Just a decade ago, most people would have instantly dismissed the thought of chatting to a therapist via a video call, instant messaging, audio messaging, or email. But over the past few years, online therapy, also known as e-therapy or teletherapy, has seen a rapid rise. Sometimes, finding a professional therapist and going for appointments a couple of times a month can add more stress—especially if you’ve to get time off work, travel far to your therapist’s office, or need childcare while you’re at a session.
Online therapy may be an excellent option for ongoing treatment. It allows you to access online mental health appointments by securely connecting you to your therapist via synchronous video and audio calls from anywhere, anytime.
Before you start looking for an available therapist, here are a few basic things you should know about online therapy:
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What Exactly is Online Therapy?
Online therapy involves accessing mental health services and support through a screen. It can be a computer, tablet, or phone, as long as the platform you’re using is private and secure.
It can occur in real-time, such as text messages, video conferencing and online chat, or in time-delayed formats, such as through emails. Though it eliminates face-to-face conversations, research shows that it can still be a very effective service. So, what are some of the benefits of online therapy?
- Comfort– You don’t have to force yourself off the couch or rush into the therapist’s clinic after work when dealing with a depressive episode. From wearing what you want to choosing a location that works best for you, talking to a therapist online is much more comfortable.
- Consistency– Have a work trip coming up and feeling worried about spending a week without any support? Online therapy is incredible as it can help you stay consistent in your progress, even when you’re not in the same location as your therapist.
- Accessibility– If you live in remote areas or have limited mobility or access to transportation, online therapy gives you quick and easy access to mental health treatment that might not have been available otherwise.
- Flexibility– Online therapists are incredibly flexible. You don’t have to drive out to their offices. You also don’t have to feel like you need to get dressed up to be out in public. Working with a therapist online puts so much more control and flexibility into your hands, and can tremendously help your healing progress.
Is It Expensive?
If you’re looking for affordable ongoing care, opting for e-therapy is an excellent option. So, how much does online therapy cost? Online therapists often charge less than their office-based counterparts. Prices vary, but the average cost is between $65 to $100 a week.
How Will My First Appointment Go?
No matter how tech-savvy you are or what platform your therapist is using, online therapy is still going to feel strange from office-based sessions. If it’s your first time, you may not know how to share your feelings with a stranger over a video call.
You might also feel awkward, uncomfortable, shy, or even not want to talk about yourself. But with time, you’ll likely feel at ease. Use your first appointment to establish what you want to achieve.
Also, before your first online session, check tech requirements. Some therapists use Facetime, Zoom, or Skype, so ask what you’ll need ahead of time and get your webcam and microphone ready. From there, your therapist will guide you through the process.
How Can I Get the Most Out of It?
While teletherapy can be a big adjustment, it can be a great support system, especially during crises. Here are a few tips to help you make the most out of online therapy.
- Take Notes– Before your appointment, make a list of what you want to discuss. That way, you’ll be able to use your time with the therapist effectively.
- Find a Verified and Recommended Therapist– It’s in your best interest to choose a highly-qualified provider. For example, look for a licensed professional counselor (LPC), psychologist, licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), psychiatric nurse, or other licensed professional with mental health training. Also, be sure to check their online reviews before scheduling an appointment.
- Create a Comfy Space for Your Sessions– Create a soothing and comfortable environment for your session. For instance, you can settle into a comfy couch with a fluffy blanket draped over your lap.
- Limit Distractions– Therapy is work, and it needs to be free of distractions. Emails, phone notifications, and children’s barging won’t let you get the most out of it. Before a session starts, choose a private spot where you can be alone to speak your mind in peace.
Getting the Care You Need
Online therapy can be a powerful tool that’s convenient for your mental health. Don’t be afraid to try something different or delay in finding the help and support you need. Speak out what you need and expect and be willing to meet your therapist halfway.