Exploring Telemental Health Counseling

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Erban, LMFT, IMH-E
Updated June 7, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide, substance use, or abuse which could be triggering to the reader.
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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 one’s mental health. 

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 one’s mental health. 

As a more modern therapeutic option that grew in demand during the pandemic, online therapy can address the continuing public health challenges that pervasive mental health concerns pose. Telemental health care 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 therapy and mental health care can help you get started with a professional counselor. Read on to learn more about what telemental health counseling 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. 

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
In-person counseling doesn't work for everyone

Benefits of telemental health therapy

There are various benefits of seeking mental health services through telehealth counseling that you might encounter, including the following: 

  • 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
  • Comfort
  • No need for transportation  

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 online health services

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 professional counselor how they prefer to lead sessions. 

Note the symptoms you are experiencing 

Knowing your symptoms or diagnosis before attending counseling may help your telemental health professional determine the type of therapy or interventions you should 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. Your mental health care provider may coordinate with other medical or behavioral health experts on your care team to better understand your symptoms. 

Identify the type of online mental health care you hope to try 

There are various types of mental health care services and providers available. Determining which mental health services 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 telebehavioral 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 telemental health 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 counselor'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 between other states, 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, you may want to talk with your insurance provider to see if they can reimburse you for using their services.

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 telemental health counseling 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. 

In-person counseling doesn't work for everyone

Therapy options

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.


Making the most of online 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 and improve your health, reach out to a therapist for further guidance.
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