging details about their lives. Some counselors will go to therapy themselves to learn techniques for handling these concerns.
What Is Tele-Mental Health Counseling?
Tele-mental health counseling is a type of counseling delivered remotely. Remote delivery of mental health services and counseling can look different for every therapist, platform, and client. For some, tele-mental health counseling is done over the phone, in real-time, using a safe line. For others, sessions are delivered over Zoom, FaceTime, or other video conferencing software. On some platforms, live chat messaging may also be an option.
Remote counseling differs from standard in-office treatments in several ways. For example, the therapists providing services may work from a home office or remote location, and because they might not rent an office or pay for travel, they can often offer cheaper session costs. Although the therapy methods can be similar or the same as in-person therapy, the online format may offer more reachable resources in real-time, such as journal prompts, webinars, or printable worksheets.
How Do You Become A Board-Certified Tele-Mental Health Provider?
The first step in becoming a board-certified remote mental health provider may be ensuring your licensing and continued education credits are safe and up-to-date. If you have an up-to-date state license and a degree in counseling, you can apply for platforms or register as a own practice LLC.
Before providing online therapy, you may want to take courses on the tele-mental health field and how it can differ from in-person therapy. For example, if you practice specific types of therapy that are often practiced in person, like EMDR, you may want a specialized education in how to perform it online.
You can also consider taking an exam to become a certified tele-mental healthcare provider. Some licensing boards offer this option. Check with your state licensing board to see the rules around practicing online.
What Is The Best Tele-Mental Health Platform?
The largest tele-mental health platform is BetterHelp, which offers over 30,000 online therapists throughout the US, available to anyone worldwide. BetterHelp's sister platforms can also offer benefits, including:
What is telehealth mental health?
Is often called telehealth and telemental health?
What are the benefits of Counselling?
What is the most important thing in counseling?
How effective is teletherapy?
Why do people use teletherapy?
What are the types of teletherapy?
What are the challenges of teletherapy?
What are counseling and its purpose?
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