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Online Counseling Explained - What Is It? How Can It Help You?

Updated June 15, 2020

By Michelle Loyd

Reviewed By Aaron Horn

 

  • Simply put, the best online counseling service is mental health counseling done through the Internet that provides therapy sessions using technology. By the Internet, we mean any device that has access to the World Wide Web. Your computer can be used for this type of online counseling/therapy service, and so can your smartphone with the mobile app. It’s helpful to have different options to choose from, whether you want to talk to your therapist on a computer or a smartphone. The mobile app is useful for those who are on the go, or people who travel a lot for work. You can download it in the Google Play store or for the App store for iOS. During a counseling session, you may speak to your counselor through a variety of methods. You may prefer text, video, or audio chat. Text therapy is a legitimate form of treatment where you can receive quality counseling services. Professionals who offer online therapy have hours of hands-on experience. Some treat trauma, PTSD, and issues that plague people for years. 
  • It’s important to make sure that any provider you work with is a licensed mental health professional. That way they have the knowledge and expertise to provide therapy that works. Search our network of providers and find an online counselor who is for you. And don't worry all of our therapists are licensed and provide the counseling services (in their areas of expertise) you deserve using our online therapy platform. It’s crucial to contact the counselor whose profile speaks to you. You should know that the professionals who offer online counseling pay close attention to what they write in their bios so that they can provide quality distance counseling to clients. You can contact the counselor who is skilled at treating your individual needs. Keep reading our coverage below to learn more about best online therapy services we offer on our platform.

Online Counseling Versus Traditional Counseling


Why BetterHelp - Online Mental Health Professionals

 

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  • Disability. Someone who has a disability (whether or not it relates to mental health) or a fear of getting outside may find it hard to travel to a counselor's office every week or so to address mental health concerns. Being able to talk from home with online therapy services will be much more beneficial to them because of this.
  • Someone may have no transportation to commute to an office. Alternatively, they may live in a place where a counselor lives too far away. Taking the time to choose the best online counseling is a perfect alternative.
  • Social awkwardness. If someone is not comfortable talking to a counselor face-to-face, being able to text them or speak through the phone or use of live video. Sometimes people feel shy during video sessions, and texting may be more comforting. While someone should face their fears of talking to people, when trying the best online therapy service option suited for you with a counselor is a good way to ease someone into communication (with text, video and audio).
  • Counseling for mental health at their schedule. Not everyone works a traditional 9 to 5 and has the schedule to talk to a counselor and receive important counseling or couples therapy services; and the good thing about our platform is that all of our therapists are licensed. Online therapy has a very flexible schedule, allowing someone to make an appointment based on his or her own time with their counselor. These online mental health professionals respond to messages throughout the day. Having access to a counselor who cares is easy. You can have online communication with a licensed clinical counselor with unlimited access to messaging. You can also connect through video, or phone depending on how you feel comfortable communicating. Chat sessions on the online platform are a great way to start revealing your feelings in safe confidential space. 
  • It can be cheaper. Counseling on the internet 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; thus cutting the cost without cutting the quality of service being offered via online therapy. Also, the sign-up process is simple and easy to get started - as oftentimes you do not have to deal with insurance companies. Your health plans may cover psychotherapy online, so don’t assume anything. It’s best to check with your insurance company. All health plans are different, so it’s best not to assume anything. Also, as opposed to an employee assistance plan, online therapy offers ongoing counseling sessions. There are a variety of pricing options depending on your needs.

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


With the best online therapy services solution available with a licensed counselor (yes, we confirm that all of our therapists are licensed), you're matched to a counselor based on your preference of communication; either live video, text messaging, or telephone... never having to worry about traveling to an office. And remember, you can always connect with your therapist in between sessions using unlimited messaging therapy with your doctor on demand. People enter online therapy for different reasons, whether it’s for individual therapy or couples counseling. If you’re struggling with your relationship, you may want to consider online marriage counseling. Whatever the reason you are seeking mental health treatment, you should feel good about your choice to better your wellbeing. When you are using video sessions you can see your counselor’s face, and feel connected to them. While all the counselors are qualified, many will prefer a younger, older, male, or female counselor the provide the counseling services needed. Once that happens, here is what you can expect.

