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What is Online Therapy?
Online therapy or online counseling is a psychological treatment for the modern age. And it is generally very effective in the vast majority of cases.
The good news is that online therapy is also usually a little cheaper than personal care.
As long as you carefully consider the provider, online therapy may be the perfect answer to your needs.
Online therapy has proven to be very effective. Mary Ann Dunton, Professor and Vice Chair of Research at the Department of Psychology at Georgetown University, said, "There are a number of studies looking at telemedicine for different types of disorders, and they are usually amazingly effective."
Reasons to See an Online Therapist
According to the 2018 National Drug Use and Health Survey, 43.3% of adults with mental illness were treated in 2018.
This means 56% of people weren't getting the health they needed.
You can see an online therapy advisor for almost any reason you might see a personal advisor. There are some use cases that best translate to online care – while more severe cases of bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other cases may work better with personal care.
Common reasons for using online therapy are:
- Marriage counseling
- Family therapy
- Borderline disorder
- eating disorder
- Panic disorder
- Substance abuse
- Social phobia
Most credible providers offer HIPAA compliant chat / video, 24-hour access, and same-day appointments.
If you're already on a psychiatric drug, you can get refills online. However, you must book through a provider that offers mental health services.
How does online therapy work?
Online therapy is easy. In most cases, it just takes a simple login, a video connection, and an hour of your time.
The steps are:
- Sign up with the provider of your choice and select the type of therapy you would like to receive. With most therapy providers, you can choose between individual therapy, counseling for couples and youth therapy. Read our article for more information on online couples therapy.
- Then you answer a short questionnaire about your health and well-being. Questions include age, gender, relationship status, therapy experience, and even financial status. BetterHelp actually offers cost help to lower-income patients.
- Then choose a therapist. The therapists each have topics that they specialize in. So be sure to choose someone who is best suited to your needs. BetterHelp recommends therapists and you make the final choice. You can read the therapists' biographies and specialties.
- Sign up for a plan and see your therapist. Some online therapy options offer video nursing, while others offer text-based therapy or a combination of both. Video sessions are standard.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Therapist
- How does the site structure its prices?
- How do you want to communicate with your advisor?
- Does the therapist have relevant experiences for your situation?
- Can you easily switch therapists?
- Can you simply cancel your therapy subscription?
Is Online Therapy Effective?
Therapy can be invaluable in treating a wide variety of mental illnesses, and some forms of therapy may be more effective than others on online platforms.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of them. A 2018 study drew conclusions from 64 studies to get a strong result.
This meta-analysis concluded that online therapy for the treatment of anxiety and depressive disorders is an effective, acceptable, and convenient health care facility.
Another 14 randomized controlled trials were published between 2005 and 2015 that used CBT via online therapy to treat adults with depression. In fact, the researchers conclude that online CBT is effective in reducing depressive symptoms and is a good treatment option for those who do not have access to traditional personal therapy.
One group that can greatly benefit from online therapy is people with eating disorders. Several studies published in the Archives of General Psychiatry and Science Direct show that there were similar improvements in patients with eating disorders who received personal therapy and teletherapy. "These results underscore the potential applicability of telemedicine approaches to the treatment of eating disorders and to psychiatric treatment in general."
When it comes to treating depression, teletherapy can be very helpful.
A study in 2016 found that:
"The researchers concluded that there was" no evidence that providing psychotherapy through synchronous telemedicine modalities was less effective than non-telemedicine means in reducing symptoms of depression. "
Metanoia.org says this: “Some cite real challenges. The therapist cannot see you and therefore cannot interpret facial features, tone of voice and body language. The therapist has no clue as to what you are not saying or how you feel about what you are saying. This is a real problem and it goes both ways. There is a lot that you do not know about the therapist and a lot that the therapist does not know about you. "
Despite all the concerns, most studies have found that online therapy is extremely effective. One of the largest studies of telemental health concluded that it was just as effective as providing personal attention and improving access. It is important to choose a provider with certified therapists and a strong delivery method (video) to ensure you are receiving the best possible care.
