More than Americans suffer from mental distress such as anxiety or depression. Yet it can be difficult for those that need help to seek it out. They may unable to travel to a psychiatrist’s office, unable to take time off of work during office hours, or afraid of what others may think . By providing their services online, psychiatrists make it easier for patients to get the mental health services they need. Online Psychiatry allows patients to access psychiatrists from home or anywhere else they have access to the Internet at a time that is convenient for the patient. An Online psychiatrist can effectively evaluate a patient over a secure video call and prescribe medication that is best suited for the patient. When treating mental illnesses like depression or anxiety, medication is often more effective when combined with therapy, which can also be done online. Online psychiatrists are helping more and more people get the care they need from the comfort of their own home.
Traditional Psychiatrist Vs. Online Psychiatrist
Here at ThriveTalk, we have a team of online psychiatrists that you can book an appointment with. Whether you use our service or not, this article will help you decide whether seeing an online psychiatrist is the right fit for you, and provide you the information you need every step of the way.
It’s important to remember that online psychiatry may not be suitable for everyone. While the convenience factor is undeniable, in-person therapy is likely a better solution for someone experiencing severe mental health issues including anyone who is having suicidal thoughts. Ultimately, it’s a personal choice whether you seek treatment online or in office. What’s important is getting help if you need it!
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have extensive, specialized knowledge about mental health. They are licensed practitioners who diagnose and treat mental and behavioral disorders. Many psychiatrists also choose to become “board certified” by taking an exam offered by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.
People who have mental health issues that they are concerned about are often referred to a psychiatrist by their primary health care physician or by a psychologist. Psychiatrists may offer psychotherapy or other treatments, but they are typically sought out to prescribe medications such as antidepressants, mood stabilizers, or stimulants.
You may find the thought of seeing a psychiatrist a bit daunting. It is entirely normal to have fears about this big step. However, overcoming your fear and taking action will enable you to get help. Remember that a can prescribe the medication that could potentially change your mental health for the better. Also, keep in mind that you can work with your doctor to find the best medication for you. You always have the right to refuse any medications that you are uncomfortable with.
An online psychiatrist conducts consultations over the internet, generally, with the use of video conference software. During one of these online sessions, you will be able to communicate with the psychiatrist using a smartphone, tablet or a computer. You will be able to see each other on the screens and you can talk in real time.
Distance communication for therapeutic purposes is not an unfamiliar concept. Sigmund Freud made considerable use of letters for communicating with his clients. In our modern world, numerous sites offer information on mental health along with private e-therapy clinics.
While historically there has been some skepticism about online mental healthcare, an increasing number of patients have been successfully treated by an online psychiatrist. Moreover, research has shown that online consultations may be as effective as face-to-face consultations.
The training and educational requirements for becoming an online psychiatrist are identical to those of a psychiatrist who practices in the traditional setting. These online practitioners also work according to the same ethical guidelines.
Online consultations are quite convenient. Many people can’t find the time to get away from work or their other obligations to see a psychiatrist in a traditional setting. With online therapy, you have the option of communicating with a mental health practitioner by email, through a video or phone call or over text chat. This is less time-consuming than having to take a day off from your life to see a psychiatrist.
Being able to get in touch with an online psychiatrist from nearly anywhere is another wonderful benefit of this service that you can make use of while you are traveling. This technological development also offers a unique opportunity for individuals who live in rural areas or areas with limited mental health care providers to connect with qualified psychiatrists.
The main tools for communicating with an online psychiatrist are:
- Real-Time Chat
- Internet Phone
- Instant Messaging (IM)
You can connect with a psychiatrist from the comfort of your home or from anywhere that suits you best. Online directories provide a simple solution to finding an online psychiatrist.
Online psychiatrists can work alongside hospitals and mental health clinics to expand the outreach of these institutions. Alternatively, they can contract with web-based companies that provide directories of providers who can be directly contacted by patients with mental health issues.
Online psychiatrists can also be found through a variety of online mental healthcare platforms, including here at ThriveTalk.
What’s the Difference Between a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist?
People often get psychologists and psychiatrists confused with each other. This is understandable as their job descriptions may overlap as they often work together.
Psychologists and psychiatrists have an understanding of how our brains work and both of these professions are involved in the identification of problems that may affect our emotions, feelings, and thoughts. The fact is, however, that there are fundamental differences between the two professions.
