Online Therapist: You’re Just One Click Away!

Thanks to the digital and technological advancements that have reshaped the 21st century, mental health services are now more available and accessible than ever. From valuable self-help tools (like articles, videos, e-books and guides) to trained mental health professionals, everything is one click away. Did you know that there are web-based platforms where you can book an online therapist? That’s right! You can benefit from quality counseling and therapy services without having to leave the comfort of your home.

What is an Online Therapist?

There’s not much difference between an online therapist and a “traditional” therapist. Both focus on providing mental health services that help you cope with emotional or behavioral issues.

But unlike “traditional” therapists, online therapists deliver their services via online channels. That means you can carry out your sessions through video conferences, audio calls, or even text messages.

Online Therapy

At this moment, online therapy is one of the simplest, most accessible ways to get in contact with a licensed professional who can help you deal with your emotional or behavioral problems.

This new approach to mental health is especially useful for people with disabilities, for whom going to a mental health clinic might be a considerable challenge. It’s also an excellent alternative to “traditional” mental health care for people living in isolated areas.

How Does it Work?

As the name suggests, online therapy takes place via online communication channels; making it easier for you to get in touch with a professional.

Some of the main communication channels used by online therapists are:

  • Video conferencing
  • Instant messaging
  • Real-time online chat
  • E-mail
  • Audio call

Traditional Therapy vs Online Therapy

As mentioned before, the only notable difference between traditional and online therapy is the communication channel through which the therapeutic process takes place.

In terms of quality and efficiency, both approaches seem to be equally valid for a broad range of conditions. In fact, some experts recommend the use of both online and offline counseling services to increase the chances of recovery.

For example, one study published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, suggests that a mix of online self-help and inpatient psychotherapy can lead to significant improvements in depressive disorders.

What Can Online Therapy Help With?

Most experts claim that online therapy is an excellent solution for people who struggle with problems like depression, anxiety, or stress. It has also been suggested that online therapy can help people who suffer from mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder. But what do researchers have to say about online therapy services?

Two recent studies, published in JAMA Psychiatry, revealed that web-based cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective intervention for insomnia and suicidal ideation.

Furthermore, one study (published in Behavioral Modification) concluded that web-based acceptance and commitment therapy can work wonders for college students who struggle with alcohol use, eating disorders, or hostility.

Overall, it seems like there’s plenty of evidence supporting the effectiveness of online therapy for behavioral health and mental health as well as assisting those who suffer from mental illness.     

Benefits of Online Therapy

To help you understand how online therapy can make a huge difference, let’s look at a 2015 study published in The Journal of Medical Internet Research.

According to this study, online therapy can help people with PTSD who live in war-torn countries and don’t have access to “live” therapy sessions.

This is an excellent example of how an online therapist can provide support to people who don’t have access to inpatient or outpatient mental health clinics. Online therapy can also help you to avoid stigmatization and it creates an ideal opportunity for keeping your life private.

Online Therapist: Training and Qualifications

In broad lines, online therapists are required to complete the same training courses and follow the same qualification procedures as any other types of therapists. They also have to comply with the same practice guidelines.

Fortunately, most online therapy platforms do serious background checks to make sure the therapists listed on their websites are in fact certified professionals.

Ethics of Online Therapy

Ethical and legal issues can raise many questions for people who wish to contact an online therapist. In general, online therapy should be governed by the same ethical and legal standards as “traditional” therapy.

But can we be sure that a platform providing this service doesn’t share our personal information with a third party? What about the counselors and therapists listed there? Are they certified professionals?

First of all, therapists should ALWAYS obtain informed consent from their clients, regardless of the channel through which they provide their services. 

Secondly, it’s up to you to gain as much information as possible and to clarify any possible dilemmas, before you decide to work with an online therapist.   

For more details, you can visit the National Board for Certified Counselors website.

Finding the Best Online Therapy

It is important that you search for the best online therapy suited to your particular situation. Do your research and learn from others.

The Right Platform

When it comes to finding the right platform, transparency should be the key aspect to look for. That means finding a platform where counselors are open to answering any and every question you might have about their services. Furthermore, reliable online therapy platforms will always display their therapists’ credentials and certifications.  

Referrals

One easy way to find reliable online therapy platforms is through referrals. If you have a friend who’s worked with an online therapist, go ahead and ask for a recommendation.

Recommendation Lists

Aside from referrals, there are other means through which you can get in touch with an online therapist. Nowadays, there’s plenty of online groups, chat rooms, or websites where you can find solid recommendations for therapy platforms.

How Do I Set Up an Online Therapy Session?

Setting up an online therapy session is quite simple and straight forward.

Scheduling an Appointment

If finding the right platform can be a bit challenging, scheduling an appointment is a piece of cake. Get their contact details and take the step.

Questions to Ask a Potential Therapist

Here’s a couple of questions you can ask your potential future online therapist:

  • How does online therapy work?
  • For how long have you been practicing online therapy?
  • What happens if the platform/communication channel goes down?
  • How will I be paying for your services?

Getting Ready for The First Session

Once you find the right platform (and the right therapist), all you have to do is schedule an appointment and get ready to turn your life around. Just make sure you have a stable internet connection, and you’re good to go.

Therapy has taken an exciting new turn and, in the digital age, we can take full advantage of the benefits of online therapy. Start your journey today. It’s just a click away!

References:

  1. R. Zwerenz, J. Becker, R. J. Knickenberg, M. Siepmann, K. Hagen and M. E. Beutel, “Online Self-Help as an Add-On to Inpatient Psychotherapy: Efficacy of a New Blended Treatment Approach,” Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, vol. 86, pp. 341-350, 2017.
  2. L. M. Ritterband, F. P. Thorndike and K. S. Ingersoll, “Effect of a Web-Based Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia Intervention With 1-Year Follow-up,” JAMA Psychiatry, vol. 74, no. 1, pp. 68-75, 2017.
  3. C. Guille, Z. Zhao and J. Krystal, “Web-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Intervention for the Prevention of Suicidal Ideation in Medical Interns,” JAMA Psychiatry, vol. 72, no. 12, pp. 1192-1198, 2015.
  4. M. E. Levin, J. A. Haeger and B. G. Pierce, “Web-Based Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Mental Health Problems in College Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” Behavior Modification, vol. 41, no. 1, 2016.
  5. C. Knaevelsrud, J. Brand, A. Lange, J. Ruwaard and B. Wagner, “Web-Based Psychotherapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in War-Traumatized Arab Patients: Randomized Controlled Trial,” Journal of Medical Internet Research, vol. 17, no. 3, 2015.
  6. K. Cherry, “Ethical and Legal Issues in Online Therapy,” Verywell Mind, 01 November 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.verywellmind.com/online-therapy-ethics-2795227.
author avatar
Angel Rivera
I am a Bilingual (Spanish) Psychiatrist with a mixture of strong clinical skills including Emergency Psychiatry, Consultation Liaison, Forensic Psychiatry, Telepsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry training in treatment of the elderly. I have training in EMR records thus very comfortable in working with computers. I served the difficult to treat patients in challenging environments in outpatient and inpatient settings
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