About Online Therapy: Everything You Need to Know

By Shannon V. McHugh, PsyD

Want to know more about online therapy? This article reveals everything about this form of psychotherapy, from its definition and benefits to how it works, who it’s perfect for, and more. If you’re considering online therapy, here, you’ll learn why more people are turning to this solution and why you can follow suit.

What Does Online Therapy Mean?

The first thing to know is the definition. In that regard, online therapy/ counseling refers to professional psychological counseling over the internet. Email, real-time texting, and video-conferencing are examples of users’ channels when accessing web-based psychological support.

Just like its conventional counterpart, online counseling can happen in real-time, dependent on the provider’s arrangements. It is swiftly becoming a popular form of therapy among many, thanks to benefits such as convenience and easy access.

How Effective Is Web-based Psychotherapy?

When discussing web-based therapy, many treatment seekers will want to know something regarding its effectiveness. According to a 2018 study, web-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a successful and admissible practice. Moreover, the document reveals that web-based CBT was just as helpful as conventional psychotherapy for severe depression, among other psychological conditions.

Web counseling can also serve as a path to its conventional alternative. When digital psychological approaches result in excellent outcomes, therapy seekers may be more willing to proceed with in-person counseling. According to a study chaperoned by Megan Jones, PsyD, college students who required additional support for eating problems were more likely to look for it after attending a digital body-image intervention with a web-based practitioner.

The Advantages of Online Therapy

Online counseling has some pluses over its conventional counterpart. Want to know about these pros? Check them out.

Accessibility

Easy access is one thing about this form of therapy that many individuals appreciate. It allows those located remotely to get psychological support when they are limited by geography or lack of facilities. This way, it keeps them from commuting over long distances, wasting time, and rescheduling plans just to get help. Online psychotherapy is also more accessible for persons living with various disabilities.

Anonymity

Another good thing about web-based psychotherapy is that users can stay anonymous when seeking help. Many websites ask visitors to register with “nicknames” to hide their true identities. Allowing this entices individuals who otherwise would be hesitant to get support or treatment under their true names.

Time Effective

According to research, this remedy needs 7.8 times less of a psychotherapist’s time than conventional psychological support. As a result, practitioners can attend to more help seekers under this form of cooperation.

Openness and Honesty

These two are necessary to ensure the success of the procedure. With web-based support, users do not have to reveal their details, making them more honest and open about how they feel.

Affordability

Online therapy rates are more reasonable compared to those of its conventional counterpart. It is understandable since online mental health professionals do not have overhead costs, such as rent. Moreover, many administrative departments stipulate that insurance providers ought to cover online psychotherapy. In light of these, offsetting the charges of online therapy becomes quite feasible.

Convenient Schedules

With online counseling, all meetings are attended from wherever, be it in at home, secluded office block, or even the train. Given this, you can always plan your appointments at convenient times.

Relaxed Setting

Before getting counseling, you should be calm and in the right state of mind. Online therapy makes it easy for you to be in your element during meetings since you do not have to fret about bumping into a familiar face in the waiting area.

How Online Therapy Works

Searching the internet for online counseling providers is the first step to accessing this form of psychological support. A quick search will show a results page with various therapists, each with different specializations, rates, and schedules. Check for reviews and other essential aspects to ensure that you get the best therapist for your issue.

After that, make a point of ensuring that you acquire an array of essential resources for online counseling. These are:

  • An internet-enabled device;
  • Stable internet (min 3Mbps/sec, Upload: 3Mbps/sec. Ping: 25);
  • Headphones with microphone;
  • Notebook.
With online psychotherapy, you can access help in several ways. Below are some of the channels for accessing/ delivering online counseling:
  • Telephone call;
  • Video conferencing;
  • SMS;
  • App;
  • Live chat;
  • Email.

How an Online Therapy Meeting Works

What is the point of learning about therapy if you do not understand how an appointment is conducted? Though online therapy is delivered using emails or telephones, today, many meetings leverage video. The process mirrors conventional therapy and commences with one or two appointments to familiarize the therapist and the patient.

After completing this phase, the psychotherapist may ask to learn more about the therapy seeker’s problems and suggest habit changes or self-reflection. Given the risk of third-party interference, the psychologists may ask you to do the following things to secure your meetings:
  • Log in from a private network;
  • Lock the PC to bar others from accessing your meetings;
  • Access online therapy over a secure therapy platform.
Regrading confidentiality, users need to inquire about what to do to ensure that their details are not stolen or intercepted. Each expert will have a set of unique strategies for securing user information.

