Reasons To Choose An Online Psychiatrist
Updated November 07, 2018
Reviewer Denise Doster
Most people in the modern world suffer from mental health issues during some time point in their lives. Whether it takes the form of insomnia, long-term depression, or manifests as problems at work or in your relationship, it happens to nearly everyone. When it does, it's a good idea to consult a mental health professional, which may be an online psychiatrist.
Finding Mental Health Treatment Online
There are many sites online where you can get online mental health treatment including counseling. BetterHelp is one of them. At BetterHelp, you can search from many online counselors to help support you through depression, anxiety or transitional life events, such as a death in the family or a divorce. While BetterHelp is an excellent resource for online counseling, we don't offer online psychiatry; however there are plenty of other places to find a viable online psychiatrist, you simply have to look. One important thing to keep in mind when you're searching for the right online psychiatrist is: do your research carefully so you can find the best provider for your needs.
Seeking A Psychiatrist Online
Be careful when you're looking for a psychiatrist online. Like with many services on the internet, there are a few charlatans out there. In the United States, as in most countries, the requirements for calling yourself a psychiatrist, counselor or psychologist are very strict and inflexible, but it may be impossible to verify whether a person advertising online is licensed or not.
The good news is that a few services can guarantee the credentials of any psychiatrist or counselor you will find working with them. Yes, work with and not for; the actual mental health professionals typically use these websites as a referral service instead of being employed by them. From a patient's point of view, one of the functions of these organizations is making sure that only qualified counselors with experience in treating mental health issues can use their platform.
Many people simply can't afford to take an hour off work every week to see a psychiatrist in a traditional setting. Pursuing therapy online, however, requires nothing of the sort: you can communicate with your counselor by email, over text chat, or schedule an appointment for a phone or video call. Should you think of something significant to your emotional development at 3 a.m., nothing stops you from sending your thoughts to your therapist at that moment, who will reply as soon as time permits. Since all you need is an internet connection, you will also have access to your therapist from nearly anywhere, including while traveling.
Finding Inexpensive Counseling
Although psychologists are experts at steering conversations toward therapeutically productive areas, it's difficult to fill an entire hour with significant insights into your mental and emotional state. Online therapy facilitates a more effective way for a single therapist to handle several clients simultaneously, without neglecting any of them. Communicating in this way means that you will not always receive a response in real time, but this is rarely a problem. A decent communication lag allows you time to think about all you've said and heard in this ongoing conversation, which makes therapy even more effective.
Access a Broad Pool of Mental Health Professionals
One of the challenges when it comes to counseling is finding a mental health provider who treats all of your concerns. Most counselors tend to specialize in only one or two areas: family counseling, treating addiction, healing depression or any of several others. However, it is quite common for a person's mental health issues to span more than one of these categories. Using online therapy provides you access to a large database of mental health professionals who specialize in various issues. For example, you can see an online therapist for anxiety and to talk about parenting issues. It's crucial to see a counselor who can address all of your concerns with mental health, and you can.
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Finding an online psychiatrist or therapist can be done in minutes, costs less than you'd expect and gives you access to a sympathetic and knowledgeable professional at any time of the day or night. While some people will certainly have their reasons for choosing traditional person to person therapy, online counseling has many points in its favor.
Choose the Type of Therapy that Works Best for You
Not only can you choose among many different therapists who offer counseling online, but you can also choose a therapist who uses the techniques that work best for you. Most therapists offer cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of therapy in which you examine the thoughts behind your feelings and actions to consciously change your behavior. This is perhaps the most popular form of therapy currently.
However, there are also many other types of therapy you might choose. For example, dialectical behavior therapy is often used for people who want to improve their emotional stability. Mindfulness-based therapies can be an excellent choice for people with anxiety. Traditional psychotherapy examines past issues and relationships and is often the best choice for people still suffering because of childhood traumas. Whatever your issues and whatever your preferences for treatment, you can usually find the modality that is best for you.
Take Therapists for a Test Run
Typically, when someone looks for a therapist in their local area, they have little to go on unless someone they know is already in therapy with someone they would recommend. More often than not, the insurance company gives you a small list of providers from which to choose. Since online therapy is affordable without the help of an insurance company, you have total freedom to choose any of the therapists available.
Another advantage to choosing an online theraspist is that you can learn more about them before deciding to work with them. Their profile on the site they work through is always available to look at, and there are testimonials written about their work online. You can read information about the therapist, their education, their certifications, their experience, and the types of therapy they specialize in. Their photo, also shown on their profile, makes you feel more familiar with them before you sign up for therapy.
If you think you've found a therapist that would be a good fit for you but you just aren't sure, you can have a first session in which you can take them for a trial run. Because you aren't using insurance, there's no paperwork or re-approval process to go through if you decide that therapist isn't for you. All you have to do is choose another therapist and set up another appointment.
Keep Your Therapy Your Business
Although all clinical psychologists and counselors must adhere to a strict code of confidentiality, practical matters can sometimes interfere with your privacy. First, the insurance company needs to know the reason you're seeking therapy. The counselor will have to report to them on your progress and need for more therapy.
People may also find out about your counseling in the course of everyday life if you see a local counselor. If you need to get off work to go to an appointment, someone will usually need to know why you're getting off work and where you're going. In addition, when you have an appointment in the office to see your therapist, others might see you enter into the building and spread the news that you're seeing a psychologist.
When you choose an online psychiatrist or therapist, you control where your sessions take place, and consequently who knows about them. If you're concerned that someone will hear you speaking during a phone or video session, you can always choose to communicate with your counselor via text or email. Of course, it would be nice if everyone understood that mental health issues are common, but unfortunately, we're still fighting the stigma of mental illness. In an ideal world, everyone would realize that dealing with your problems is much better than avoiding therapy. However, the truth is that getting counseling is still something that many people don't understand. So, it makes sense to keep it private. With online therapy, that's easy to do.
Have as Much Therapy as You Like
When you choose an online counselor, you can decide the frequency and duration of treatment. You can have sessions weekly if you like or stick with a semi-monthly schedule. There's no insurance company involved that might tell you that you can't continue therapy as long as you like. If you solve one problem and move on to another, there's no one telling you to get another approval letter. On the other hand, if you want to have a few sessions to deal with a specific issue, you can do that instead. You don't have to explain your choice to anyone or beg them to agree. You are totally in control of how long you stay in therapy.
When you engage in online counseling, you never have to divulge your identity to anyone. Not to your therapist, an insurance company, or anyone else for that matter. This gives you an amazing level of freedom to talk about anything you like. You can tell the counselor your darkest fears, your most disturbing thoughts, your secret pleasures, and your fondest desires without worry of being exposed. What you might not realize is that others have similar thoughts and feelings but just never tell anyone. As an online counseling client, though, you can discuss them and learn to overcome their power over you.
Start Now, While You're Motivated
Often, people decide to go into counseling and never make it to their first session. What usually happens is that they make the decision in a moment of clarity, but by the time they wade through all the red tape and wait for the therapist to have an opening, they've lost their momentum.
With an online psychiatrist or counselor, you can make the decision now and follow up with a first session in very short order. Why wait? After all, it's your mental health at stake. Very little else is as important to your well-being and success. The sooner you reach out for help, the sooner you can find healing and peace. Even better news is that once you make that first courageous step, continuing in counseling may be easier than you ever thought possible.