Online Therapy Free | Is It Possible to Get Free Therapy That’s Effective?
According to the WHO, more than 265 million people worldwide suffer from depression, which is the main form of mental health illness. Suicide is among the three leading causes of death worldwide for youth between 15 -29 years old. With an ongoing pandemic that has hung a depressive cloud around the world, these figures are expected to get higher. It is, therefore, doubtless that a huge percentage of the population requires therapy and counseling.
Yet only a small number of people can afford to pay for such services, either through insurance and co-pay deductions or straight out of pocket. The alternative for such folks is to seek out free online counseling services. In this article, we’ll take a look at the various options that exist for people seeking free or affordable online therapy and how they work.
Is There Any Free Online Therapy? Affordable Is More Like It
Online therapy mostly involves psychotherapy, which, in turn, involves talking to a licensed therapist remotely. That can be through direct communication over the phone, text chats, email, video conferencing, or a combination of all these methods. For someone battling stress-anxiety, anger management issues, or post-natal depression, the ability to connect quickly with a counselor is crucial. If this person can’t afford to pay the averagely $100 cost per session that may be required in traditional in-person therapy, online counseling is the next best option. However, the $45-$50 weekly that may be required in online therapy is still beyond the reach of many people.
“Is there any free online therapy?” That would be the question that anyone in such a predicament would ask themselves. There are free counseling services online with general professionals that have been trained to offer advice to people. These include community health agencies and crisis response ministries that cater to the lowest end of the community spectrum. A teen crisis hotline agency or a suicide prevention and help website would be perfect examples of these.
Such services may provide completely free guidance and counseling services at completely no cost. They may also have separate tiers of therapy for clients who can afford it, although these are usually at a much-reduced rate. However, most of these free services face several bottlenecks that include:
- Lack of proper training for the counseling staff and a low level of expertise;
- Longer waiting periods due to community waiting lists;
- Less choice and variety of counseling staff; one has to settle for the therapist that has been assigned to them;
- A high risk of starting over with another therapist due to high employee turnover at such community agencies;
- They are mostly targeted at specific groups in the community, for example, teens, addicts, single mothers, etc.
So, yes, there are free online counseling services, but these are mostly community-based and may not pack the variety and flexibility that you need. Most counselors, therapists, and social workers begin their careers at these agencies, either as student trainees or as part of their mandatory clinical practice. At this level, they may not have enough expertise to handle the most complex mental health cases.
In many of these community counseling agencies, the therapists may not be licensed, and they may not even be mental health professionals but rather trained volunteers. That leaves a huge gap when it comes to patients who need specialized care and therapy. Keep in mind that such professionals need to also earn a living from what they practice. Therefore, getting a completely free psychotherapy website or company is nearly impossible.
Try Free Mental Health Phone Apps
Another form of online therapy free is mental health apps, specifically free apps on the iOS App Store and Google Play. Most of these apps offer both free and paid subscriptions; therefore, they are the most widely available form of affordable mental healthcare. Most of these apps are grounded in psychotherapy techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT). However, they are far from a replacement for traditional in-person therapy or remote peer-to-peer therapy and are not meant to do so.
Here are some of the top free apps that you’ll find for this purpose.
- What’s Up for iOS and Android
This app does a good job of employing known industry psychotherapy tools. It utilizes CBT and ACT techniques to enable users to understand their situations and cope with their problems effectively. The app provides professional information on anxiety, stress, self-esteem, anger, depression, etc. It allows the user to keep a personal diary of their habits and other important notes, which can even be shared later with a real therapist.
- Mindshift for iOS and Android
Mindshift is an app that is specifically geared towards teens and young adults. The app has tons of information on anxiety and provides different “test” situations in which the user may be required to find solutions. The user can journal their thoughts and feelings and track their anxiety levels. “Chill out” and “active steps” are two categories that are provided to help users deal with their anxiety through meditation.
- Happify for iOS and Android
Happify is an app that lets users take control of their happiness through mood training programs, activities, games, and meditation activities that aim to sync one’s thoughts and actions. Happify offers Tracks, which, in a nutshell, are the core activities in one’s life, from family and kids, relationships, finances, and work, etc. These tracks, which relate to the user’s moods, contain numerous information and activities created by therapists and experts that can be monitored.
- Youper for iOS and Android
The Youper app has been designed by a team of engineers, doctors, and therapists, and is based on a cognitive AI system. This app also relies heavily on CBT and is useful where there is a need to track and monitor mood and anxiety changes. The user can also record any negative or positive shifts when they occur. They can then report these to a psychotherapist. The app asks the user, “How are you?” every day, which serves as great motivation for users to be conscious of their condition.
Best Free Online Therapy | 5 FAQs to Help Guide Your Decision
We’ve already mentioned that while free online therapy services do exist, they are few and far in between. Furthermore, most purely free counseling services are community-based organizations, which, while helpful, have many demerits. A more realistic approach would be to seek out affordable services that are more tailored to your budget.
Here are 5 frequently asked questions that should guide you when searching for the best free online therapy platforms.
What Is Free Online Therapy?
Online therapy is a remote form of therapy, in which the patient and the counseling professional don’t physically meet, but can communicate in real-time. Technology has facilitated online therapy through texting, calling, video-conferencing, emailing, or a combination of all these. Patients choose whatever method works best for them and their situation.
Online therapy isn’t designed to replace offline or in-person therapy, but a combination of both works particularly well, depending on the person’s situation. For example, in some cases, severe PTSD or couples and sex therapy, in-person therapy might be necessitated. The main benefits of online therapy include increased awareness and access to therapy tools, and the increased affordability.
Purely free online therapy platforms only exist where these are sponsored within particular niches of the community. For example, you could find a free online therapist on suicide and teen crisis pregnancy websites and hotlines. The disadvantages of these have already been raised.
How Do I Find a Free Online Therapist?
A therapist is a licensed professional whose job is to help patients deal with their mental health problems. While it is possible that you may find a free online therapist, the chances of this are quite slim. Depending on the exact situation you are dealing with, you can do a quick search of free online therapists.
The higher likelihood, however, is to find online therapists who aren’t free but are instead affordable. Think about the cost savings in terms of convenience, transportation (in case you live in a remote area), and the reduced therapy costs.
Where Can I Get a Free Therapist?
Just do a google search for free therapists, especially those offered in federal, state, and non-profit sponsored programs. However, a more realistic approach would be to find something that works for your budget.
Is Online Free Counseling Effective?
Any service that is completely free of charge would not be without its disadvantages. In the case of online therapy, you might not have enough time with your counselor. Or they may not be qualified or experienced enough to give a proper diagnosis and treatment of your condition.
Is Online Counseling Really Free?
It may or may not be, depending on the provider. Community-based counseling programs that offer online therapy might be completely free, but they have their disadvantages. Online therapy platforms such as Betterhelp are not free, but they are affordable and can be tailored for different budgets.
Free Online Counseling Services | Why You Should Choose Affordable Online Therapy
Even if you find a community-based mental health program that lets you talk to a therapist online free, it probably won’t have what you are looking for. An online therapy platform, such as Talkspace, fills that gap by connecting you with the right therapist at exactly the right time, for the right price. A comprehensive online sign-up process that involves filling out information about yourself and your condition is required, and this takes less than two minutes.
Once this information is stored in the therapy database, a real assessment is done through AI tools before being followed with further evaluation by a licensed psychologist. Completing the sign-up process includes choosing your preferred therapy method and subscription plan. Weekly plans are as low as $45, while longer-term billing, say biannually, is much cheaper. Your evaluation is then sent to a professional therapist specialized in your problem area.
This kind of therapy is quite affordable, even for low-tier earners, and provides wider access to folks who cannot visit brick-and-mortar practices for various reasons. Learn more about psychology today and different therapy resources that you can use as a patient or as a practitioner on DrMental. We provide a huge library of information on the different kinds of mental health issues and various treatment options.