Despite the increased awareness of counseling and mental health services over recent years, many people do not have an opportunity for talk therapy or personal counseling, which is where the best online therapy can be a convenient and available option. Barriers to in-person treatment can include cost, distance, and availability of licensed. For example, some Americans living in rural areas may not have therapists, such as a licensed clinical social worker or a licensed professional counselor, nearby. As mental healthcare can be an essential service for those seeking it, many US adults are turning to virtual counseling, which cuts down on some of these barriers and may even accept insurance, helping to save money.
Benefits Of Online Counseling Sessions
The availability of virtual therapy, including couples counseling and evidence based therapy, has provided unique opportunities and a safe space for clients to receive support of the same quality they might find in person, which is one of the ways a licensed marriage and family therapist can help those who need help but don't have enough time.
In addition, online therapy provides opportunities for online communication and connection that may not be present in other forms. Below are several expected benefits of online counseling, such as an initial visit, for those seeking support.
Flexibility In Scheduling
One of the most common benefits of online therapy is that it allows clients to meet with their providers, such as a clinical social worker or licensed psychiatrists, at a time that works for them. Many internet-based providers have early morning, late night, or weekend hours for clients to take advantage of. In addition, clients can schedule their appointments without being put on a waiting list for mental health diagnoses or medication management.
Through specific online platforms, unlimited messaging might be a possibility. In these cases, clients can message their therapist at any time of day and receive a response within 24 hours from their therapist. Individuals can also attend sessions comfortably with flexible session formats (phone, video, or live chat).
A Wider Reach
Physically attending an appointment might not be possible for everyone. Online mental health counseling provides a viable option for those living in remote areas, people who travel for their jobs, and Americans living abroad. In addition, online counseling is often cheaper than conventional therapy sessions. Forbes found that the average price of in-person therapy is $100 to $200 a session. Online counseling costs significantly less per month.
Some clients might avoid therapy, including substance abuse counseling or working with a family therapist, due to a disability. Physical health challenges, a lack of mobility, or difficulty getting out of bed may cause barriers to treatment. With online therapy, clients can attend counseling from home, even if they're working with medical doctors for their conditions. If they don't want their provider to see them when they're not feeling well, they can choose the live chat therapy session option.
There are several stigmas associated with mental health, and attending therapy can feel shameful or embarrassing for those experiencing them. Those who seek online counseling may appreciate the fact that their identities are hidden. Instead of visiting a provider in person or at a public location, they can attend sessions from home. They can choose a live chat session if they don't want to talk out loud with the therapist. In addition, some online platforms offer the possibility to go by a nickname instead of your real name.
The Ethical Considerations Of Online Counseling
All therapists are required to adhere to ethical guidelines. With online counseling, the text-based interactive communication between therapists and clients might lead to misinterpretation in tone and intent. If you are concerned with how your therapist communicates, try asking for clarification. In addition, you can switch therapists if you find that one therapist is not working out for you.
You can also read the terms and conditions of any platform you apply to use for mental health therapy. The policies a platform uses are in place to safeguard you, your therapist, and the platform from harm. Your counselor may be able to answer questions about a platform's policies.
How To Find An Online Counselor
There are many online therapists available. You can find one online through a special practice or sign up for a platform to get matched with a therapist without extra work. Online therapists practice the same types of therapy as in-person professionals and are licensed, trained, and vetted for quality. If you're looking for a therapist that takes your insurance, you may fare best with a special practice therapist in your area that offers telemental health counseling services.
If you're unsure about the effectiveness of these processes, you can also check out what the APA has to say about online therapy. You can also read about the 17 studies that found online therapy more effective than in-person counseling in treating specific concerns like depression.
With the low cost of online therapy and the increasing availability of telehealth services, more individuals can find the support they seek. If you're interested in signing up for this type of treatment, consider a platform like BetterHelp, which offers over 30,000 licensed therapists specializing in various areas of mental healthcare.
By choosing an online therapy service, you may be able to avoid extra costs and save money while still receiving quality mental health support.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are a few frequently asked questions about online therapy.
Is Online Therapy Available Everywhere?
From anywhere in the world, online platforms allow you to receive therapy from wherever you have an internet connection. Online therapy through services like BetterHelp is available to expatriates, foreigners, immigrants, Americans, and those living in remote locations. To see which therapists are available, fill out the online intake questionnaire.
How Can Online Therapy Improve My Mental Health?
Through online therapy, you can address the same topics that you might in face-to-face therapy. Some of the benefits of therapy include the following:
- The ability to identify mental health concerns
- A thorough evaluation of your mental processes
- An increased sense of purpose
- Emotional control skills
- Interpersonal relationship skills
- A thorough understanding of your emotions
- Emotional support and validation
- A personalized treatment plan
- New skills for setting boundaries in relationships
- Relaxation techniques
- An improved self-esteem
- Potential solutions to your problems
- An ability to face fears or worries
- Management techniques for anxiety or depression
- A reduction in distress
What's The Difference Between Online And Face-To-Face Therapy?
