With the COVID-19 pandemic looming over us, it can be hard to keep a consistent routine. Staying at home every single day can also leave people feeling restless and anxious. This is partly why online therapy has become a rising trend over the past few months, even though remote therapy over the phone and email has been around for more than 20 years.
Therapy does wonders for our health and well-being. If you regularly attended in-person therapy sessions before the pandemic, you might want to consider trying online therapy. Read more about how online therapy works as well as what you should look for in an online therapist.
What is Online Therapy?
Online therapy involves providing mental health services over the internet. These are usually provided over video chat, but therapy can also be done through the following media:
- Text messaging
- Mobile apps
- Real-time chat
Advances in technology have made online therapy a viable option for millions of people all over the world. The World Journal of Psychiatry has reported that many people find online therapy to be effective and have “high levels of satisfaction” with this method.
In addition to videoconferencing, mobile apps like Talkspace, Regain and BetterHelp have become a popular medium through which people can interact with therapists.
What You Should Look for in an Online Therapy Program
As therapists you see in person can have all kinds of certifications and qualifications, so can online therapists. That being said, you want to make sure your online counselor has the proper credentials to be performing therapy. Any therapist must be licensed by the state in which they practice.
You should also factor in the times that online therapy is available. This is especially something to take into consideration if you work from home.
Make sure the therapist, website, or app you use promises confidentiality. The point of therapy is to have a safe and secure space in which you can open up and share thoughts and feelings. You must make sure that your therapist or mobile app is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which promises confidentiality.
How to Find Online Therapy
Since online therapists are a dime a dozen these days, narrowing down the best counselor or mobile app isn’t always easy. If you see a therapist you don’t like or feel comfortable with, you’re going to end up wasting a lot of time and money. Here are a few ways to find the best online therapy for you.
- Figure out what you want in an online therapy experience. What goals do you want to work on in therapy? Would you feel more comfortable with a male or female therapist? How long do you want your sessions to be? Would you rather do video calls or send text messages to each other? These are all questions to take into consideration when looking for your mental health counselor. You can also think about different types of therapy you’ll want to try:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT focuses on a patient’s negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and helps you change them to make more productive decisions.
- Psychodynamic therapy: This method of therapy centers on a patient’s unconscious thoughts. The therapist merely guides the session while the patient freely associates.
- Interpersonal therapy (IPT): IPT focuses on interpersonal relationships and their communication patterns to improve symptoms of depression.
- Search the internet: Psychology-centered websites like Psychology Today and VeryWell Mind usually create lists that rank the best online therapy programs of the year, and they also list the pros and cons of each program. Talkspace and BetterHelp are consistently ranked among the top online therapy mobile apps. Psychology Today also has a database on which you can find online therapists, and from there you can filter by who will be the best fit by an insurance provider, location, etc.
- Ask a friend or coworker: Do you know someone who uses online therapy? Ask what program or individual therapist has worked best for them.
The goal of online therapy (and therapy in general) is to find a counselor with whom you’ll have a long-lasting relationship. Trust is an important component of therapy, and you want to make sure you have this with your mental health practitioner. Don’t settle until you find a therapist with whom you feel comfortable. Try out a few different ones before you decide on your favorite.
Benefits of Online Therapy
Online therapy has several benefits that make it a convenient choice for people wanting to improve their mental health. Carefully consider all of these advantages before you decide to delve into online therapy.
Affordability and Convenience
You can log on to online therapy from literally anywhere that has an internet connection, which makes it convenient for people who work remotely. You can also schedule therapy at a time that best fits into your schedule.
Online therapy is also relatively affordable. Since conventional therapists have to pay for things like overhead costs for their office, online therapists have fewer costs to deal with since they can work from anywhere. Mobile therapy apps like Talkspace and BetterHelp also offer various affordable price points. These have become popular with the rise of smartphones.
Your insurance may also include coverage for online therapy. Contact your insurance provider to see if it covers any kind of virtual therapy.
Access to Therapy in Remote Areas
Online therapy can be a good option for people who live in remote or rural areas and can’t easily get to a psychiatrist’s office. People who live in these areas have limited access to medical offices, so they might find remote therapy to be a good option.
Access to Therapy if You’re Housebound
For people with chronic disabilities and illnesses who can’t leave the house, online therapy can be a lifesaver. Limited mobility can cause issues when it comes to health care. For example, therapists who practice from home might not have accessibility for people in wheelchairs.
People with disabilities can access online therapy from the comfort of their own homes.
Disadvantages of Online Therapy
As there are several benefits of online therapy, there are also some cons to it. Some insurance providers don’t cover online therapy. This depends on what kind of policy you have and where you live. If you need to pay out-of-pocket, costs can quickly add up.
There is also the issue of confidentiality. Under HIPAA, therapists agree not to disclose any information from a session to other people. However, since online therapy is over the internet, hackers can break into a video conference and learn information about you.
Another thing to note is that online therapists can’t assist you if you’re having a crisis. It can be difficult for a counselor to respond to this if they’re far away from you.
Online Therapy and Serious Mental Illness
Online therapy can be beneficial for people who need to work out a variety of situations, but it’s not appropriate for people with serious psychiatric issues. Mental health disorders like schizophrenia, addiction, and severe depression will require more than online therapy. Speak with your doctor to see if you need additional forms of therapy and medication.
See What Online Therapy Can Do for You
If you’re curious about online therapy, try it out to see if it’s the right method for your needs. If you find that you don’t mesh well with therapy over the internet, contact our representatives at Ken Seeley Rehab and learn about other possible therapy options.