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As the world of online video, messaging, and chat continues to grow, a vast range of online therapy options has also become available for people to try.
The American Psychological Association say that online therapy, also called teletherapy, can be a good alternative to in-person therapy. However, they note that research has not yet definitively proven that it works as well as in-person therapy in every situation. People may need to try it for themselves and see whether it works for them.
The benefits of online therapy include:
- People may find it easier to share personal or uncomfortable details about themselves online instead of face to face.
- People are not limited to choosing a therapist within driving distance.
- People who have a disability that makes it difficult to leave home can still access therapy.
- It may be cheaper than in-person therapy.
The downsides of online therapy include:
- People who are unfamiliar with technology may struggle to use it.
- Some sites may not be licensed or qualified to treat people.
- Some health insurance companies or plans may not cover online therapy.
- It may not be sufficient for crises, such as situations involving self-harm.
- Talking with someone “through a screen” may not provide the same experience as an in-person therapy experience.
Advances in telehealth services mean that today, there are many different options for online therapy. Below are some of the best choices available.
Please note that the author has not tried these services and that this article is purely research-based.
The Talkspace service allows licensed therapists and mental health counselors to meet with clients virtually. A person can take an assessment and choose the therapy plan that fits their budget. The site then matches them with a therapist.
Talkspace’s site also includes a messaging option with a guaranteed response time frame so that people can contact their therapist anytime. It includes options for adults, teens, and couples.
This e-counseling program provides access to licensed, trained professionals in a variety of areas. They include psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and board licensed professional counselors. The site matches people with a suitable counselor.
People interact with their BetterHelp counselor through live chats, messages, phone calls, and videoconferences. The site states that health insurance does not cover many of its services, but people can check their coverage to find out.
Teen Counseling, which is a sister site to BetterHelp, is specifically geared toward people between the ages of 13 and 19, offering online therapy for mental health challenges that may be unique to teenagers. A teenager can talk with their counselor through messages, live chats, phone calls, and videoconferences.
These providers assure teens of confidentiality, and parents or caregivers do not have access to their virtual counseling room. However, the teen will likely need an adult to oversee their account and handle the payment.
With a focus on relationships and marital issues, ReGain offer both individual and couples counseling. ReGain say that their team of professionals comprises licensed, trained psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and professional counselors.
Two users can share a joint account to talk with their counselor together. Private live sessions are also available.
With more than 100 physical locations in the U.S., this organization also offer online counseling with licensed counselors. The options include individual and couples counseling via either video or phone.
In addition to offering online therapy with licensed therapists, this site provides the option of free chat with volunteer listeners. There are also chat rooms and forums where people can discuss specific issues, such as anxiety and relationships.
The site also offers self-help and growth paths that allow people to explore and identify ways to help them feel better. 7 Cups provide therapy for adults and teens.
AmWell do not focus exclusively on online therapy, but they offer a variety of telehealth services. People can connect with board certified doctors for a variety of health concerns, including mental health. Psychiatry and therapy are two of the services that AmWell offer.
As many insurance companies cover telehealth, people may not have to cover all or any of the costs. After enrolling, a person can enter their insurance information to check. Then, they choose a doctor and set up a telehealth visit.
This site focuses on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and uses an online therapy toolbox. People have contact with a personal therapist and access to a self-help course that helps them find tools and tips for dealing with their individual issues. It also includes yoga and meditation videos.
Live chat sessions and therapist messaging options come with some of the subscriptions, but lower cost plans do not have this feature. A free option allows people to access the worksheets, yoga, and meditation at no cost.
Bliss is a computer-based program that does not include live interaction with a therapist. Instead, it is a free online program based on CBT. Self-guided online CBT is effective for treating depression,
The Bliss program allows users to monitor and manage their mood and to practice techniques to improve their mental health. People can complete the program at their own pace with no commitment.
Some people may prefer to use a mental health professional near their home, even if they never go there in person. Or, they may be interested in a psychiatrist’s or therapist’s office that is not close by — in which case, online therapy may allow them to become a client there.
More and more therapy practices are offering online or teletherapy options, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. If a person is interested in using a specific therapist, they may wish to visit the practice’s website or call them to ask about their teletherapy options.
Online therapy may be an effective option for people who are unable or would prefer not to meet with a provider in person.
There are many ways to access online therapy, from specialized therapy sites to using a telehealth option with a current provider.
Before using any online therapy, it is important to clarify the costs and required level of commitment.
Anyone who is concerned that they may pose a danger to themselves or others should not use online therapy. Instead, they should call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.