  • 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 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 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.
  • One thing you should expect from online counseling, 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.
  • If their advice doesn't work, they will try something different. Often, everyone's solution is a little different (even in online counseling), 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, and will be one of the many therapists that are licensed.
example BetterHelp session

The Benefits of Online Counseling


1
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.
2
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.
3
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.
4
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.

    • 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 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.

 

Meet Some Of Our Counselors - All Therapists Are Licensed & Experienced With 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
 
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Specialties: AddictionsRelationship issues/marriage counselingFamily conflictsTrauma and abuse
Years of Experience: 7
 
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Specialties: Stress, AnxietyTrauma and abuseAnger managementSelf esteemDepression Online Therapy Services
Years of Experience: 6
 
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Specialties: Stress, AnxietyRelationship issues/marriage counselingSelf esteemDepressionCoping with life changes using tratitional therapy
Years of Experience: 12
 
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Specialties: Stress, AnxietyTrauma and abuseSelf esteemBipolar disorderDepression
Years of Experience: 8
 
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Specialties: Stress, AnxietyTrauma and abuseSelf esteemDepression
Years of Experience: 12
 
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Specialties: Stress, AnxietyRelationship issues/marriage counselingFamily conflictsDepression
Years of Experience: 4
 
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Specialties: Stress, AnxietyTrauma and abuseDepressionCoping with life changes like other therapists online
Years of Experience: 7
 
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Specialties: Stress, AnxietyFamily conflictsParenting issuesSelf esteemDepression
Years of Experience: 9
 
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Specialties: Stress, AnxietyTrauma and abuseSelf esteemDepressionCoping with life changes
Years of Experience: 5
 
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Specialties: Stress, AnxietyRelationship issuesFamily conflictsTrauma and abuse (understanding the importance of privacy and confidentiality)Depression
Years of Experience: 5
 
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Specialties: Stress, AnxietyFamily conflictsParenting issuesAnger managementCoping with life changes by offering online counseling and therapy
Years of Experience: 22
 
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Specialties: Stress, AnxietyRelationship issuesTrauma and abuseSelf esteemDepression
Years of Experience: 7
 
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Specialties: Relationship issuesTrauma and abuseSelf esteemDepressionCoping with life changes
Years of Experience: 11
 
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Specialties: Trauma and abuseGriefEating disordersSelf esteemCoaching via online counseling and therapy
Years of Experience: 25
 
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Specialties: Stress, AnxietyRelationship issuesParenting issuesDepression
Years of Experience: 4
 
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Specialties: Stress, AnxietyRelationship issuesFamily conflictsIntimacy-related issuesSelf esteem
Years of Experience: 4
 
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Specialties: Stress, AnxietyRelationship issuesTrauma and abuseParenting issuesDepression
Years of Experience: 18
 
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Specialties: Stress, AnxietyAddictionsRelationship issuesDepression
Years of Experience: 9
 

Online Counseling Concerns?


Online Counseling Concerns Have You Worried?

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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 85,000,000 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 a therapy service founded in 2013 by Alon Matas and a growing hub for online counseling and therapy focused on offering 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 mental health professionals who know how to help you and your needs. Currently, over 40,000,000 sessions & counseling services have helped people with their mental health. You can read some counseling personal stories on our success page. 

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; even if that means you're looking for video therapy, couples counseling, relationship counseling, teen counseling, are located in one of the many rural areas, just want confidentiality and privacy, you can try and start therapy on our platform today. Find your counselor here at BetterHelp, and start chatting right away. Online therapy growth has increased over the years. It’s becoming more popular than ever. Video sessions with a therapist help you see their face, and they can read your emotions. You can also speak to a counselor by phone or start chatting with them through the messaging option. Online therapy services diverse populations such as the LGBT community and faithful counseling. You can find online counseling services for your specific mental health needs. When you see a therapist who is based online, there are so many different treatment options. 