The main options in online therapy
|Therapy service||Weekly rate||Therapy suitable for||Communication through||Total therapist|
|BetterHelp||$ 40- $ 70||Individuals||Live chat, phone, news and video||7,000|
|Regain||$ 40- $ 70||Couples||Live chat, news and video||1,500|
|Talkspace||$ 49||Individuals, couples, young people (13-18 years)||Messages (text, audio)||5,000|
BetterHelp has become a trendsetter by employing 100% licensed therapists and an elegant mobile app. It was one of the first online therapy services and now employs 3,500 remote therapists.
BetterHelp is a HIPAA compliant service and starts at over $ 40 per week and includes messaging, live chat, phone calls, or online video counseling. BetterHelp receives the best e-counseling ratings of any provider.
Learn more about BetterHelp with our full review here.
ReGain is mostly a couples therapy service. While they offer personal therapy, it's clear that they specialize in couples. Two people in a relationship share a common account on which they can communicate with the advisor.
When you sign up, you will be taken through an onboarding questionnaire where you will receive questions about your condition. All ReGain therapists are accredited psychologists (PhD / PsyD), licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT), licensed clinical social workers (LCSW) or licensed professional counselors (LPC or LPCC).
ReGain costs $ 40- $ 70 per week.
Learn more about ReGain with our full review here.
Talkspace is an extremely progressive company They entered the tech scene by raising $ 31 million in venture capital in 2017. They take a fairly nontraditional approach in that they only offer text-based therapy.
Your Talkspace room will remain open 24/7, but you can send a message to a therapist from any device anytime, anywhere. The therapists respond daily, 5 days a week.
Platforms are HIPAA compliant and require passwords. Your iOS app can support both Touch ID and Face ID on activated devices. Talkspace only works on the phone, you cannot use a desktop computer
Plans start at $ 49 / week. However, it is important to note that not all experiences with text therapy are positive and that text therapy is not a substitute for personal clinics.
Read more about Talkspace here with our full review.
Is Online Therapy the Right Choice for You?
There are many reasons why online therapy can be a great option. But of course therapy is a very personal matter, and finding the right provider makes all the difference. If you feel that you need add-on therapy to your personal provider and / or a more convenient solution, online therapy may be for you.
Consumers like an online therapy solution for several reasons. Some include:
It is not always so convenient to make a personal appointment. The distance to the office, the lack of transportation, and a host of other reasons make it difficult to be seen in person. With e-therapy you can keep your appointments in your preferred time frame every time.
Some people feel that internet-enabled therapy provides greater confidentiality. Online therapy offers more anonymity. You will never run into anyone on your way there or in your therapist's office. In addition, some people feel more comfortable and open at home. Plus additional benefits for customers who have fewer “triggers” when they stay at home.
Every single therapist on every online therapy platform is a licensed, verified and experienced professional. With thousands of therapist options, there is a good chance you will find someone who not only specializes in what you need, but who is a good fit for you.
Even with insurance, traditional therapy can be very expensive, sometimes hundreds of dollars for an appointment. Most online services offer between $ 40 and $ 80 per week, which is considerably cheaper.
When is online therapy not a good option?
In some situations, online therapy is not the best option. If any of the following apply, get help:
- You in an emergency (dial 911 now)
- You currently feel suicidal
- You are a minor under the age of 18
- You don't have a reliable internet connection
- A court has asked you to seek advice
Click here for a full list of resources for instant help.
19.1% of adults in the United States had mental illness in 2018 (47.6 million people). This corresponds to 1 in 5 adults.
Online therapy can be cheaper than face-to-face care and can be just as effective. So, if you are among the millions of Americans who seek treatment each year, online care might be right for you.
Remember that there are times when online therapy is not advisable. Therefore, it is important that you make your own considerations and use your intuition when choosing a provider.
If you want to compare your options in more detail, check out our BetterHelp vs Talkspace article.
Have you had any experience with an online therapy provider? We'd love to hear more about it in the comments!