Considering using an online therapy site? We’re breaking down all of the most pressing questions people have about virtual therapy
Now more than ever, people are recognizing that therapy is an effective way to manage symptoms of several mental health conditions. In the past, therapy and mental health were taboo subjects. Recently, the conversation has changed for the better and people are finding that they feel their best when they meet consistently with a therapist. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person therapy sessions became impossible during the era of strict social distancing. That’s where online therapy sites come to the rescue. Online therapy is a great way for people who have mental health issues to conveniently and privately receive talk therapy without driving to an office. Since 2020, many people who previously did not attend therapy—and those who needed to switch due to social distancing—are now using online therapy options to feel their best.
If you are considering making the switch, or are considering virtual therapy as your first talk therapy experience, you likely have a few questions about how the process works. That’s why we’re here to answer your most pressing inquiries including finding therapy options with insurance and what to expect at your first appointment. If you are feeling on the fence about virtual therapy, keep reading!
Which Mental Health Issues Can be Treated Using an Online Therapy Site?
Online therapy sites can be used to treat a range of mental health disorders
If you are considering trying out talk therapy with an online therapy site, you might be wondering if online therapy is the right option to alleviate your symptoms. If you experience any of the following disorders, online therapy is a viable treatment option
- Anxiety disorders including general anxiety and PTSD
- Relationship problems
- Work or school issues
It is important to note that you don’t have to have a diagnosis to attend virtual therapy. Whether you are going through a temporary situation that you feel can be addressed through therapy or you are acknowledging an ongoing pattern, virtual therapy could be right for you.
Are Online Therapy Sites as Effective as In-Person Therapy?
Yes, online therapy sites are just as effective as in-person therapy for most people
Online therapy is still a relatively new way of receiving talk therapy, which leaves some potential clients skeptical as to whether or not it is as effective as traditional, in-person therapy. Since it is so new, there is not a lot of data collected to show the efficacy of virtual therapy vs in-person therapy. However, there is some evidence that online therapy is just as effective as in-person therapy.
It is also worth noting that online therapy is more popular now than it ever has been—and for a good reason. People are noticing the positive effects of talk therapy now that it is more accessible, and in lots of cases more affordable as well.
Why Are People Choosing Online Therapy Over In-Person Therapy?
There are a lot of reasons people who struggle with their mental health have switched over to online therapy sites
We know that online therapy sites are more widely used than ever before, but why exactly are so many people using online therapy sites to manage their mental health? Let’s take a look at a few of the most common reasons people are choosing virtual therapy over in-person therapy.
- Convenience – Many people enjoy the option to receive therapy via a video call or over the phone instead of driving to a therapist’s office.
- Time Constraints – People who have busy working lives and people who have children often do not have the time to attend in-person therapy sessions—especially during working hours.
- Accessibility – People who live in rural areas may not have a therapist or a therapist that fits their needs within driving distance. Virtual therapy allows people everywhere to attend therapy in the comfort of their homes.
These three reasons are compelling for many people who may have previously been on the fence about seeking out online therapy sites for help.
How Much Does Online Therapy Cost?
Depending on the type of care you require, there will be different costs associated with online therapy services
If you’re considering online therapy, there are a few ways that you can go about it. The cost of your online therapy will vary depending on how you source your therapy sessions and whether or not you have insurance. You can choose from an online therapy platform or a therapist that provides online services. An online therapy platform is a site where you can schedule appointments, attend video calls, and even message your therapist. These types of online therapy services generally require payment either weekly or monthly and range anywhere from $60-$80 per week.
The other easy way that you can access online therapy services is directly through a therapist of your choice. Getting virtual therapy directly through a therapist is going to have a higher price tag than one of the platforms unless your chosen therapist accepts your insurance.
If you aren’t initially sure which option is right for you, you want to assess the severity of your symptoms. Often online therapy platforms can treat people who suffer from milder symptoms of mental health disorders. Online therapy platforms are also for people who want to connect with their therapist via a messaging service. Many of the platforms allow you to contact a therapist whenever you need advice, help, or need to get something off of your chest.
On the other hand, if you are experiencing more severe symptoms and want to see someone who specializes in your condition, it is better to seek therapy directly through a therapist. Seeking out online therapy directly through a therapist will usually run you anywhere from $100 to $250 per session depending on whether or not the therapist takes your insurance. In some cases, if a therapist takes your insurance, finding care directly through a therapist can actually be cheaper.
Are There Online Therapy Services that Take Insurance?
Finding an online provider that takes your insurance may be difficult, but it isn’t impossible
Though there aren’t a lot of online therapy sites that take insurance, more options are becoming available every day. More and more, online therapy platforms are adapting to patient needs and are beginning to take on some insurance providers. Some platforms help you find a therapist that takes your insurance. If you want to use insurance to pay for your online therapy sessions, it will take a bit of research—but it is possible.
What Qualifications Do Online Therapists Have?
To work with an online therapy site, therapists need to be licensed in their state
No matter which way to choose to attend virtual therapy, you want to make sure that you are getting the right therapist to address your needs. At a minimum, all therapists must complete graduate school and practice clinically for a certain number of hours before they can be licensed in their state. Anyone who is providing therapy services has to be licensed in their state, so you know that your therapist is qualified. If you want to find out about further qualifications from your therapist, you can always ask about their background and which kinds of mental health issues they specialize in. If you find that the therapist you are currently seeing doesn’t work for your needs, online therapy platforms make it easy to switch therapists until you find someone who you feel is a good match.