If you are living with a mental illness, the counselors at BetterHelp can support you in developing coping skills for your condition. So many people live with mental illness. Swimmer Michael Phelps has been vocal about how much therapy helped him deal with his mental health concerns. For those living with bipolar disorder, an online therapist can help you work on strategies to cope with mood fluctuations between depression and mania. If you’re taking medicine for your mental illness, your counselor can support you while you continue with medication management with an outside provider, such as a psychiatrist. Online counselors can help you learn to manage depression, anxiety, and stress, which are among the common issues people can talk about in therapy. Online therapy is different than support groups. You are receiving the caring ear of a mental health provider who is dedicated to your mental wellness. You can think of them as a doctor on demand. 

With unlimited messaging therapy, you can connect with your online therapist between sessions to get support. Sometimes you need to get thoughts off your chest, and you don’t want to forget them between sessions. That’s where unlimited messaging therapy can be extremely useful. You can write a message to your online counselor, a licensed mental health professional, even when you’re not in session. It’s a rare advantage to have this much access to your therapist; especially when you’re not seeing them in a full session. Unlimited messaging therapy helps people feel connected to their therapist anytime they feel alone. It’s like having a doctor on demand. Messaging an online counselor is a great option for teen counseling. Many teens are more comfortable expressing their emotions through text rather than phone, or video. Each person has a specific way they feel the most comfortable communicating their feelings, and that’s why online counseling is so versatile. 

Thousands of counselors, licensed mental health professionals, from across the world are ready to connect with you to address your mental health needs, providing the support and therapy services you need; meaning you can get matched with a therapist anytime that's best suited for you (versus scheduling issues with in-office therapy). Your doctor on demand, who is a private online therapist, is providing you with excellent mental health services for your specific needs. Whether you have a mental health issue or need advice, seeking counseling from a platform like ours where therapists are licensed can provide you with the support and help you need in bettering yours and other people's lives (with chat sessions). 

Messaging a therapist may not seem like it could help, but it’s a powerful form of mental health services. Chat sessions are confidential, and can feel freeing to clients. You can talk about a variety of issues, such as anxiety, stress or other mental health concerns. Chat sessions allow you to work on coping skills with a licensed professional therapist. Online counseling offers so many benefits to users, and the sign-up process is simple. You can start chatting with a licensed mental health professional in no time. There are many different forms of counseling to choose from, including marriage and family therapy, counseling for the LGBT community, teen counseling, and more. You can learn about online therapy on our about page and begin the sign-up process if you like what you see.

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Find Us In The News

OCTOBER 15

All-you-can-text Therapy Services

By Joshua Fruhlinger

"My BetterHelp therapist asked the same kinds of thought-provoking questions as the traditional therapists I worked with in the past. (What is it about your future that you're unsure of? Can you tell me about your old life and what is different now?) Because of the continuing, open-ended nature of the text chat, however, she helped me identify anxiety triggers and coping mechanisms much faster than it would have taken had we met only once a week. What's more, I came to find that launching the BetterHelp site on my smartphone or laptop and writing out my thoughts became therapeutic in itself."

 
APRIL 28

Therapy changing as people seek mental health services

 
By Jennifer Mulson

Online therapy is growing, in no small part due to our new way of being in the world, but even before everything went haywire, it was gaining traction.

"A lot of the user base that's interested are people who have never set foot in a therapist's office," says Haesue Jo, a licensed therapist and clinical support lead at BetterHelp, an online counseling and therapy service that provides web-based, phone and text interaction. "This is a way for people to stick their toe in the water if they've been fearful of talking to a therapist before."

BetterHelp has been around for six years, though teletherapy has been available for longer than that. Jo says her service is growing exponentially every year.

 

MARCH 17

Online mental health services spike up during pandemic

By Bambi Francisco Roizen

"'We've heard from our therapists how Coronavirus increased the level of anxiety with their current clients. We've also seen a spike in people starting online therapy with us,' Alon Matas, President of Teladoc's BetterHelp, told me. 'The number of new members with concerns of stress and anxiety in February more than doubled compared to February of last year, and this trend is accelerating in March.' BetterHelp is providing free service for clients who have been financially impacted by the outbreak (e.g. layoff or loss of income). For new clients, the company is offering financial aid that can cover up to 50% of the counseling cost. Counselors will still be paid but BetterHelp will subsidize the loss."

