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Online Counseling Versus Traditional Counseling


Online Counseling Versus Traditional Counseling

Although online counseling and traditional counseling share many benefits, there are a few key differences between the two options, which we'll explore in more detail below. Both offer psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy) with licensed mental health providers.

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Traditional Counseling Benefits And Drawbacks

Traditional counseling simply means in-person counseling, or face-to-face counseling. If you prefer to speak to your licensed counselor about potentially sensitive topics face-to-face, then traditional counseling may be the most suitable option for you. Some people report feeling more comfortable with their psychotherapist in person.

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However, in-person counseling requires clients to travel to meet their licensed counselors. People generally need to book appointments during their busy workdays, which means taking time off work to drive through traffic. Another drawback to traditional counseling is that many times clients are required to sit in waiting rooms together, and not everyone feels comfortable with the general lack of privacy. In addition, people may not have access to reputable counselors or other licensed mental health providers nearby, which can create challenges when it comes to meeting with licensed mental health providers on a consistent basis. 

Online Counseling Benefits And Drawbacks

If you feel nervous about speaking with your counselor or licensed mental health providers face-to-face, then online counseling or online therapy may be the best option for you. You may access online counseling platforms or online therapy platforms from the comfort and privacy of your own home. You don't need to waste any time getting to your appointment; you can connect with your licensed counselor right away (as long as you have an internet connection). 

A woman smiles at her licensed online counselor, and waves hello as they begin her session.

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Another benefit online counseling or online therapy offers is the frequency of communication with your licensed counselor. In traditional counseling, clients meet with their counselors or licensed mental health providers once a week. With online counseling or online therapy, you enjoy weekly live sessions with your licensed counselor (via video chat), but you also have unlimited messaging. This means if you're experiencing any symptoms of mental health issues in the middle of the night (like panic attacks or negative thoughts and behaviors due to PTSD or depression) you can message your licensed counselor in the moment. The next morning, you can see what your licensed counselor has replied.

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However, not everyone enjoys speaking with their counselors or licensed mental health providers via video chat in online therapy. As mentioned above, some people prefer to speak with their counselors face-to-face.

Moving Forward: Selecting Psychotherapy Approaches

The choice is ultimately yours; research and personal stories show that both online counseling or online therapy and traditional counseling are powerful tools for healing from mental health issues. 

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Both online counselors and traditional counselors face the necessary education, exams, and training requirements before becoming licensed counselors. For example, all BetterHelp counselors possess at least three years (and 1,000 hours) of hands-on experience. Psychotherapy (talk therapy) may include meeting with marriage and family therapists, counselors, psychologists, social workers, or other licensed mental health providers. All BetterHelp providers have been certified by their state's professional board.

How Can You Talk To a Counselor Online?


email communication with the BetterHelp app
Email. Emailing allows both parties to write a detailed message. The client can write all their feelings, and the counselor can write a detailed solution. This allows both parties to think about what they are trying to say. However, there is no tone of voice or body language, and the client may try to present himself or herself in the best light when it would be more effective for them to slip up.
text communication on the BetterHelp app
Texting. A messenger app may be used. Instant messages are quick and are good for those who need instant gratification. While quick, they are usually less thought out than email.
video chat using the BetterHelp app
Video Chatting. Having a face-to-face conversation through your computer or smartphone allows you to have an experience that's like traditional counseling. Body language and tone of voice is fully allowed. Live video chatting has improved quite a bit as well, so there is lesser lag. However, there is always a chance for technical difficulties.

Testimonials


Lauren McCoy at BetterHelp.com Lauren McCoy(MS, LMFT)

"I really feel a connection with Lauren. There's so many things going on in my life at this time. She helps me to focus on what I can work on for the week. She's great at talking with me and listening to me. Which has made me aware of some things in my life I didn't really pay a lot of attention to. She's a great counselor. I'm thankful for her and this online counseling. Thank you."

Written by Y.V.

Jessica Reed at BetterHelp.com Jessica Reed(LMHC) & Online Therapist

"I was ready to give up on finding an online counselor, Jessica was my last try, and she has really been everything I was looking for in a therapist here. I never wait long for a reply, if she won't be able to respond for a day or two she lets me know. It's just incredibly comforting to know your therapist is considering you on that level. I am so pleased with our sessions and progress so far and I'm so glad I tried that one more time."

