Using Online Therapy To Improve Your Mental Health

Medically reviewed by Arianna Williams, LPC, CCTP
Updated May 23, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

When was the last time you spoke with someone, like a psychologist or friend, about your feelings or thoughts? At times, individuals may put other tasks and the needs of others before their own physical and mental health. Many have looked toward seeking a psychologist as a resource for support, and recently, online therapy has become more popular. 

Many people 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, which is available via phone, chat, or video, making prioritizing your mental health more convenient and sometimes more affordable. 

The benefits of talking 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, stress, or depression symptoms, seeing a therapist has been shown to reduce long-term medical costs associated with heart problems, viral illnesses, and diseases. In addition, therapy may be beneficial for managing other mental health conditions, like eating disorders and panic disorder.

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.

If you are struggling with substance use, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at (800) 662-4357 to receive support and resources. Support is available 24/7.

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 psychological support?

Many people who could benefit from seeing a therapist may hesitate to reach out for therapy 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 transitions. 

Some people seek therapy even without mental health symptoms or a diagnosed condition. They may simply desire life advice or wish to discuss the stress in their everyday life. However, those who perceive their issues as less severe might refrain from scheduling a face-to-face session. This could be due to unawareness of online therapy options, making it challenging for them to find a therapist.

Stigma surrounding mental health

In addition, the stigma surrounding mental health 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, whether they’re seeking therapy online or in their area.

They have a tight schedule

Some individuals might want to get support with a topic but aren't sure how to fit a healthcare 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 a health plan. 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 

Traditional, 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. However, you might wonder if online therapy is effective as a form of mental health care. 

A common form of internet-based counseling offered by many online therapists is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This treatment method may empower a person to consider and reframe their challenges and negative thoughts with the guidance of a professional. A mental health professional may provide therapy or other forms of counseling online at lower prices than some in-person providers.

CBT focuses on finding your strengths and building 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.

Getty/Vadym Pastukh

Online therapy, whether it's text therapy, phone therapy, or video sessions, can be arranged around your life, making it easier to practice and explore various challenges on a schedule that suits most people. 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 may come at a lower financial cost than face-to-face therapy. 

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." 

Online therapy sessions work as effectively as sessions conducted in a traditional therapy office. Therefore, you may want to learn about the benefits of online therapy before choosing the type of treatment or mental healthcare you seek.

What can therapy 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.

The benefits of online therapy with licensed mental health professionals can offset the barriers people may face from in-person options.

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. You might find that a good therapist helps support you in self-discovery, anger management, or identifying different sources of trauma you might experience. When you talk with a therapist instead of a friend, you can address your problems in a safe, professional, and unbiased space.

You might speak to a psychologist online 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. 

In addition to therapy, you may be recommended medication to support the process of healing or recovery. Psychiatrists are mental health professionals who can prescribe medication and provide medication management services for mental health conditions. 

Although people often wait to seek mental health support until problems become difficult to cope with, you might try online therapy before more significant challenges occur. You might work with different forms of online therapy, such as online couples therapy or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). 

Virtual support for mental health concerns

Online therapy sessions may remove barriers that often keep individuals from seeking support from a licensed professional. An online therapist can help provide the right coping strategies and find the treatment plan based on your mental health history. 

Online therapy may neutralize any stigma around receiving support. You can choose the schedule that works for you and attend live sessions from a safe space in your home. In most cases, this flexibility helps clients to maintain their focus on therapy without the constraints of traditional office visits.

The affordability of online therapy can make it possible for more people to receive high-quality care for mental health concerns. 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 problems that you might otherwise try to ignore until they worsen. In addition, you might cut down on gas costs for commuting to weekly appointments at a therapist’s office. 

Some health insurance plans may cover online sessions or phone therapy in addition to in-office therapy. However, you may want to contact your insurance company or consult your provider to see if your insurance covers online therapy. Depending on your employer, employee assistance plans (EAPs) may be available to provide short-term counseling and other mental health services.

Should I use an online platform?

Many people rely on virtual counseling or online therapy services as a first step to gaining 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 before you choose your therapist. You can always switch to a different therapist as needed. 

If you believe you need someone to talk to, signing up for one of the best online therapy platforms for mental health, such as BetterHelp for individuals, Regain for couples, or PrideCounseling for LGBTQ+ individuals, may benefit you. Online therapy platforms provide an opportunity to connect with therapists licensed in various specialties and may be more affordable than in-person options. BetterHelp's mental health services are priced at $65-$100 per week and billed monthly (based on factors such as your location, referral source, preferences, therapist availability, and any applicable discounts or promotions that might apply).

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Psychologists have the skills to help with life’s challenges


The best online therapy for you is the one that fits your lifestyle and needs. Online counseling is often preferable to in-person therapy due to its affordability, availability, and flexibility. If you're considering choosing online therapy, sign up for a platform like BetterHelp to find the right therapist match, or try reaching out to a therapist that offers telehealth or virtual therapy in your area. On your first visit, psychologists specializing in behavioral health can address various concerns, such as relationship issues or panic attacks. As patients opt for online counseling, they can visit select providers in many different states to find the right fit for their needs.
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