What Is Online Therapy?
Online therapy is an effective, medically-reviewed option for mental health treatment. It is a broad category that includes live video, phone calls, and live chat sessions. At Thriveworks, we offer online therapy by video.
If you ask five different professionals for a definition, you might get five somewhat different answers. Thriveworks Founder and CEO, Dr. AJ Centore, explains the move from traditional therapy to online services in The Journal of Professional Counseling: “Since the beginning, mental health counseling practices have endured many theoretical shifts—from Freudian to Jungian, to Rogerian, and so on. However, a recent shift concerns not therapeutic theory but the medium through which counseling is provided. Historically, counseling relationships have developed in-person between counselor and client. Today, telephone and online technologies offer new paths for the formation of those healing relationships.”
Online therapy has a long history. In 1986, Cornell University began providing an online therapy service of sorts when they developed a program called “Dear Uncle Ezra.” With Ezra, anonymous students could write to an anonymous therapist, and receive a prompt written reply. However, if online therapy is defined as any electronic or distance therapy, it can be traced back to the year 1953. That’s right; the Samaritans, based out of Great Britain, created the first telephone crisis helpline 30 years earlier.
Which Online Therapy Company Is Best?
People may choose their online therapist, and an online therapy company, for a variety of reasons. For many clients, availability and quick turnaround matters most. To some, quality mental health care backed by a history of proven excellence is a big factor. For others, it’s more about human connection; finding a personable, empathetic therapist that they feel comfortable talking to regularly. Thankfully, at Thriveworks, we offer all of the above and more.
Our online counseling services strive to meet the highest benchmarks of quality—our number one priority is ensuring that each client receives the highest quality care and treatment from our providers. That’s why we offer our clients a personalized treatment plan, one that will provide them with the tools and coping strategies they need to live better.
How Effective Is Online Therapy?
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.
Online therapy is the easiest and most private way to connect with a caring, qualified mental health professional at Thriveworks. Our online counseling sessions follow stringent ethical codes developed by professional organizations like the American Psychological Association (APA), as well as HIPAA. With hundreds of offices located across the United States, clients at Thriveworks can connect with a licensed mental health professional virtually—and from virtually anywhere. They can choose between HIPAA-compliant live video or phone calls. Online and phone-based services have been beneficial for clients who find that they:
- Have few qualified counselors in their area
- Feel uncomfortable meeting with a therapist in person
- Prefer to connect with a provider from a comfortable place of their choosing
If you’re seeking help from an online psychologist or online counselor, we hope our services are the right fit for you. That said, if you’re seeking a more traditional in-person therapy experience, Thriveworks offers that too.
What Mental Health Issues Can Be Addressed in Online Therapy?
There is a range of mental health issues that can be addressed in online counseling with licensed professionals. Some of the most common problems that can be resolved in online counseling include:
1) Relationship Issues
Many couples seek relationship help in online counseling. Licensed marriage and family therapists help these individuals work through common relationship challenges like intimacy issues, poor communication, and lack of trust. They might pull from the Gottman Method, which is a form of couples-based therapy and psycho-education based on the Sound Relationship House Theory.
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 of some mental health challenges. Your online psychologist or therapist will help you manage your specific symptoms and move toward recovery. They might pull techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other therapy modalities, depending on your specific needs.
3) Grief and Loss
Another unfortunate challenge that many encounters in their lifetime is the loss of a close friend or family member. A painful loss like this can have a profound effect. Fortunately, grief counselors can help these individuals through online counseling. 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
Online therapy for teens and children can offer flexibility and comfort during a client’s formative years. 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 and triggers. 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 and therapy can also help with more mild forms of serious conditions, such as some depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and more. A literary review of related studies found that online CBT, one of the most common therapeutic approaches, is just as effective as in-person therapy at treating moderate depression symptoms in clients.
Another review concluded that online CBT was equally as effective at helping clients to better manage the symptoms of panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. Online therapy is even shown to be effective in reducing problem gambling behaviors and other compulsive habits.
One of the greatest benefits of online counseling is that people who feel more comfortable addressing their concerns or conditions in the location of their choice have the option to do so. And for those who are mobility-restricted, or who follow a busy schedule, online counseling offers the freedom to prioritize their mental health needs, without having to sacrifice their obligations to work and home life.
Families who are separated by distance, partners with different lifestyles, or employees looking to access affordably-priced and convenient mental health services may also opt for online counseling services at Thriveworks. Life requires you to adapt, and our services help you stay on track. Still, you may have questions about what an online counseling session looks like, and how it works.
How Do These Live Sessions Work? The Basics of Virtual Counseling
At Thriveworks, you can connect with a licensed mental health professional by live video chat. You will use a link to connect with your provider at the agreed-upon time.
Thriveworks has been researching and providing online therapy services in some form since 2003. This is when we saw that many people who are referred by a physician to seek mental health services never receive those services. And we recognized that online therapy could serve as a solution to this problem.
As you might have guessed, the reasons people don’t receive mental health services are many. Among them is the problem that acquiring counseling services is too difficult! For instance, for a potential client to connect with a provider in person, they must:
- Call a counseling center
- Leave a message
- Be available for a return call
- Schedule an appointment by phone
- Find their insurance information
- Wait days or weeks for a first session
- Drive to that session
- Find parking
- Arrive in a presentable fashion on time or early
…all while perhaps going through a personal hardship or crisis, which makes a difficult task even harder. At Thriveworks, a goal of ours is to streamline the process of seeking help—to make all of our mental health services more readily accessible to those in need. We aspire to make the experience of seeking mental health online help a much easier and improved process. One part of that is connecting our clients with a licensed online counselor when they need it, and in that sense, offering “doctors on demand.”
Is Online Therapy Counseling Covered by Health Insurance?
A growing number of insurance plans now cover online mental health services. We’re in network with most major insurances and accept hundreds of plans. 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 mental health services are not always covered by some companies. With this in mind, we offer affordable self-pay rates to ensure that our services are still accessible to those who aren’t using insurance.
How Much Does Online Therapy Cost on Average?
When insurance covers online therapy, the out-of-pocket cost is often equal to a copay at a general physician’s office. If you’re not using insurance, you may be able to meet with a Thriveworks provider for as low as $99 a session.
We are in network with most insurance plans. If we accept your insurance, the out-of-pocket cost is typically just a copay — written on most insurance cards, that’s usually $15-$40 per session (most commonly $20). You may also owe your deductible. We’ll check your benefits for you before your first session to confirm what and how much you will owe.
The cost of online therapy also depends on how long you receive treatment, as well as the provider that you’re paired with. Research from the APA indicates that on average 15 to 20 sessions are required for 50 percent of patients to recover, based on self-reported symptom measures. Transparency is a must—and complete remission is not always possible for some severe mental health conditions. But even in situations where the condition is not curable, and is instead manageable, attending online counseling with the help of a virtual therapist can still help improve a client’s quality of life and long-term well-being.
Can You Talk to a Therapist for Free Online?
Thriveworks does not offer free online counseling services—but our providers are in network with most insurance companies, and our billing and insurance support specialists are standing by to answer any questions you may have. Though online therapy at Thriveworks isn’t free of cost, you may discover that your insurance can cover a significant portion of your session costs. Reach out to us to gain details and insight into the pricing and affordability of online therapy.
Is There Online Counseling Near Me?
If you’re searching for exceptional online therapy services, Thriveworks is here for you. Our online providers are across the US and can meet with clients quickly over secure, HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing software. New clients often meet their provider via video within 3-5 days of scheduling, sometimes even sooner.
Thriveworks understands the importance of finding a board-certified provider who has availability. For this reason, we do not operate with a waitlist. Instead, we schedule individuals with their first appointment immediately upon their call. Additionally, we offer benefits that can’t be beat — here’s how we stack up against other counseling services:
- No Waitlists: Average wait times for mental health care can be three weeks or more. At Thriveworks, new clients can often meet with their provider within 3-5 days of scheduling.
- Only Top Providers: The search for an exceptional provider can be discouraging. We hire only the top 4% of providers to join our team and provide the very best care to our clients.
- Full 50-60 Minute Sessions: Others hide how long your session is, and it’s often only 20-30 minutes. We offer full 50-60 minute sessions for an initial intake evaluation.
- Affordable Rates: Most counseling practices don’t take health insurance and have expensive rates, starting at $250 a session. We accept hundreds of insurance plans and offer affordable out-of-pocket rates as low as $99 a session.
- Evening and Weekend Appointments: Finding a convenient time to get mental health care is a challenge. We offer options that work with busy schedules like evening and weekend appointments.
- High-Touch Support: On-the-spot support is hard to come by. Our support team is available 7 days a week including holidays, and your provider is available between sessions by phone or email.
- Flexible Cancellations: Life happens, we get it. We have a flexible cancellation policy that lets you cancel or reschedule your session for free with just 23.5 hours’ notice.
- Real, Lasting Relationships: Many counseling services aren't practices but loosely affiliated directories of therapists. We have a full-time, dedicated team who build long-standing careers here and lasting relationships with clients.
You are not alone. If you have mental health concerns or feel you need some support, consider booking an online appointment at Thriveworks. If you think you could personally benefit from talking to a counselor, we are at your service.