What to look for when considering online therapy

If you’re like many people, you’re probably considering the merits of therapy, which now seems as common as taking selfies. First off, kudos to you for thinking through this crucial step! Everyone can use a little help, a little support, a little «Did I just send this to my boss instead of my best friend?» outburst.


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Online therapy is the tech-savvy cousin of the traditional couch-and-laptop version you’ve seen in movies and TV shows. You may be wondering, what makes online therapy worth exploring? And most importantly, what should you look for when considering online therapy?


Understanding online therapy

Imagine going to therapy. Now, she erases thoughts of traffic, waiting rooms, and awkwardly avoiding eye contact with others in the lobby. This is what online therapy offers. As people around the world found they could explore their innermost thoughts with trained professionals, all without leaving their favorite relaxation spots, online therapy soared in popularity.

Websites like BetterHelp, Talkspace, and Brightside have gained considerable attention, serving as digital bridges between those in need of mental health boosting and those equipped to provide it.

With online therapy, you can have video calls that feel close to face-to-face interaction. If you’re not a fan of video calling, some platforms also offer text chat for those of us who express ourselves best with the written word. Are you more of an old school type? Phone sessions are also available.

Note that there are also apps you can download to see a therapist.

Online therapy qualifications and specializations

Yes, your beloved pet may be a great listener, but when looking for a therapist, you’ll want to aim for something more in the qualification department.

For example, BetterHelp makes no secret of its standards. They ensure that every therapist on their platform is a licensed, trained, experienced and accredited Psychologist (Ph.D./PsyD), Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), or Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). There is no room for maneuver for imposters.

Talkspace is toeing with BetterHelp on this matter. Each therapist is a fully licensed professional with training in their field. As licensed practitioners, they have all been qualified and certified by their respective professional council after completing the necessary education, exams, training and practice.

At Brightside, they have one specific focus: the treatment of depression and anxiety. Their therapists are specialists in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), the worldwide gold standard of mental health treatment in the mental health world.

So with Brightside, you’re not just getting a licensed therapist; you are getting a CBT expert. If you’re looking for other options, there are plenty of websites to talk about your mental health.

Privacy and confidentiality of online therapy

When divulging personal aspects of your life in therapy, you want assurance that your conversations are kept private. The good news is that online therapy platforms take your privacy and confidentiality very seriously.

Most, if not all, online therapy services use secure, encrypted technology to keep your sessions private. This means that your personal information and therapy content is encrypted and accessible only to you and your therapist. This level of security is similar to that used by online banking or shopping sites.

Additionally, these platforms are required to comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) standards. HIPAA is a federal law that establishes a national standard for protecting sensitive patient health information.

That said, confidentiality can be breached in circumstances where the therapist believes there is harm to you or another person. Each counselor or therapist should review these conditions with you at the start of your first session.

Cost and insurance coverage of online therapy

Now let’s talk about dollars and cents. After all, while you might wish therapists could get paid out of gratitude and good vibes, the reality is a little different. Some platforms offer different financial models. Some have membership models that give you unlimited access to your therapist, while others charge per session.

On some platforms, you can choose to pay weekly, monthly, or even annually (kind of like your Netflix subscription, but with a much better return on your emotional investment). For example, Talkspace offers three pricing tiers:

  • Messaging Therapy including daily responses from a therapist for $69 a week
  • Video Therapy + Messaging for $99 a week
  • Videos + Messages + Workshops for $109/week

screenshot of talkspace costs

One question many people will have: Will your insurance cover online therapy? Well, it depends. Some insurers cover online therapy, while others don’t. The best course of action is to check directly with your provider.

In essence, online therapy is an investment in you. Like buying that fancy, extra strong blender for your morning smoothies, it’s about putting your well-being first. Remember, there is no better investment than that.

And if coaching is more your thing, be sure to look into some of the best platforms to find one that works for you.

The user experience for online therapy

A good online therapy platform should be as easy to use as your favorite social media app. For this reason, the user interface is crucial. If a platform is cluttered or confusing, it will be frustrating and time consuming. A good platform, on the other hand, should walk you through the process.

Thankfully, BetterHelp, Talkspace, and Brightside all have user-friendly interfaces and strive to make their services as accessible and simple as possible. Each offers easy navigation, a simple signup process, and clear guidance on how to use the platform. However, before making a final choice, it would be a good idea to look into user reviews for each platform on sites like Reddit.

But ease of use doesn’t stop at the interface. The entire experience, from signing up to scheduling sessions, should be smooth and painless. You want to spend your time focusing on your therapy sessions, not figuring out how to navigate the platform. So if you don’t like one platform, try another.

Choosing an online therapy platform that works best for you

Navigating the world of online therapy can feel a little overwhelming, but it’s an important decision you’re making. By researching the right information, including the importance of verifying qualifications, costs and user experience, you are well equipped to start your journey.

Remember, the goal of online therapy is the same as traditional therapy: to provide you with the support you need to deal with life’s challenges. Whether you’re battling anxiety, depression, stress, or any other mental health issue, these platforms are there to help you get stronger, one session at a time.

#online #therapy
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