Written by P.A.

Mary Brieske at BetterHelp.com Mary Brieske(MS, LPC, NCC)

"I was in a panic when I joined online counseling because I needed someone to talk to me and tell me they are there. Few minutes later, Mary came through. I typed out my worries and problems and we got right to it. Mary offered a lot of insight and hit the nail on the head as what was going on. Mary has helped me see things that my anxiety wasn't letting me. I'm thankful for Mary and the time she takes to answer my questions and encourages me to keep moving forward. I don't regret joining better help."

Written by J.U.

Lauren Abasheva at BetterHelp.com Lauren Abasheva(LMHC) & Online Counselor

"When I began my sessions with BetterHelp I was skeptical of how well online counseling would work for me, but after almost a month working with Lauren I feel better mentally than I have in a while. It was reassuring to receive her messages and helped me make peace with the issues that I was having. Lauren was relatable and overall a great counselor!"

Written by K.A.

Online Counseling Sessions: What To Expect


The First Session: Meeting With Licensed Mental Health Providers

  • The first session is usually the icebreaker, but is still an important first step for effective counseling services. You talk about yourself, your problems, and what you want out of the online therapy or online counseling session. The counselor, over time, will teach you in online therapy how to handle your problems by coming up with a plan. For example, with CBT, there may be exercises that are given to you to help you think more positively that other licensed therapists frequently recommend to help people. Behavioral therapy can help people gain insight into why they think the way that they do and help foster change.

How Long Before I Can See Results From Online Counseling?

  • One thing you should expect from online counseling or online therapy, and counseling/couples therapy, faithful counseling, teen counseling, and counseling in general, is that results are not instant. It may take months for your counseling to be effective. The therapist online that you work with can't force you to do anything but instead offers suggestions and strategies.

Will The Psychotherapy Process Vary For Different People?

  • If you do not see improvement from certain therapeutic approaches, licensed mental health providers will try different methods to find the right fit for you. Often, everyone's solution is a little different (even in online counseling or online therapy), and the counselor will work diligently to find the best solution for the job. An effective counselor (and good therapists or good licensed mental health providers in general) will often think outside the box if needed.

What If The Online Counselor's Personality Doesn't Fit With Mine?

  • Your sessions in online therapy are meant for you to deepen your understanding of yourself and what you need to create a healthy, fulfilling life (or process and recover from any mental health issues). If you do not feel comfortable opening up to your counselor during your online therapy session because they're not the right fit for you, do not worry. That is completely valid. At BetterHelp, if you request a different counselor, we will rematch you as soon as possible. 

What Are Common Methods That Licensed Mental Health Providers Use?

  • Licensed mental health providers (including psychologists, therapists, and counselors) typically employ the following techniques during online counseling, online therapy, or in-person therapy: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, and humanistic therapy. 

What Is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is widely recognized as a powerful treatment option for a wide range of mental health issues, including depression, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and phobias. CBT enables people to reframe their negative, destructive thoughts into empowering thoughts. This reframing leads to positive emotions and behaviors in situations that previously would have provoked the cycle of negative thoughts.

What Is Psychodynamic Therapy?

  • Psychodynamic therapy explores how past experiences affect your current feelings and decisions. By uncovering how you may have learned to protect yourself in the past (whether knowingly or unknowingly), you become more aware of your tendencies. This makes it easier to approach decisions rationally, instead of from a place of automatic reactions.

What Is Humanistic Therapy? 