Real User Reviews

BetterHelp review #108518
Date of review: June 15, 2020
Review written by BetterHelp user J.E. after counseling with David Haynik for 1 year and 4 months on issues concerning depression, family conflicts, trauma and abuse, and anger management

At a difficult point in my life, David offered me help which has been truly transformative. I’ve struggled with depression for many, many years. Thanks to David’s compassionate help, I feel like I’m finally on the mend and making great progress towards getting my life back. Thank you, David.

BetterHelp Review For David Haynik David Haynik - (More reviews)LCSW

 

BetterHelp review #108514
Date of review: June 15, 2020
Review written by BetterHelp user L.Y. after counseling with Krysten Rohlik for 1 month on issues concerning depression, stress, anxiety, relationship issues, family conflicts, grief, intimacy-related issues, self esteem, coping with life changes, and compassion fatigue

Krysten is a great listener! She positively dissects my issues and reiterates them back to me so I can learn to understand my situation from another perspective. She is one of the most understanding individuals I have talked to and asks all the right questions to help me move forward!

BetterHelp Review For Krysten Rohlik Krysten Rohlik - (More reviews)MS, LPC

 

BetterHelp review #108508
Date of review: June 15, 2020
Review written by BetterHelp user V.A. after counseling with Brandon Woffinden for 2 weeks on issues concerning stress, anxiety, relationship issues, and family conflicts

Brandon has been extremely helpful and compassionate. He responds quickly and with relevant and useful responses (which hasn’t always been the case for me with online therapy). He does so much more than just listen, although he listens very well. He has provided valuable insight and outside recommendations that I can do on my own and he follows up. The book that he recommended has really opened my eyes and helped change my perspective. He challenges some of the negative ways I am thinking and helps to identify some of my mental blind spots. I would highly recommend him to a friend!

BetterHelp Review For Brandon Woffinden Brandon Woffinden - (More reviews)CMHC

 

BetterHelp review #108501
Date of review: June 15, 2020
Review written by BetterHelp user T.E. after counseling with Pamela Walker for 6 months on issues concerning stress, anxiety, trauma and abuse, self esteem, and coping with life changes

I've been seeing Pamela since 2019 and have enjoyed her expertise. She's brought a fresh and refreshing perspective to what I've been dealing with. Pamela is also down to earth, kind, supportive, has a great energy, empathetic and listens. She also checks on me in between sessions, something I've never experienced before with therapists. I highly recommend Pamela.

 


To learn more about online counseling services (versus traveling to an office), please visit our FAQ section or watch a video about therapy and counseling online we've published on the topic. You can also contact us here or send us an email at contact@betterhelp.com. 

It's important to note that if you are suicidal, you should not use this site. If you are in a crisis or any other person may be in danger - do not use this site. If you need a doctor on demand, do not use this site. If you are in a crisis, call +1 (800) 273-8255 or 911 which can provide you with immediate help, or text HOME to 741741.

 

References

Gerben J Westerhof, PhD, Sanne M A Lamers, PhD, Marloes G Postel, PhD, Ernst T Bohlmeijer, PhD, Online Therapy for Depressive Symptoms: An Evaluation of Counselor-Led and Peer-Supported Life Review Therapy, The Gerontologist, Volume 59, Issue 1, February 2019,

Sweeney GM, Donovan CL, March S, Forbes Y. Logging into therapy: Adolescent perceptions of online therapies for mental health problems. Internet Interv. 2016;15:93-99. Published 2016 Dec 24. doi:10.1016/j.invent.2016.12.001

Wentzel J, van der Vaart R, Bohlmeijer ET, van Gemert-Pijnen JE. Mixing Online and Face-to-Face Therapy: How to Benefit From Blended Care in Mental Health Care. JMIR Ment Health. 2016;3(1):e9. Published 2016 Feb 9. doi:10.2196/mental.4534

Stasiak K, Fleming T, Lucassen MF, Shepherd MJ, Whittaker R, Merry SN. Computer-Based and Online Therapy for Depression and Anxiety in Children and Adolescents. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2016;26(3):235-245. doi:10.1089/cap.2015.0029

 

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