Psychiatrists attend medical school and they become medical doctors before they receive specialized training in mental health. Seeing as psychiatrists are doctors, they understand the links that exist between physical and mental problems. Furthermore, they are licensed to not only provide psychotherapy but also prescribe medications.
Psychologists focus on psychotherapy and using behavioral intervention to treat difficult emotional and mental problems. They are capable of conducting psychological testing, which is an essential part of the assessment of a patient’s mental state, in order to determine the best course of treatment.
Psychiatrists and psychologists are also schooled differently. Psychiatrists attend 4 years of medical school, an internship that lasts 1 year and 3 years of specialist training. Psychologists generally have doctoral degrees in psychology, and they have to complete a 2-3 year internship. Students of both these professions also have the option of extending their studies.
How Do I Assess Potential Psychiatrists?
In the same way that psychiatrists in “real-world” settings have various qualifications and licenses, online therapists can also come from different educational backgrounds and have different credentials.
There are no quick and easy paths to becoming an online psychiatrist. In fact, the educational and training requirements for online therapists are the same as for those who practice in a face-to-face setting. An online psychiatrist also needs to be licensed to practice in the field of mental health.
To ensure the ethical practice of online therapy, certain standards have to be upheld. The guidelines for online consultations include these minimum standards and practices:
- Psychiatrists are only allowed to work within their scope of practice.
- An online psychiatrist has to adhere to the guidelines and laws specified by their location.
- Therapists need to gain knowledge about online therapy and they have to be trained and supervised for these purposes.
- As an online psychiatrist, the practitioner has to have a strong understanding of technology. They should know how to utilize the tools required for delivering psychotherapy online and to ensure the privacy and security of patient information.
What Do I Do to Set Up the First Session?
If your online consultation is at a hospital or a clinic, everything should be ready for you when you get there.
If you decide to do the online session at home, you will need:
- A private room that is well-lit and quiet enough
- A fast and reliable internet connection
- A smartphone, tablet or computer
Take some time before the appointment to get everything in order. If you choose to use a computer, it should have a webcam and a microphone. Luckily, most new computers have these technologies built in. Make sure that your camera is fully functional and that your microphone works properly by testing them beforehand.
It’s important to be mentally prepared before seeing you online psychiatrist, just as you would seeing someone in person. Prior to your appointment, reflect on what brought you to this point. Jot down your symptoms, your feelings, and be as detailed as possible.
Your psychiatrist will provide you with instructions about downloading any necessary software. You don’t have to purchase any additional software. Once you have everything set up, you are ready to start your first online psychiatry session.
What Happens in the First Session?
During your appointment, your online psychiatrist will have a conversation with you and ask you specific questions just as they would in a traditional face-to-face consultation.
The first session includes an opportunity for consent and orientation. Your psychiatrist will listen as you talk about any troubling mental or physical symptoms you have been experiencing. They will also want to learn about your concerns.
At the end of the session, the psychiatrist will share their general impressions about your situation with you and they may discuss certain requirements for the next session. They’ll also send any medications they prescribed out to the pharmacy of your choice.
Questions to Ask a Potential Psychiatrist
If you are considering working with an online psychiatrist you may be wondering what questions you could ask ahead of time before you take this big step. After all, psychotherapy, even online therapy, is not something that you enter into without careful consideration.
The following questions should provide you with the answers that you need to get things in motion:
- Will my personal information remain confidential?
- Are online consultations private?
- What do I need for the first consultation?
- Can I someone sit in with me for a consultation?
- What are the costs involved?
How Do I Obtain a Prescription From an Online Psychiatrist?
In order to obtain a prescription from your online psychiatrist, you must first have a consultation. Of course, this is a legal and ethical requirement, but is also an important first step in identifying which treatments will be most effective in helping you. After assessing your needs, your psychiatrist will use his or her best judgement and recommend a treatment plan for you, that may include appropriate medications based on your symptoms medical history. From there, they will send the prescription to your pharmacy of choice to be filled. It’s that simple!
Your Online Psychiatrist is Only a Click Away!
Online psychotherapy is becoming very popular these days with rising numbers of consumers. As with everything else it is always important to think about the pros as well as the cons of consulting with an online psychiatrist.
You may be afraid that you will experience uncomfortable side-effects from using psychiatric medications. Or perhaps you are concerned about the social stigma connected to seeing a psychiatrist. The best advice would be to not let your fears get in the way of you living a happy and fulfilling life.
Consider seeing an online therapist who will be able to help you. With this new development in psychiatric care, you can have access to mental health treatment in the comfort of your home with the click of a mouse.