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What is Online Counseling?

Online counseling is simply mental health counseling done through the Internet. By the Internet, we mean any device that has access to the World Wide Web. Your computer can be used for online counseling, and so can your smartphone. During online counseling, you may speak to your counselor through different methods.

Why People Choose Online Over Traditional Counseling

  • Disability. Someone who has a disability or a fear of getting outside may find it hard to travel to a counselor's office every week or so. Being able to talk from home will be much more beneficial to them because of this.
  • Someone may have no transportation to commute to an office. Or they may live in a place where a counselor lives too far away.
  • Social awkwardness. If someone is not comfortable talking to a counselor face-to-face, being able to text them or speak through the phone may be more comforting. While someone should face their fears of talking to people, online counseling is a good way to ease someone into the communication.
  • Counseling at their schedule. Not everyone works a traditional 9 to 5, and has the schedule to talk to a counselor. Online counseling has a very flexible schedule, allowing someone to make an appointment based on his or her own time.
  • It can be cheaper. Online counseling is less costly due to the remoteness of it. Counselors don't need their own office and can work at home if they want to. This cuts the cost without cutting the quality.

How Can You Talk To a Counselor Online?

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.
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 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. Video chatting has improved quite a bit as well, so there is lesser lag. However, there is always a chance for technical difficulties.


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(LMHC)

"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(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(LMHC)

"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.

How A Session Goes

With online counseling, you're matched to a counselor based on your preference. While all the counselors are qualified, many will prefer a younger, older, male, or female counselor. Once that happens, here is what you can expect.
  • The first session is usually the icebreaker. You talk about yourself, your problems, and what you want out of the counseling session. The counselor, over time, will teach you 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.
  • One thing you should expect from online counseling, and counseling in general, is that results are not instant. It may take months for your counseling to be effective. Also, it's often up to you. The counselor can't force you to do anything, but instead offers suggestions and strategies. If you don't take their advice, don't be surprised if life doesn't improve.
  • If their advice doesn't work, they will try something different. Often, everyone's solution is a little different, and the counselor will work diligently to find the best solution for the job. A good counselor will often think outside the box if needed.

The Benefits of Online Counseling

Online counseling 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.
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. But an online counselor 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.
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.
Couples counseling 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 counseling, 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 Online Counseling Effective?

Here are a few studies that have proven online counseling's effectiveness.
  • One study revealed that Internet-based cognitive behavioral counseling can help with those who have moderate depression or anxiety. 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 CBT is just as effective as in-person CBT.

Concerns of Online Counseling

  • Counseling should be private. If your counselor is outside in public while you're performing your session, you may want to reconsider it. Your counseling session should be private.
  • While online counseling 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.


We know you want to get help, and that's why we make sure you're matched quickly with a counselor 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 wants you to feel comfortable sharing your feelings with your counselor, and you don't have to disclose your full name. You can even have a nickname if that makes you feel comfortable. What's most important is you getting help and feeling comfortable and secure.
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 in online counseling. Start learning what they are!
The relationship with your counselor is unique. You can see your counselor 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

BetterHelp is a growing hub for online counseling. Many counselors who have worked with clients in their private practices are expanding their careers and accepting clients online, which means you're choosing from seasoned mental health professionals who know how to help you and your needs. Currently, over 32 million sessions have helped people with their mental health. Now it's time for you to meet with an online therapist who can help get you the support you're seeking, and it's easy to find. Thousands of counselors from across the world are ready to connect with you. Whether you have a mental health issue or need advice, seeking online counseling can help.

For more information about our counseling services, please visit our FAQ section.