  • Humanistic therapy focuses on how your perceptions influence the decisions you make. Humanistic therapists aim to offer support by understanding your past experiences, and operate on the assumption that you are the expert of your own needs. 
example BetterHelp session

The Benefits of Online Counseling


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Counselling online allows you the chance to connect with a counselor who isn't in your local area. They have a wealth of experience treating clients who are from all over the country and sometimes in other countries. The counselor you speak to may have a diverse cultural competency that a local counselor may not have.
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When you work with an online counselor, you can directly tell them what your communication needs are and work together to find the best way for you to feel understood. It's not always easy to express your feelings with a stranger. However, a therapist online is patient and realizes that this may be your first experience with virtual counseling or mental health treatment whatsoever. You're free to tell them how you best show your feelings and they're there to hear you.
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Sometimes it's hard to open up to a counselor in person about sensitive issues. If you've experienced severe trauma, for example, such as sexual assault or domestic violence you might feel vulnerable or scared to reveal your experience to anyone. An online counselor is used to working with clients who are frightened due to trauma. They can help you work through that fear in the privacy of your own home, or anywhere you feel the most comfortable.
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Couples therapy online is one of the many forms of treatment available online. There are many relationships where one member of the couple is frequently traveling for work or has trouble committing to a regular counseling time. With online therapy, treatment is more flexible than working in the office with a provider and has the potential to save a marriage or long-term partnerships. If you're seeking a relationship counselor, it's worth considering working with a mental health professional online.

Is Counseling Online Effective?


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Here are a few studies that have proven online counselling's effectiveness.

Discover more about online counseling below:
    • One study revealed that Internet-based cognitive behavioral counseling and therapy services could help individuals who have moderate depression or anxiety; one of the many things this type of counseling offers. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a commonly used counseling technique that involves replacing behaviors or thoughts that can fuel one's depression or anxiety with more positive thoughts or behaviors.
    • Another study reveals that online counseling (specifically, online CBT) is just as effective as in-person CBT; which is why a growing number of people are using our counseling services on the BetterHelp platform (all therapists are licensed) and are OK with using this method of receiving therapy.

Who Will Be Helping Me?

All BetterHelp licensed mental health providers possess at least three years of hands-on experience. In addition, all licensed mental health providers with BetterHelp have been certified by their state's professional licensing board. BetterHelp providers include marriage and family therapists, social workers, psychologists, counselors, and other licensed mental health professionals who are trained to help people process emotions, face challenges and struggles, and recover from mental disorders (such as depression, anxiety, addiction, or eating disorders). 

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It can be scary to start therapy, but taking this step means you're ready to start (or continue) your healing journey. That deserves recognition-well done! Working with your licensed mental health professional typically entails meeting with them during weekly scheduled visits. Each meeting is an opportunity for you to discuss what you would like to gain from psychotherapy. Perhaps you want to process and heal from a past traumatic relationship. Maybe you need gentle guidance while grieving a loss. You might be looking for ways to increase self-confidence. You might simply need an unbiased consultation to determine next steps in your career path. There are a range of struggles and related situations that people face in life, and as humans, we benefit from interacting with providers who understand and can offer unbiased support.

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Take a moment to think about what you would like to gain from psychotherapy. Each meeting is an opportunity for you to advocate for your needs. If you're not sure, that's completely okay too. Everyone starts at different places in their healing.

Meet Some Of Our Counselors

All Therapists Are Licensed & Experienced With 1,000 Hours of Hands-On Experience

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Specialties: Relationship issues/marriage counselingFamily conflictsParenting issuesCareer difficulties via online & traditional therapy
Years of Experience: 8
 
counseling
 
Specialties: AddictionsRelationship issues/marriage counselingFamily conflictsTrauma and abuse
Years of Experience: 7
 
counseling
 
Specialties: Stress, AnxietyTrauma and abuseAnger managementSelf esteemDepression Online Therapy Services
Years of Experience: 6
 
counseling
 
Specialties: Stress, AnxietyRelationship issues/marriage counselingSelf esteemDepressionCoping with life changes using tratitional therapy
Years of Experience: 12


Carla Noto-Vencill
MA,LMFT
Specialties: Stress, Anxiety, Addictions, Relationship issues, Family conflicts, Parenting issues
Years of Experience: 29

Gina Found
MA,LMFT
Specialties: Stress, Anxiety, Addictions, Relationship issues, Depression
Years of Experience: 11


Dr. Jonathan Dunlap
DPC,LPC-S,BC-TMH
Specialties: Stress, Anxiety, Parenting issues, Anger management, Self esteem, ADHD
Years of Experience: 13

Elizabeth Carr
LPC,NCC
Specialties: Stress, Anxiety, Family conflicts, Parenting issues, Self-esteem
Years of Experience: 6

Sam Jenkins
MSW,MFA,LCSW
Specialties: LGBT, Intimacy-related issues, Self-esteem, Depression
Years of Experience: 25

Zach Johnston
LCSW
Specialties: Stress, Anxiety, Family conflicts, Parenting issues, Self-esteem
Years of Experience: 5

Karie Leduc
LICSW
Specialties: Stress, Anxiety, Family conflicts, Depression, Coping with life changes, ADHD
Years of Experience: 17

Online Counseling Concerns


Do Online Counseling Concerns Have You Worried?

