With the rise of COVID-19 in 2020, we have seen an explosion of online therapy sites. But, this was a trend that began well before the novel coronavirus hit. Online therapy is also known as e-therapy, e-counseling, or cyber-counseling. It has benefits and disadvantages, and in the world of COVID-19, its advantages have increased significantly. Now, you can attempt therapy sessions from the comfort and safety of your own home.
But, what is online therapy? Is it right for you? In the rest of this article, you will learn all about online therapy, the best online therapy sites, and what online therapy can do for your mental health.
What is online therapy?
First of all, let’s define what online therapy sites are, and what they offer. Online therapy sites are typically a secure online platform which provides online therapy sessions with licensed counselors/therapists outside of a regular office, via video/chat/phone call. Although the therapy is often facilitated through a website, your communication with the counselor is not only online. You may receive therapy through email, texting, video conferencing, IM’ing, or through a phone.
The many forms of communication are one of the benefits of the service. You can choose the types of communication that work best for you and your therapist. There is even the option to communicate in different ways with your therapist. For example, at BetterHelp.com, you can exchange messages, chat live, speak on the phone, or video conference with your counselor. Some of these options, such as speaking on the phone or video conferencing require an appointment. Exchanging messages does not require an appointment, which gives you frequent support from your counselor.
What are the online therapy sites?
Online therapy actually traces its routes back to well before there was an internet. For decades patients exchanged letters with their therapists. This practice actually started with Sigmund Freud. Obviously, we would not consider letter writing a type of online therapy, but it was a beginning.
Since the internet boom of the late-1990s, online therapy has grown in popularity. Today several websites provide online therapy services. The rise of smartphones, better internet connections, and more sophisticated technology has only fueled online therapy’s rise.
If you are looking for good online therapy, check out the following sites.
BetterHelp is an online therapy platform that matches patients with a counselor. It is a subscription service that aims to make therapy available for everyone. With BetterHelp, you only pay for the weeks that you are linked with a counselor. All of the counselors are fully licensed and certified. You can trust that you are getting the best mental help possible when you use BetterHelp.
TalkSpace allows you to pick your therapist after a brief assessment. If you don’t love your first pick therapist, you can choose another at no extra cost. You have 24/7 access to this service. The therapists offer video, phone, and text sessions. All of the therapists with TalkSpace are fully licensed.
A final online therapy provider to check out is Online-Therapy.com. This platform uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). They also offer yoga and mediation for their patients. You can choose between messaging and live-chat sessions with their fully licensed mental health professionals. Online-Therapy.com is easy to access with a smartphone, so it is one of the most convenient online therapy providers around.
How to transition to online therapy
Whether you’ve never been to counseling before, or are transitioning to online from a physical practice, online therapy may be right for you. You just need to ensure that you transition to online therapy effectively.
The first, and most important, step to the transition is preparing all of your equipment. You will need high-speed internet access, some internet-enabled devices, earphones or headphones, a camera, and keep your smartphone on-hand as well.
Once you have your equipment ready, it is time to pick a platform and a therapist. Make sure to fill out any questionnaires honestly. They will help you find the perfect counselor and ensure you get the help you deserve.
One the day of your first session, make sure to be in a quiet, private space. We know how crowded houses can be right now. Just do your best to find a secluded location, even the outdoors may work. Privacy is important because it ensures that you can speak as openly and honestly as possible, without worrying about others listening in or judging.
Is online therapy effective?
Research has shown that online therapy is extremely effective. Depending on the condition, online therapy may actually be as effective as in-person therapy. In fact, a 2016 study even indicated that for certain situations patients had better outcomes with online therapy. Most of the research studied online therapy using CBT methods. Yet, a variety of therapy techniques, including support groups, may be effective as well.
There are a few situations where online therapy is not recommended, however. Seek emergency help if you or a loved one
- Have thoughts of self-harm or harming others.
- Are in another type of emergency.
The following people should stick with in-person therapy.
- Those in the care of a legal guardian
- People with a severe mental illness.
- People are recommended for psychological supervision and/or psychiatric care.
- Those with a court-order for therapy or counseling.
- People without internet access. ‘
If you do not fit into any of the above categories, then online therapy may be the right option for you. Don’t let this isolating time cause a decrease in your mental health. Start online therapy today and enjoy the peace of mind that professional help can provide.