Who Is Online Therapy Perfect For?

When researching about online therapy, it is normal to wonder who this treatment is ideal for ultimately. It is an excellent solution for anyone hesitant about getting support due to fear of others discovering their problems. The reasoning behind this is that the therapy seeker can reach out for assistance anonymously and at ideal moments.

Regardless of their privacy concerns, anyone seeking psychological support will find online therapy to be helpful. It will prove handy in offering the right support for an array of psychological conditions.

It also helps to note that some online therapy providers specify the demographics/ problems they do not serve. As such, check out such lists to ensure that your issue is not excluded before making an appointment. Some providers will not cater to those with severe mental problems, suicidal thoughts, and psychosis.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Online Therapy Work?

Yes. This form of psychological support is just as effective as its conventional counterpart. Various studies have revealed that it is an excellent treatment approach for an array of conditions. These include depression, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.

Is Online Therapy Cheaper?

Pricing is an essential consideration when thinking about counseling. Compared to conventional support, this form of psychological assistance is cheaper due to an array of reasons. Since the psychologist does not incur any overhead, it translates to more reasonable rates. Besides, many insurers now cover internet-based psychotherapy.

Is Online Therapy Safe?

This kind of treatment is safe if encryption is emphasized. Besides, when a provider complies with federally-endorsed privacy policies called HIPAA, then the treatment they provide is secure. Also, to make the support seeker feel safer, some providers do not ask for personal details.

Can an Online Therapist Prescribe Medicines?

Yes. A licensed internet-based psychiatrist can provide a prescription depending on your condition. Nonetheless, they cannot give medicines for controlled substances such as Adderall, Ativan, Concerta, and Klonopin.

Who Should Offer Online Therapy?

Everyone can assist a person over the internet, but you need to be licensed to offer services recognized as therapy. A licensed professional who can deliver psychological support on the internet might need to be a marriage & family therapist, counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist.

Things to Consider When Getting Therapy

You need to know all about you online therapy before commencing treatment. Below are some essential factors to consider before choosing a specific provider of internet-based assistance:
  • Licensing. Is the provider licensed? Can they practice within your state?
  • Costs. Do they charge what you can afford? Does insurance cover the treatment?
  • Security. Make sure that the app or website is HIPAA-compliant.
  • Specialization. Do you need a teen, marital, or anxiety expert?
  • Feedback. Do you want to text, video, or audio feedback? Choose.

How to Get the Most Out of this Form of Treatment

How do you make the most out of your meetings? Check out some tips to help you as you embark on finding e-based psychological support:

Schedule Time

While this kind of treatment is lauded for allowing users to plan meetings at any time, it still helps to create and follow schedules. This way, it becomes easier to eliminate distractions and focus on the session.

Be Ready for Any Format

The good thing about this form of psychological assistance is that support is delivered in various formats. Text, video, and audio are typical modes for accessing this treatment. For the best results, it helps to prep yourself for any option.

Elaborate Your Emotions

Unlike conventional counseling, internet-based therapy keeps psychologists from observing their patients’ body language. In turn, this undermines the success of the treatment. To avoid this, go out of your way to elaborate on how you feel. Give specific names to your emotions and reactions to make it easy for the expert to deliver the best solution.

Offer Feedback

Do not shy from commenting on the process in any way. If you feel like the responses provided are too general, tell the mental health professional about it. The same applies to any other thing to do with the meetings. With more feedback, your expert can devise the most suitable solution.

Communicate What You Want

Before commencing treatment, it helps to create a list of objectives. Ensure that you communicate all of them to your expert, no matter how farfetched they seem. Doing this is critical in ensuring a successful therapy.

Takeaway

Despite the noise around it, online therapy has proven to be just as effective as its conventional counterpart. Besides, it comes with various benefits, including convenience, cheaper costs, greater anonymity, and increased commitment. If you are considering mental health counseling, this is an excellent way to start getting it. Finding the right psychological support is key to ensuring a successful treatment for a healthy life.

Need more information about online therapy? Here on the Dr. Mental website, you can find tons of useful advice to help you find the best online therapy. Access detailed descriptions of therapy services and their benefits.