There is no difference in the quality or effectiveness of services offered online vs. in person. Online therapists use the same psychological techniques to help you explore your symptoms, learn new skills, and develop a treatment plan to overcome mental health concerns. However, online therapy offers benefits that in-person therapy does not.
When you choose to participate in online therapy, you can choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions with a licensed therapist, offering variety. You can also pay lower rates, find more therapist options (in some areas), and receive online resources unique to your chosen service.
What Are The Advantages Of Online Therapy?
There are many advantages of online counseling, including the following:
- You can get online therapy from any location with an internet connection.
- You don't have to miss online therapy sessions when on vacation.
- You don't have to drive to your therapist's office when the weather is poor.
- Remote therapy eliminates the need to travel through heavy traffic.
- You can avoid crowds.
- You can avoid physical availability concerns if you have a mobility device.
- You can receive services, even living in a rural town.
- You can get online therapy at a time convenient for your lifestyle.
Other online therapy benefits include the following:
- Studies show people feel most comfortable in their own homes.
- You can receive mental health treatment without a required diagnosis.
- You can avoid telling others about your counseling experience.
- You can take part in unlimited messaging with your counselor.
- You can get paired with a counselor in minutes.
- Matching with a therapist takes 24 to 48 hours after signing up.
- You can easily switch counselors to find a new one within 24 to 48 hours.
What Are The Cons Of Online Therapy Services?
You might find a few disadvantages to online therapy. For example, online therapy cannot replace crisis intervention or support for severe mental illness. A few other disadvantages include the following:
- Most insurance companies do not cover online platforms.
- You might feel more trusting of a therapist you can visit in person.
- Online therapy requires basic knowledge of technology and an internet connection.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Traditional Therapy?
Below are a few commonly reported disadvantages of traditional in-person therapy:
- You might have to face poor weather, public illness, and traffic.
- You might not feel unknown with your therapist.
- You won't have unlimited messaging to talk to your therapist anytime.
- Therapists might have long waitlists or wait times between appointments.
- Insurance may not cover sessions without an official diagnosis from your therapist.
- You may not have many options for a therapist in your area.
- Changing your therapist can take months.
- Your therapist may be unavailable when you go on vacation or out of town.
- Those with physical limitations may struggle to attend sessions in non-available buildings or in poor weather.
What Types Of Therapy Services Can I Get Online?
You can receive nearly most types of therapy online as you can in person. A few common types of therapy offered online include the following:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
- Interpersonal therapy
- Couples therapy (through a platform like ReGain)
- Group therapy
- Mindfulness-based therapy
- Stress management therapy
- Anger management therapy
- Family therapy
- Grief counseling
Is Online Mental Health Treatment Always Appropriate?
Online mental healthcare should not be used in every circumstance. If you are in crisis, reach out to one of the crisis prevention services below:
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
- Veterans Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-8255 (and press 1) or text 838255. For support for the deaf and hard of hearing community, please use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255.
- Trevor Lifeline (LGBTQ Lifeline): (866)488-7386
- SAMHSA National Helpline (Substance Use): (800)662-4357
- National Eating Disorder Association Helpline:1-800-931-2237 (M-Th: 9 AM-9 PM EST, Fri 9 AM - 5 PM EST)
- Child Help Hotline: Call 1-800-422-4453 or use the online chat feature
- National Anti-Hazing Hotline: 1-888-NOT-HAZE (1-888-668-4293)
- Physician Crisis Support Line: Call 1-888-409-0141 if you are a first responder or medical provider experiencing crises related to Covid-19
- Sexual Assault Hotline: Call RAINN at 1-800-656-4673
What Topics Can You Address In Online Therapy?
Therapists working online can treat any symptoms or diagnoses. However, therapists on an online platform like BetterHelp are not allowed to make diagnoses or prescribe medications. Below are a few topics clients might seek help with:
- Eating disorders
- Substance use disorders
- ADHD or ADD
- Bipolar disorder
- Family conflict
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Disruptive behaviors
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Personality disorders
- Life changes or transitions
Why Do People Prefer To Talk To A Counselor Online?
There are many reasons people might prefer online counseling, including the following:
- Feeling less rushed to attend sessions
- Feeling more comfortable in familiar surroundings
- Feeling safer when talking over text-based formats in the case of social anxiety
- The ability to receive worksheets and resources immediately at home
- Knowing you can send a message to your therapist at any time
Who Are Online Therapists?
Therapists who see patients online are qualified professionals, like traditional therapists. They have studied psychology and counseling and have years of experience providing offline or online therapy and treatment to people with mental and emotional issues.
Online therapists can be counselors, social workers, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, and other providers. All mental health counselors on a platform like BetterHelp must have a master's degree or higher, at least 1000 hours of clinical experience, and up-to-date licensing in their state.
Is there a free online emotional support chat?
Can you talk to a therapist for free online?
Can you talk to a therapist online in seclusion?
Is there a free therapist app?
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