Are Online Therapy Sessions Private?
All online therapy sessions are HIPPA compliant
Online projects are certainly a hot topic these days. We all hear more about VPNs, cookies, and hackers than we’d like. So, it makes sense that people who are considering online therapy sites are concerned about their privacy. The good news is that when you attend an online therapy session, your video call is encrypted and HIPAA compliant. That way, you don’t have to worry about your privacy any more than you would at an in-person therapy session.
What Should I Expect at My First Virtual Therapy Appointment?
It is completely normal to have questions and concerns leading up to your first appointment using online therapy
Attending your very first therapy appointment can be daunting. That’s why we’ve come up with a few guidelines to help your first appointment go smoothly. After all, the better your session, the closer you will be to feeling your best. Let’s go over a few of the most pressing questions people have before attending their first appointment:
- How Do I Know If My Therapist is Right for Me?
Remember, your therapy sessions are all about you. If you have any questions that you want to ask your therapist, the best time to do it is during the first session. You can ask them about their approach, their background, and which kinds of clients they normally see. And, if your therapist isn’t the best fit for your needs, you can always explore other options.
- How Often Will I Meet With My Therapist?
How often you meet with your therapist will depend on your needs and your availability. Some people find therapy beneficial if they see their therapist every week, some people find that they only need to see their therapist once a month to start feeling better. As we previously discussed, some online therapy sites allow you to communicate with your counselor on-demand, which is also effective for people who are between sessions and in need of advice
- How Will I Know That Therapy is Working for Me?
While there isn’t one way to know whether or not therapy is working for you, there are a few signs that you can look out for after a few sessions. For example, you may be practicing positive self-talk or you are noticing that your thoughts aren’t racing as much as they used to—these are both signs that you are benefiting from talk therapy. It is unrealistic to expect dramatic results after your first few sessions, but after seeing a therapist for a while most people report that their symptoms are not as severe. Remember, a therapist won’t prevent you from feeling anxious or down—they simply give you the tools to deal with your feelings.
- What Kind of Questions Will My Therapist Ask Me?
When you attend your very first therapy session, you can expect that your therapist will ask you questions about how you are feeling, why you decided to pursue therapy, and about your past. Your therapist needs to have a good working knowledge of your life and relationships, so we definitely recommend telling them as much as you feel comfortable. Often, issues related to mental health can feel embarrassing or uncomfortable to discuss, which leads some clients to be initially hesitant to disclose their feelings. In reality, it is more important that you disclose everything you feel is necessary for your therapist to know so they can help you deal with symptoms of mental health disorders. If your therapist isn’t given all of the necessary details, then it will be more difficult for them to help you understand your feelings.
How Will I Be Communicating With My Therapist?
Depending on the how tech-savvy you are, you may have a preference as to how you communicate with your therapist
When you think of attending online therapy sites, you are probably imagining a video call. But, what if you aren’t interested in a video call or don’t feel technologically savvy enough to set it up. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your therapist over video call—or if you are experiencing a glitchy connection—there are other ways that you can communicate with your therapist. Some people prefer speaking to their therapist over the phone instead of talking over video. You are still able to reap all of the benefits of talk therapy without connecting via video.
If you are interested in messaging your therapist in between appointments, you are probably a good candidate for an online therapy site that offers a messaging service. Some people prefer attending sessions more infrequently in favor of quick messaging—it all depends on how you respond to virtual therapy!
Can a Therapist Prescribe Medication?
Many people wonder if they can get a prescription from an online therapy site
Medication helps many people overcome daily mental health struggles. While there are a lot of people who benefit from a combination of virtual therapy and medication, your therapist can’t prescribe you medication. This is not unique to online therapy sites either, in-person therapists are also unable to prescribe medication. If you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition you feel can be treated with medication, you need to be diagnosed by a psychiatrist. The good news is that these days there are many ways to access remote psychiatrists to access medication.
Should I Prepare for My First Therapy Session?
Everyone who pursues online therapy should have a goal in mind
A lot of people who are attending virtual therapy for the first time feel unprepared for their first session. It makes sense—if you haven’t previously attended a therapy session, it is hard to know what to expect. That’s why you should do a little bit of preparation before your first session.
The first thing you should do to prepare for your first session is to list your goals for therapy. For example, you might want to improve your confidence, diminish racing thoughts, work out existing relationship issues, or maybe just feel better overall. When you list out your goals for therapy, you can more easily communicate with your therapist so they know the issues you’re looking to solve from the very first session.
It is also beneficial to list out your symptoms. It can often be hard to articulate your feelings on the spot during your session, so it is a good idea to write down your symptoms and describe them in as much detail as you can.
If you are seeing your therapist via video call, it is logistically important to make sure all elements of your video call are set up. Your online therapy site may use a specific video call service like Zoom, so you want to make sure you have the application downloaded on your computer before your session starts. We also recommend testing out your camera to make sure that your audio and video are clear and properly synced.
After you’ve set up your camera and adequately prepared for your first session, you’re ready to go! If you’re feeling nervous—that’s ok! Just remember your therapist is there to help you, not to judge you. Be honest with your therapist and they’ll be able to provide you with the tools you need to feel your best. So what are you waiting for? You could start feeling better with the help of virtual therapy today!