How to Choose an Online Therapist
Follow these steps to ensure a good fit with your new online therapist
How to Choose an Online Therapist
Follow these steps to ensure a good fit with your new online therapist
December 22, 2023 / bestonlinetherapyservices.com staff
How to Choose an Online Therapist
Follow these steps to ensure a good fit with your new online therapist
December 22, 2023 / bestonlinetherapyservices.com staff
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How do I choose an online therapist?

Finding the right therapist is an important first step on your mental health journey.

Individuals who establish a solid relationship based on connection and trust with their therapist show better outcomes overall. They also tend to find therapy more enjoyable, less stressful, and more rewarding. Feeling safe and comfortable in the patient-therapist relationship is key to maintaining the kind of openness and honesty that propels therapy forward.

At the same time, it’s important to find a therapist whose educational background, areas of interest and experience, and treatment strategies align with your expectations and goals. Psychotherapy is not a homogenous, one-size-fits-all endeavor. There are different schools of thought and different approaches that may work better for you than others.

In this article, we’ll take a step-by-step look at how to choose an online therapist that meets your emotional and psychological needs.

Step 1. Assess your needs and expectations

The first step is to paint a clear picture—both for yourself and your future therapist—of why you’re seeking therapy.

One way to do this is to describe where you are now and where you’d like to be. What kinds of feelings and thoughts are you having and how would you like them to change? There’s no right or wrong approach here. Write as much or as little as necessary. You might fill a page; you might just jot down a few descriptive words.

The process is more important than the actual result. The act of thinking and writing will help you more clearly understand what you’re looking for, which you can then communicate to your therapist.

It can also be useful to learn a bit more about the different kinds of therapy available to you. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and psychodynamic therapy are all popular approaches. Reading through the descriptions may give you a better idea of what approach is right for you. This is also something to discuss with your therapist at your first session.

Step 2. Use an online therapy platform to narrow your search

Online therapy platforms can be broadly broken down into two main flavors:

Our Top 3 Online Therapy Services

Our top choice
#1
9.8
Outstanding

In a Nutshell

We all encounter relationship issues from time to time, and sometimes we need a little help to work things out. ReGain is a convenient and affordable couples therapy platform, which uses a thorough assessment to match individuals and couples with a therapist that suits their needs and preferences. All therapists are licensed practitioners with a range of expertise. But what unites them is their interest and experience in working with couples and individuals.

Features

  • Therapy for couples and individuals
  • Detailed questionnaire to assess your needs
  • 3-way call for couples in separate locations
  • Licensed marriage and family therapists

Pros

  • Get matched to a licensed online couples therapist quickly
  • Message anytime, plus live chat & video
  • Fill out a detailed questionnaire to assess your personal needs
  • Meet or talk with your therapist individually or as a couple

Cons

  • The platform does not regulate counselor services
  • No live chat for assistance on the site
  • Therapists are not directly hired by the platform
#2
9.4
Excellent
6298 Excellent reviews on

In a Nutshell

BetterHelp is a 100% online therapy platform, with over 30,000 licensed therapists serving clients globally. The site matches you with a therapist who can help you with issues like depression, anxiety, bereavement, and more. Its standard membership includes weekly 1-to-1, 30-minute sessions, messages, live chat, and group webinars. Prices are affordable compared to traditional therapy, and you can access BetterHelp on any device.

Features

  • 35k+ professional & credentialled therapists
  • Phone, chat, or video counseling sessions
  • Affordable therapy for your mental health
  • 20% off your first month

Pros

  • Quick matching to licensed therapists based on your needs
  • High availability of therapists
  • Caters to a wide variety of groups (LGBTQIA+, Christian, teens, etc.)
  • Change therapists easily
  • Video and phone sessions, live chat, message your therapist anytime
  • Anywhere, anytime therapy with the iOS and Android apps

Cons

  • Standard weekly video sessions are only 30-45 minutes
  • Therapists can’t diagnose illnesses or prescribe medication
  • BetterHelp can’t substitute face-to-face therapy in every case
6298 Excellent reviews on
#3
9.1
Excellent

In a Nutshell

Talkspace offers online therapy solutions with an emphasis on text messaging as a primary means of engaging with your therapist. For many, this makes for a much more flexible and accessible therapy solution. The standard membership can be a more affordable alternative to traditional therapy. Extra features like a live matching session and the ability to speak with a psychiatrist (to manage medication) also help Talkspace stand out.

Features

  • Easy counselor matching
  • Start your therapy journey immediately
  • Unlimited 24/7 messaging
  • A number of different health insurance plans

Pros

  • Offers personalized matching for clients and therapists
  • Lets you choose your therapist from a list of suggested providers
  • Accepts a number of health insurance plans
  • Service is accessible through some schools and workplaces
  • Provides tutorial videos to show users how to navigate the site

Cons

  • Standard membership only includes text-based therapy
  • Live sessions can be more expensive than other online options

Online Directories

OnlineTherapy.com , for example, is a popular online therapy service with a large directory of therapists available for online counseling. You can filter results by issue or focus (like anxiety, depression, marriage counseling, etc.), language, region, gender and sexuality, faith focus, profession, age group, treatment approaches, and more.

The advantage of directories like this is that you can read through as many profiles as you like and directly contact the therapists that stand out.

Most therapists specialize in only a few domains. This may not only reflect their interests but also their educational background and treatment approaches. If you’re struggling with anxiety, be sure to look at therapists who specialize in anxiety management. If you and your partner are having trouble communicating effectively, seek out a couples or family counselor. Lean on your notes from Step 1 to help you narrow down your search.

Quick Tip : When faced with a large number of profiles online, you can use your browser’s built-in search function (Ctrl + F on Windows, Cmd + F on Mac) to look for specific terms, like “work-life balance”, “transgender,” or “sports.”

Matching Services

Matching services like BetterHelp have grown in popularity in recent years. They leverage the power of AI and sophisticated machine-learning algorithms to match patients to therapists based on a questionnaire or interview.

The advantage here is that much of the work is done for you. You need only answer the questionnaire honestly and you’ve got a good chance of being matched with the right therapist on the first try. BetterHelp has helped over 4 million people, which means they have a huge amount of data to draw upon to make accurate recommendations.

You lose some of the control, but the process can be much quicker and just as rewarding. The best online therapy platforms have been built with the input of professional psychologists and therapists, so it’s a little like having an expert help you in your choice.

All online therapy platforms allow you to ask to be matched to a new therapist if you’re not happy with your current one, so there’s very little risk involved.

Step 3. Get to know your new therapist

Once you’ve chosen a therapist from a directory or have been matched with a therapist online, it’s crucial you approach this new relationship openly and honestly. This doesn’t just mean being open and honest with your therapist (which takes time), but also with yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and be sure to clearly explain your hopes and expectations for therapy.

A good therapist will listen to what you have to say, honestly let you know whether and how they can help you, and then work with you to build a treatment plan. They will also help you adjust your expectations based on their experience and common outcomes and explain what you can expect from your sessions together.

What to do if it doesn’t “click”?

It can take some time to feel comfortable enough with your therapist to talk about your thoughts and feelings. In some cases, the anxiety or discomfort you feel may be quite general and not specific to your relationship. If that’s the case, speak to them about it; they may be able to help.

However, if after a few sessions, you feel like you’d be more comfortable or better able to connect with somebody else, it may be time to change therapists. After all, trust, openness, and honesty are all essential to making the most of your experience, so it’s important to find somebody that elicits these kinds of feelings.

Therapists understand this and want you to feel comfortable and make progress. They understand the importance of the patient-therapist relationship, and a good online therapist will encourage you to seek out somebody you feel compatible with.

Finally, don’t be afraid to “go back to the drawing board”. This is a normal and natural part of therapy. Plus, you’ll have a better idea next time of who you’re looking for, what you liked, and what you didn’t like. Time spent in therapy is never time wasted.

Conclusion

Choosing an online therapist is important. The patient-therapist relationship can have a big impact on your personal experience with therapy and its effectiveness.

Start by getting a clear picture of why you’re seeking therapy and what you hope to achieve.

Next, use an online platform to find a therapist or take advantage of sophisticated matching services. You can compare platforms using our chart of best online therapy services and choose the service that fits you best.

Finally, spend time getting to know your therapist and establishing a treatment plan with them. If you don’t feel comfortable with your current therapist, don’t hesitate to seek help from somebody else.

By bestonlinetherapyservices.com staff
bestonlinetherapyservices.com staff is comprised of freelance writers who write for the site
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