Like traditional therapy, the goal of online therapy is to improve one’s well-being, reduce symptoms of mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, and find and treat their root cause. The only difference is that, rather than attending in-person sessions, patients and virtual therapists communicate via text or voice messaging, live chat, and voice and video calling.
A recent study, as explained here , shows the benefits of online therapy. Most notably the ability to reach people who otherwise wouldn't be able to make it to an office in person, and even more attractive is the flexible prices that are typically cheaper than in-person therapists.
Online therapy, also called teletherapy or virtual therapy, isn’t right for everybody. Individuals who are experiencing an acute mental health emergency, are having thoughts about suicide or harming themselves or others, or who have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness like severe depression or schizophrenia will benefit more from in-person counseling.
If you are in a life-threatening situation or mental health emergency, contact 1 800 273 8255 or 911 for help.
You can access most of the best online therapy apps using your computer, phone, or tablet.
While every online counseling platform is different, you can expect your journey to look something like this:
1. You’ll start by filling out a short questionnaire regarding your current and past mental health, your reasons for seeking therapy online, and who you are as a person.
For example, you may encounter questions about your religious or spiritual beliefs, your gender identity and sexuality, or your relationships status. Of course, you won’t be required to answer any questions you don’t want to, but doing so can help a lot with the next step.
2. This step involves being matched with a therapist online. Some online counseling services provide you with a shortlist of online counselors to choose from, while others will match you with the therapist they think best meets your needs and preferences.
All online counseling apps allow you to ask for a new therapist if you feel you’re not making progress with your current one.
3. After you’ve matched with an online therapist, you can begin messaging them immediately. Otherwise, they might reach out to you to introduce themselves and explain more about their treatment approach.
Depending on the platform and plan you’ve chosen, you’ll also have the option of setting up a voice or video call.
The best online therapy apps offer a huge variety of specializations, making it much easier for you to find the right online therapist for your situation. These include the following:
With the huge number of online therapists available today, just about every specialization is represented. Counsellors who conduct therapy online have the same accreditations as: in traditional therapy, including:
Affordability is one of the primary benefits of virtual counseling. Some online therapy platforms offer a variety of plans, although many of the most popular ones, like BetterHelp, have just one flat rate per month. Some online therapy apps include texting anytime and at least one voice or video session per week, although some charge extra for these live sessions.
Additionally, some platforms offer online therapy that’s covered by insurance or online therapy that takes Medicaid, while others offer financial aid for those in need. It’s possible to find free online therapy in the form of self-guided, self-paced sessions, although many people have greater success working actively with an online therapist.
Online therapy offers a number of advantages to traditional therapy.
As already mentioned, even the best online counseling can be significantly less costly than traditional, in-person therapy. Some online therapy services often include messaging, live chat, and video. Finding an affordable online therapy solution can be much easier than finding an in-person one.
The best therapy apps allow you to message your online therapist 24/7, without having to book an appointment, and they’ll respond when they’re able. Anybody with a stable internet connection can use online counseling, making it particularly useful for individuals with reduced mobility or who reside in rural communities.
Many people find teletherapy far more convenient than its traditional counterpart. For example, you may be more comfortable expressing yourself via text message rather than speaking. It gives you time to put your thoughts and feelings into words. With therapy online, you can get help from the comfort of your home or another safe place.
The first thing you’ll need to do is choose an online counseling service. There are a few factors you’ll want to consider. You can use our chart above to compare the best online therapy services and choose the one that fits your needs best.
Choosing an online therapist is an important part of your mental health journey with therapy online. There are a few important factors to consider, but this is one area where the best online therapy apps definitely excel. Many popular therapy apps use sophisticated algorithms to match you with a virtual counselor based on an initial questionnaire. You’ll find many of the same questions as these: