Virtual Healing: A Guide To Skype Therapy For Remote Counseling

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti, M.Ed, LPC
Updated May 20, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

A poll conducted by the American Psychiatric Association found that telemedicine use has grown significantly in recent years, with 6 in 10 participants reporting that they would be willing to use telehealth services for mental healthcare. 

Technological advancements have made receiving therapy online an increasingly attractive option to those seeking mental health care with licensed therapists. This form of mental health treatment, often referred to as online therapy or telehealth, is conducted via an internet-connected device or phone rather than in-person, as is often the case with traditional therapy sessions. 

With an increasing number of people seeking therapy, online therapy platforms have emerged as a convenient option for many people needing mental health support. You can receive online talk therapy with licensed clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, and other mental health professionals.

Telehealth mental healthcare may involve online Skype therapy sessions and video calls as part of the therapeutic process. In these sessions, clients use video calling services to connect with health professionals without needing to find a therapist for local in-person treatment. People can seek therapy from the comfort of their own homes, with only an internet connection and a Skype account or another supported platform. 

This article explores how mental health professionals and licensed therapists can help those seeking general support or assistance with a mental health condition. 

Getty/AnnaStills

Possible benefits of online therapy platforms

While Skype is one of the more popular teleconferencing services and can be used for teletherapy purposes, it isn’t a dedicated online therapy platform. Still, Skype therapy offers many of the same benefits provided by other forms of online therapy, including:

  • Ease of use: One potential advantage is the ease of use it can provide. Clients can receive therapy from wherever they have an internet connection, including the comfort of their own home, eliminating the need for travel and time spent commuting to a therapist's office. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who may have limited mobility or live in remote areas.

  • Flexibility: Another potential benefit is its flexibility in terms of scheduling. Clients can often arrange appointments at more convenient times, allowing them to balance their therapy sessions with work, school, and personal commitments more easily. Online therapy platforms may also provide connection to a broader range of available therapists, allowing clients to find a professional who can focus on their specific needs or issues.

  • Comfort: This form of therapy may also provide a more comfortable environment for some clients. Receiving therapy from their own home may help clients feel more at ease, which can promote open and honest communication with their therapist. In addition, those who may feel nervous about face-to-face therapy sessions may find that they can express themselves more openly through online communication methods such as phone or video chat.

But is online therapy effective? The answer is yes. Whether you’re searching for teen counseling, couples therapy, or individual therapy, speaking with a mental health professional online offers the same benefits as speaking with one in person. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the mental health services available to you, consider reaching out to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for local resources.

Types of Skype therapy sessions

There are several types of sessions catering to various needs and preferences. This variety can help more individuals with a range of mental health conditions and life circumstances get help from licensed professional counselors and therapists. 

Different types of sessions may include the following:

Individual counseling

For those seeking individual support, therapy sessions through Skype can offer personalized counseling in a one-on-one setting. Clients can discuss their concerns during these sessions and work through personal challenges with a skilled therapist. Individual counseling may help clients address mental health conditions (e.g., depressive disorders, eating disorders), common life challenges (e.g., career decisions, relationship conflict), and concerns about overall health and well-being. 

Couples counseling

Couples experiencing relationship issues may also benefit from this type of therapy. Couples therapy sessions can allow each partner to address specific relationship challenges, like communication problems or trust issues. A Skype therapist may also be able to help couples develop skills designed to strengthen their bond.

Group therapy

There are also group therapy sessions available, allowing multiple participants to have discussions and support one another. These sessions can be beneficial for clients experiencing similar concerns, such as social anxiety, depression, or substance abuse. In addition, group therapy can provide a sense of community and rapport.

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.

Family therapy

This therapy is also an option for families looking to improve their relationships and work through concerns together. In online family therapy sessions, family members can have the chance to talk about their feelings and thoughts with the help of an online therapist. This approach may be especially helpful for families who find it hard to attend in-person sessions together. Online family therapy can address various concerns, like parenting struggles, supporting a family member with mental health concerns, or adapting to life changes. By participating in these virtual sessions, families can learn better ways to communicate, solve problems, and create stronger connections with one another with the support of therapists, counselors, or social workers.

Various therapeutic approaches to mental health support

Therapy through Skype can include various therapeutic approaches, depending on the therapist's expertise and the client's needs. Some therapists may focus on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), while others might use psychodynamic therapy, holistic therapy, or other techniques to help clients address their mental health concerns. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most widely utilized modalities among online mental health care providers. A form of talk therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on helping participants reframe negative thought processes that may contribute to mental health challenges. Research shows that internet-based CBT can alleviate the symptoms of a variety of mental health disorders. For example, in a meta-analysis of 18 studies, researchers concluded that online cognitive-behavioral therapy can effectively treat depressive and anxiety disorders

The exact modality an online therapist uses will often depend on the person’s current mental health challenges and their mental health history. For example, therapy for bipolar disorder may look different than treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Likewise, treatment for an eating disorder might be different from sessions for anxiety and depression.