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Counseling should be private.

  • If you or your counselor is outside in public while you're in the middle of a session, you may want to reconsider rescheduling the appointment since online therapy is usually best suited with a measure of privacy; as should all online therapy services. With online therapy, therapists can access you through phone or video, on the online therapy platform specifically that you are using. You can also connect with them using unlimited messaging therapy, which is your doctor on demand They can usually be accessed through mobile apps, depending on what online therapy platform you're using.


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When would traditional counseling be more appropriate?

  • While online counseling or online therapy is effective, the studies have shown that talking to someone in person is more effective if your problems are severe. If your depression or anxiety is intense, or if you are feeling suicidal, you may want to speak to someone in person during a traditional therapy session and not using an online therapy platform like this.

Where can I view additional information about the following topic areas?

  • Online counseling
  • Online counselors
  • Internet counseling
  • Internet therapy

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Want to see more information on the topics listed above? Please see:

FAQ


We know you want to get help, and that's why we make sure you're matched quickly with a licensed therapist who suits your individual needs. We'll match you with the right counselor for you within 24 hours. Rest assured that you don't have to wait long at all. We're working hard to get you started with online counseling as soon as possible.
If you feel more comfortable being anonymous, we honor that need. BetterHelp (leading online therapy services globally) wants you to feel comfortable sharing your feelings with your counselor, and you don't have to disclose your full name; and remember, all therapists are licensed. You can even have a nickname if that makes you feel comfortable. What's most important is you getting help from the best online therapists available, feeling comfortable, and secure. Of the more than 110,000,000 online sessions our licensed counselors have had with people dealing with things like depression, anxiety, stress, getting marriage counseling (aka... couples therapy) with a family therapist, family relationship counseling, or simply an alternative to traditional face-to-face therapy.
Depending on what your goal is, your counselor can teach you a lot. You might be interested in learning how to cope with depression. An online counselor who specializes in Cognitive Behavior Therapy can teach you strategies to deal with negative thought patterns and reframe your thinking so that you can cope with depression and start to feel better. You might work through a traumatic experience, learn your triggers and start to heal. There are so many skills you can acquire during online therapy sessions; which is why taking the time you need to find a therapist that best suits you is worth the effort. Start learning what those skills are today!
The relationship with your counselor is unique. You can see your licensed therapist as long as you want to so that you get the support you need. Everyone's journey is different, and there's no timeline for healing. You have the right to take your mental health into your hands. You and your counselor can collectively decide how frequent you meet and how long your relationship continues.

About BetterHelp Online Counseling & Therapy Services


BetterHelp is an online therapy service founded in 2013 by Alon Matas and a growing hub for online counseling and therapy focused on offering digital therapy sessions when and where you need them. While having confidence that our therapists are licensed, they're also a group who have worked with clients in their private practices are expanding their careers and accepting clients online, which means you're choosing from seasoned, highly-rated mental health professionals who know how to help you and your needs. Currently, over 40,000,000 sessions & counseling services have helped over a million people with their mental health. You can read some counseling personal stories on our success page.
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More Places To Find Us 

 
Online therapy is a personal experience, and not everyone will go into it seeking the same things. But, keeping these nine things in mind can ensure that you will get the most out of online therapy, regardless of what your specific goals are. If you’re still wondering if online therapy is right for you, and how much online therapy costs, please contact us at contact@betterhelp.com.
 
BetterHelp specializes in online therapy to help address all types of mental health concerns. If you’re interested in individual online therapy, please reach out to contact@betterhelp.com. For more information about BetterHelp as a company, please find us on 

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