Speaking To An Online Psychologist: Improving Your Mental Health

Medically reviewed by Arianna Williams, LPC, CCTP
Updated January 24, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

When was the last time you spoke with someone about your feelings or thoughts? Individuals may put other tasks and the needs of others before their own physical and mental health at times. The world can seem busy and demanding, and mental health might be put on the back burner.

Many do not have time to schedule an in-person appointment with a therapist, go to the appointment, and speak to someone for an hour. However, the world of therapy is changing with online therapy, making prioritizing your mental health more convenient and sometimes more affordable. 

The Benefits Of Speaking To A Therapist 

Improving your mental health by speaking to a counselor can have lasting benefits to your overall well-being, including your physical health. If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or stress, seeing a therapist has been shown to reduce long-term medical costs associated with heart problems, viral illnesses, and diseases. 

Mental health professionals and licensed clinical social workers often offer traditional talk therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychotherapy, and other modern counseling methods. Depending on the therapist and your preferences, these can be provided in person or online.

Many mental health concerns may be worsened by substance use, such as drinking alcohol or using illicit substances. Speaking with a therapist online about these issues and medication management may reduce dependency symptoms. Whether you have a mental health condition diagnosis, engage in substance use, or find yourself needing extra emotional support, making your mental wellness a priority can be rewarding. Actively working on your mental health may also improve chronic illness symptoms, stress, relationships, career, and physical health.

Our mental health directly affects our physical health, and vice-versa. For example, individuals with poor mental health may develop a chronic illness due to dampened immune responses. Additionally, difficulties sleeping can be associated with physical health risks. Working with a counselor may improve physical symptoms. However, if you are unsure, speak to a medical professional such as a primary care physician, to learn more and develop a treatment plan specific to your needs.

Psychologists Have The Skills To Help With Life’s Challenges

What Stops People From Obtaining Support? 

Many people who could benefit from seeing a therapist may hesitate to reach out or try traditional counseling. There may be a few reasons for this, including the following: 

They Don't Think Their Problems Warrant Therapy 

Due to mental health myths and stigmas, individuals may believe that counseling is only for those experiencing severe mental health conditions. They may not realize that therapists are often equipped to support people with various conditions, including anxiety, depression, stress, and life changes. 

Some individuals may see a therapist and do not have mental health symptoms or a diagnosed condition. They might use counseling to gain life advice or talk through daily concerns in these cases. A person who doesn't think their problem is serious enough may avoid scheduling an in-person appointment.

They Don't Want Others To Know 

Additionally, the stigma surrounding mental health issues often prevents people from speaking about them and pursuing help. Instead of relying on trusted friends and family to understand, some people may feel embarrassed about having difficulties with their mental health and avoid asking for help. 

They Have A Tight Schedule 

Some individuals might want to get support with a topic but aren't sure how to fit a provider into their day-to-day lives. They may have challenging work schedules, struggle with finding or paying for childcare, or have other family or community obligations that make finding spare time difficult.

They Can't Afford Therapy 

The cost of in-person therapy is not always covered by health insurance. Appointments can be expensive, and since more than one appointment is almost always necessary to make progress, the cost can dissuade many people from getting started.  

Why Many Choose Online Counseling 

In-person therapy is no longer the only way to look after your mental health. With new technology, you can receive help from a licensed therapist that reduces barriers to treatment. A common form of internet-based counseling is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This approach may empower a person to consider and reframe their challenges and negative thoughts with the guidance of a professional. However, other forms of counseling are also available online. 

CBT focuses on finding your strengths and building your resiliency to challenges, which may be completed in a virtual setting. Online therapy has been widely researched in various studies and judged as effective; a recent study of over 1,100 participants in online CBT found that 89% of the participants would recommend an online therapy network to others.

Online therapy can be arranged around your life on a schedule that suits yours. With no need for transportation to an appointment, you may save time. The discretion of online therapy also means that you don't need to tell your mental healthcare plans to anyone, and it can come at a much lower financial cost than face-to-face therapy or insurance co-pays. 

A professor of psychiatry at the University of California-Davis recently compared online therapy to the old-fashioned "house calls" that medical doctors made decades ago: "We're seeing people in their own environments…It actually improves the relationships we have with them." 

What Can An Online Psychologist Help Me With?

It's a common misconception that speaking with a licensed therapist is only for people with time and money who are experiencing symptoms of a severe mental illness. You do not need to have been diagnosed with a mental disorder to receive benefits from therapy.

At times, you may not want to worry your friends or family about thoughts and struggles. Some personal issues might feel easier to discuss with someone outside your social circle. When you talk with a therapist instead of a friend, you can address your symptoms in a safe, professional, and non-biased space.

You might speak to an online psychologist about anything on your mind. If you are stressed at work, have lost a loved one or a pet, have difficulty connecting with a partner or children or are experiencing symptoms of depression, you may find that speaking with a licensed mental health professional is valuable. 

Although people often wait to seek help until problems become difficult to cope with, you might utilize online therapy before more significant challenges occur. You can choose from many forms of online therapy, such as online couples therapy and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). 

Why An Online Psychologist May Be The Right Fit For You

Online therapy sessions may remove barriers that often keep individuals from seeking support from a licensed professional. This therapy modality often focuses on finding a solution that fits your unique life circumstances. Online therapy may neutralize any stigma around receiving support. Because you control the schedule and location of each appointment, you may feel more in control of your treatment plan overall. 

The affordability of online therapy can make it possible for more people to attend to their mental health. If you don't have to spend as much as you would for an in-person appointment, it can be easier to address mental health issues that you might otherwise try to ignore until they worsen. Additionally, you might cut down on gas costs for commuting to weekly appointments. 

Should I Meet With An Online Psychologist?

Many people rely on online therapy to gain insight into personal struggles. You may experience a life event or long-term condition like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or anxiety. If you're unsure whether your online therapist can attend to your needs, you may send a message to ensure it's a proper fit. 

If you believe you need someone to talk to, signing up for an online platform such as BetterHelp for individuals, ReGain for couples, or PrideCounseling for LGBTQ+ individuals may benefit you. 

Psychologists Have The Skills To Help With Life’s Challenges

Takeaway

Online counseling is often preferable to in-person therapy due to its affordability, accessibility, and flexibility. If you're interested in trying this modality, consider signing up for a platform or reaching out to a therapist that offers telehealth in your area.

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