Overcoming potential challenges in Skype therapy

While it may have several benefits for people seeking mental health support, online therapy is not without its challenges. Many people who are considering online therapy have questions, such as Can I utilize text therapy, or participate in sessions through phone calls? Do online therapy platforms provide medication management services? and Does insurance cover online therapy? Overcoming these obstacles can help promote a successful therapeutic experience in a virtual setting. Included below are several tips for how to handle some of the potential challenges: 

Managing technical difficulties

One of the common challenges in therapy through Skype is managing technical difficulties, such as poor internet connection, hardware problems, or issues with the Skype platform. You may be able to avoid these issues by having a stable internet connection and up-to-date software before each session. In addition, you might consider having a backup plan, such as a secondary communication method (phone call or alternative video conferencing platform), in case technical problems come up during a session.

Building rapport with your counselor

Having a strong therapeutic relationship can help support a successful therapy session, but sometimes, it can be more challenging in a virtual setting. To build rapport, try to take the time to talk about your background, concerns, and goals for therapy; try to be open and honest with your therapist, and listen actively in return. If you have concerns, discuss them with your therapist, and they can help address them to create a warm, comfortable virtual environment. 

If you’re struggling to find a therapist you connect with, some online therapy services can match you with a licensed therapist who fits your needs and preferences. This can ensure you’re working with the best online therapist for you. The best online therapy services work with several different types of licensed therapists, including licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed clinical social workers, and licensed mental health counselors.  

Managing distractions in a home setting

In a home setting, clients may face distractions that can interrupt or detract from behavioral therapy sessions. To reduce distractions, try to choose a quiet space for your therapy sessions through Skype and let others in your household know when you will be attending therapy to avoid interruptions. It may also be helpful to silence your phone or other devices to try to maintain focus during sessions.

Health insurance and online therapy cost

Potential clients often ask the question Does insurance cover online mental health care? Some health insurance plans cover online therapy, and others do not. Many online therapy services, however, do not accept insurance. Inquire about insurance coverage for counseling and therapy with your insurance provider. Note that online therapists cannot prescribe medication or provide medication management. 

In most cases, a health savings account (HSA) will cover online therapy. Your company’s employee assistance program (EAP) may also cover online options by giving you the chance to participate in virtual therapy. Even without insurance, online therapy is typically an affordable form of care, as counselors do not have to pay for office space or similar forms of overhead. 

Handling emotional content or sensitive topics

Talking about sensitive topics and reading verbal cues can sometimes be challenging in a virtual setting. Both clients and therapists often need to make an effort to communicate their emotions clearly and honestly during sessions. If you're struggling to convey your feelings, don't hesitate to ask for clarification or discuss your concerns with your therapist.

By proactively tackling these challenges, you can create a supportive and effective virtual environment with your therapist. 

Getty/D3sign

Preparing for Skype therapy sessions

As you prepare for a virtual therapy session, it is often best to create a comfortable and quiet space for your sessions. It may be helpful to choose a spot with minimal distractions and noise, as this can allow you to focus on your session.

You may also consider using a high-quality headset or microphone to enhance your audio experience during sessions. 

When attending online therapy sessions, it can also be helpful to establish a routine and treat them like in-person therapy. Be punctual for your appointments to have sufficient time for each session, and make sure to communicate with your online therapist to address any concerns or difficulties you have during your therapeutic journey.

Setting expectations and goals

It may also be beneficial to reflect on your expectations and goals for therapy. Set realistic expectations and be prepared to participate in your sessions. Having a strong therapeutic relationship is key to achieving positive mental health outcomes.

Finally, it's important to prepare yourself for possible difficulties relating to scheduling mental health appointments, even through Skype. An APA survey found that one in three survey respondents had difficulty scheduling an appointment for therapy services. If you are having trouble finding a therapist who is willing to conduct sessions through Skype, it may be helpful to look into other online therapy platforms. 

Getting started with online therapy

If you are interested in getting started with online therapy, there are a variety of options available, including BetterHelp. You can get started whenever you’re ready, and you will be matched with a therapist based on your particular needs and situation. As noted earlier, some people may find online therapy to feel more comfortable, as it can be done from the comfort of your own home. 

While online therapy might not be the most suitable option for everyone and every situation, it can be a great option for people who prefer the flexibility and comfort of virtual counseling or cannot seek in-person therapy. Not only that, but research has found online therapy to be effective for a range of mental health conditions, including depression, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and more. 

Getty/Vadym Pastukh

Takeaway

Online therapy, including therapy through Skype, has become increasingly popular in recent years. The best online therapy platforms offer many benefits, such as the convenience of doing a session from home and the opportunity to connect with a therapist outside of one's local area. For some individuals and situations, in-person therapy might still be the most effective option, but online therapy has been shown to be effective for a range of concerns, including depression, panic disorder, OCD, and more.
Explore mental health and healing in therapy
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet started