Benefits of online counseling: A comprehensive guide
Online therapy is often seen as the “new way” to connect with a caring, qualified mental health professional. On the contrary, remote counseling services have been around in some form for more than 60 years.
At Thriveworks, we acknowledge online therapy as an effective, medically-reviewed option for mental health treatment. Thriveworks offers online therapy via video and connects clients to skilled, licensed mental health professionals.
Is Online Counseling Effective? How Can It Help Me?
Though some may prefer a face to face session with a licensed therapist online counseling is, indeed, effective.
In fact, online services have been especially helpful for clients who find that they:
- Have few qualified counselors or coaches in their area
- Feel uncomfortable meeting with a therapist in person
- Prefer to connect with a provider from the comfort of their home (or office)
Online counseling provides better accessibility to care for people that have no transportation, can’t afford childcare, don’t have counselors in their area, or even those that don’t have time in their schedule for the commute.
The Research Behind Online Counseling
There are decades of research that show the efficacy and benefits of online counseling. A 2018 meta-analysis involving over 1,400 clients, explored the effectiveness of online vs. in-person cognitive behavioral therapy sessions. The results revealed that online counseling is just as effective in treating the distress and emotional pain of clients as in-person methods.
A 2020 study looked at another type of therapy called solutions-focused brief therapy, which focuses on setting goals and finding solutions to one’s problems. The researchers randomly assigned college students with mild to moderate levels of anxiety to receive either online therapy or in-person therapy. Both methods of therapy were equally effective at reducing anxiety— and the clients who received online counseling were just as satisfied with their counseling experience as in-person therapy patients.
Research consistently indicates that online therapy is successful in treating anxiety, depression, and forms of trauma, as an experiment using randomized trial tests indicated that online therapy methods can successfully reduce PTSD symptoms in clients.
Factors to Consider
There are a few conditions and disorders that respond best to in-person treatment, either due to the needs of the condition or the needs of the treatment. For example, addictions may need in-person treatment, and oftentime exposure therapy works best face-to-face for those who need it depending on their phobia.
However, the majority of issues can be treated just as well through online counseling as they would in in-person therapy. What makes online counseling the most effective is using it when it’s appropriate, either for the client’s desires or the needs of specific conditions and treatments.
How Does Online Counseling Work?
Online counseling is counseling done comfortably and conveniently via online means. At Thriveworks, you can connect online with a licensed mental health professional by video chat—also called video counseling. If you choose to attend counseling via online video therapy, you will use a link to connect with your provider at the agreed-upon time.
The session can take place wherever you’d like to be, as long as it’s safe and has working internet access. However, you must be in the same state where your clinician is licensed for credentialing reasons, though you can be anywhere in that state.
Other than that, it will function much like any other therapy session. Your therapist will likely ask you about your concerns, and if this is a first appointment, you might discuss goals you have for therapy and start establishing a treatment plan to reach those goals.
Benefits of Online Counseling
There are many benefits to doing therapy online. Online therapy has all of the benefits of in-person counseling, along with a few more. For example:
1. Convenience and Flexibility
As stated above, online counseling greatly improves people’s access to therapeutic services. There are no transportation costs, childcare expenses, or time lost due to commuting, making it an incredibly convenient option. It also allows clients to look for availability within their entire state, not just locally, which can help people get the care they need much more quickly.
Another benefit of online counseling is increased access to a range of mental health specialists. A variety of mental health conditions and disorders can benefit from treatment from a specialist, whether that be for more specific evaluations or therapeutic treatment techniques based on specific training programs. Since they have such specific areas of specialization, online counseling makes finding availability for a wider range of professionals and specializations, and therefore getting necessary treatment more quickly, much easier.
2. Privacy and Comfort
Online counseling also allows clients to attend therapy in a familiar place, such as their home or their office. They have complete control over their environment and don’t ever have to adjust to or feel uncomfortable in a new space. For many people, this can make starting therapy a much easier process.
3. Reduced Stigma
Though the conversation around mental health is much more open today than it has been in the past, there is still stigma surrounding seeking therapy. Starting therapy can already feel intimidating for some, and it can be made even harder when managing other people’s opinions. Since online therapy doesn’t require leaving where you are or seeking childcare, your mental health journey can be as private as you’d like as you adjust to your new routine.
What Mental Health Issues Can Be Addressed in Online Therapy?
There is a range of mental health issues that can be addressed in online therapy with a licensed professional counselor. For example:
1. Relationship Issues
Many couples seek relationship help in online counseling. Licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs) help individuals work through common relationship challenges like intimacy issues, poor communication, and lack of trust.
They might pull from the Gottman Method, use emotionally-focused therapy (EFT), or use any number of other approaches depending on the issues at hand and the needs of the couple.
2. Symptoms of Mental Illness
Online therapy can help those who are exhibiting symptoms of a mental illness. Depression, anxiety, and eating disorders are just a few examples.
An online psychologist or therapist can help an individual manage their specific symptoms and move toward recovery. They might pull techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other therapies, depending on their specific needs.
3. Grief and Loss
Another unfortunate challenge that many encounter in their lifetime is the loss of a close friend or family member. A painful loss like this can have a profound effect. Fortunately, online grief counseling can help these individuals.
After losing a friend or family member, you might feel depressed, angry, or regretful. Your counselor will help you work through your specific emotions related to this loss.
4. Child, Adolescent, and Teen Challenges
Child therapy and teen counseling can be conducted online, too. Young individuals encounter unique challenges like bullying, behavioral issues, and learning disorders.
They also experience challenges that adults run into, like stress, the loss of a loved one, major life transitions, and trauma. Licensed child therapists have the skills and experience to help.
5. Stress and Difficult Emotions
A common reason people seek online therapy is stress. Licensed therapists can help their clients understand and manage their specific stressors. Many people also pursue online counseling for help with difficult emotions, like anger and grief. Licensed professionals can help them better understand and manage these emotions, too.
Online therapists are capable of helping their clients address many different mental health issues, including the common challenges above. If you’re struggling mentally or emotionally, you can find the right help and guidance in online counseling.
Online Counseling Services That Take Insurance
Fortunately, a growing number of insurance companies and health plans are paying for therapy services provided online. In addition, Thriveworks offers affordable online therapy by accepting most major forms of insurance. Today, we’re proud to accept 575+ plans, covering 180 million Americans.
To determine if your insurance plan will cover online therapy, simply call the number on the back of your insurance card. If your plan covers online services, we’ll be happy to accept your benefits and schedule your first session right away.
That said, we know that using insurance can be a hassle and that services are not always covered. With this in mind, we offer self-pay rates to ensure that our services are accessible to those who aren’t using insurance.
Choosing the Right Online Counseling Platform
When browsing online counseling platforms, it’s important that you choose one that checks all of your boxes. For many, those boxes include:
- Covered by insurance
- Tried and trusted
- Flexible availability
- Easy to schedule
- Upcoming availability
Thriveworks checks all of these boxes. We work hard to make therapy work better for our clients and clinicians alike.
Thriveworks.com: Your Trusted Online Counseling Provider
At Thriveworks, quality therapy and psychiatry services are accessible and affordable. Whatever assistance you need, we have the providers and resources needed to support you. We offer specialized counseling services both online and in person for the following concerns:
Scheduling is quick and easy: You can use our online booking tool to find and schedule with a provider or call to speak with our friendly scheduling specialists. Clients that book with Thriveworks often see a provider within just a week of scheduling.