Thinking about counseling for yourself or for your marriage? You are not alone.
When you have clinical depression or anxiety, or the stresses of everyday life are having a negative impact on yourself or your relationship, many people seek the support and guidance of a counselor or psychotherapist.
But what if the thought of going to a therapist’s office just adds to your stress?
Traffic, tight schedules, caregiving needs, and affordability are common barriers that prevent people from getting the help they need from a mental health professional.
Online therapy, also called Tele-mental health or E-counseling, is an increasingly popular method of delivering mental health services live through the internet. An ever-growing number of therapists are choosing to offer online therapy rather than (or in addition to) in-person therapy.
Online therapy is conducted via video chat, where you and your therapist speak in real-time, through a secure video conferencing platform on your computer or phone.
Depending on their training, online therapists can treat both individuals and couples.
Many online couples therapists can also see a couple who are in 2 different locations. So, even if one of you is at work or out of town, you don’t have to miss a session!
There are many benefits of online therapy, including convenience (you can log into a session from your home or office), accessibility (you are not bound by the therapist’s location, so you have more freedom of choice), and effectiveness.
Research has consistently demonstrated that online therapy is just as effective as in-person therapy. According to this study, “tele-mental health is equally effective as traditional face-to-face treatments in symptom reduction and patient satisfaction.”
As more and more therapists are offering online therapy, you as the consumer have many options.
When searching for any therapist, the important questions to ask before paying for online therapy are, requesting for the therapist’s license and what method(s) of therapy they practice.
However, online therapy brings additional, important considerations and questions to ask before signing up for online counseling, such as:
1. Have you been trained in online therapy?
The rules for online therapy vary depending on what state you are in and what type of license your therapist has.
Although, at this time, there is no official national certification needed to practice online therapy, there are many great pieces of training available for therapists who want to offer this service.
What you need to know before choosing online therapy is that your online therapist is proficient in both telemental health and digital ethics, at a minimum.
It assures you that they know how to practice online, both safely and effectively.
2. Do you take insurance?
Many insurance companies now cover online therapy.
It varies state to state and by insurance, but if paying out-of-pocket is not an option for you, ask the therapist if he or she accepts your insurance. If they do, verify with your insurance company if you are covered for online sessions.
3. How is my information protected?
Your health information should be protected whether you are meeting in-person or online, and fortunately, encrypted technology is now widely available for online therapists to use.
Be sure to ask what type of platform the therapist is using both for the video sessions and for storing your records.
Also, confirm if or when your information will be shared.
4. What do you do in a crisis situation?
Therapists who have been properly trained in online therapy should know how to handle a crisis situation and be prepared for them.
This could mean, for example, being on-call, having a crisis plan, or contacting your listed emergency contacts.
Ask your online therapist what he or she does in a crisis situation to keep their online patients safe.
Also, it is important to note that while online therapy works great for most people, there are certain situations where in-person counseling is a better fit.
How to conduct a first counseling session?
During an initial consultation with an online therapist, they should assess whether or not online therapy is right for you, and if it isn’t, point you in the right direction of where to look so you can get the support you want.
Online therapy, with its convenience and effectiveness, maybe just what you or your relationship needs. So don’t hesitate to get online and go for it!