Getting mental health support from a professional can make a huge difference in a person’s life. Alternatives to in-person therapy sessions have become increasingly popular, and they have bridged a gap in accessibility in a big way.
Though mental health information and advice have been available on the web for an even greater period of time, private online therapy sessions first emerged in the 1990s. Ever since, they have continued to gain popularity.
How Is Technology Changing Access To Therapy?
To start, online therapy cuts the commute time out of your day. Instead of having to make it out to a therapist’s office, you can connect with your therapist anywhere with a secure and reliable internet connection. However, that’s just the beginning. One of the biggest benefits of seeing a counselor or therapist online is that your options are increased tremendously, making getting support that’s catered to you and your unique situation far easier and more accessible. Your options are increased because, with online counseling or therapy, you can see anyone licensed in your state. Where you’d typically be restricted to providers in your immediate area, the ability to see anyone licensed in your state means that, if you’re looking for someone who specializes in a particular demographic, concern, or modality, your chances of finding it are significantly enhanced. Whether you have a busy schedule that prevents you from having the time to go to counseling, struggle to make it out to appointments, or can’t find what you’re looking for near you, online mental health services are a game-changer.
As far as accessibility goes in other areas, many online therapy websites (AKA, websites that work on a subscription basis vs. therapists and counselors with private practice businesses who offer remote sessions) have pages on their website regarding how to use screen readers and other accessibility functions when on their website or platform. To further enhance your chances of finding a great fit, most online therapy or counseling websites will have you start the sign-up process by moving through a questionnaire that’ll help you find the right provider.
More Benefits of Online Therapy Or Counseling
Increased accessibility isn’t the only advantage of getting counseling or therapy online. Here are some additional benefits to consider if you are contemplating online therapy or counseling:
- You can get started quickly. Instead of being on a waiting list for months or more, you can typically start seeing a therapist or counselor using an online therapy or counseling website within about 48 hours.
- There are more ways to contact your therapist. This is not just true in the sense that you can use video chat instead of having sessions face to face. Many online counseling and therapy websites also offer an option to contact your therapist outside of sessions so that you can update them at any time, and during sessions, there are live chat options and phone options as well as video. This means that you can choose whatever is most comfortable for you.
- It’ll probably save you money. Counseling and therapy can be expensive, and where seeing a traditional in-person counselor can cost up to $200 or more per session without insurance, online therapy typically starts at around $90 per week.
When To Go To Counseling Or Therapy
First, you might be wondering what the difference is between counseling and therapy. In action, there’s not necessarily a profound difference in many cases. Typically, therapy is more long-term, and the most notable distinction between therapy and counseling tends to be whether you see a counselor or if you see a therapist. Both providers are qualified to provide talk therapy. With that said, when it comes to determining if you should seek the support of a provider such as a counselor or therapist, you can do so at any time. People seek therapy or counseling for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to mental health concerns, general life stressors, sleep disturbance, relationships, premarital support, familial issues, and so much more. Anyone can benefit from therapy, and you do not need to reach a breaking point to reach out for help. Note that you can switch providers or stop counseling at any time, so there is truly nothing to lose. If you need mental health support, want to develop coping skills or work through a concern you have, or if you’re simply looking for someone to talk to, it’s an excellent option.
So, How Does It Hold Up?
Now that you know more about the advantages of online therapy or counseling, you are likely wondering how effective it is in comparison to traditional in-person counseling. If that’s the case, there’s good news. Studies show that online counseling is just as effective as traditional in-person therapy. In some cases, it’s even more effective. To ensure that you’re signing up for quality care, make sure that you use an online therapy or counseling website with licensed providers. One example of this is MyTherapist. It’s important to note that, although online counseling and therapy have taken on an increasingly crucial role in mental health care, it is not appropriate for all circumstances, such as those where a person requires emergency services. If you are experiencing a crisis and are in need of immediate support, reach out to a free hotline such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit your nearest emergency room. If you believe that online counseling or therapy might be a good fit for you, don’t hesitate to get started. It can be a life-changing experience, and the research is there to back it up!