Online Counseling and Therapy Services
What Is Online Therapy?
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.
Today, we might think of online therapy as HIPAA-compliant live video. In reality, it is a broad category that includes live video, phone calls, and live chat sessions. 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.”
Today, on this website, we acknowledge online therapy as an effective, medically reviewed option for mental health treatment. Thriveworks offers online mental health therapy and connects clients to skilled, licensed mental health professionals.
Is Online Counseling Effective? How Can It Help Me?
Online therapy is often seen as the “new way” to connect with a caring, qualified mental health professional.
On the contrary, online counseling services have been around in some form for more than 60 years! The field has a long and rich history thanks to both skilled providers and researchers.
Today, ethical codes or statements have been thoroughly developed by professional organizations like the American Psychological Association (APA). These ethical guidelines aren’t new—they too have been around for more than a decade.
Thriveworks is a trusted brand of counseling and coaching services with more than 150 offices across the United States. Now, in online therapy at Thriveworks, clients can connect with a licensed mental health professional virtually. They can choose between HIPAA-compliant live video or phone call.
Some may prefer a face to face session with a licensed therapist. However, there are decades of research that show counseling online can be effective.
In fact, online and phone-based services have been especially helpful for clients who find that they:
1) Have few qualified counselors or coaches in their area
2) Feel uncomfortable meeting with a therapist in person
3) Prefer to connect with a provider from the comfort of their home (or office)
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. For example:
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 therapy 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.
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 therapies, depending on your 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, grief counselors can help these individuals in 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
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.
How Do These Live Sessions Work? The Basics of Virtual Counselling
You can connect with a licensed mental health professional by either phone call or live video chat—these two options are called telephone counseling and video counseling.
If you choose to attend your appointment over the phone, your online psychologist or therapist will call you at the agreed-upon time. If you choose online video therapy instead, you will use a link to connect with your provider at the agreed-upon time instead. In this instance, your provider will also have your phone number as a backup. This will come in handy if there are any unforeseen technical problems during the live video session.
Our team at 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
- Arrive in a presentable fashion on time or early
…all while perhaps going through a personal hardship or crisis.
We aspire to make the experience of seeking mental health online help, either through counseling or coaching, a much easier and improved process. One part of that is connecting our clients with a licensed counselor when they need it, and in that sense, offering “doctors on demand.”
Is Online Therapy Counseling Covered by Health Insurance?
Thriveworks offers affordable online therapy. Fortunately, a growing number of insurance companies and health plans are paying for therapy services provided at a distance. In addition, we offer self-pay rates that are affordable, too.
When insurance covers online therapy, the out-of-pocket cost is often equal to a copay at a general physician’s office. 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 affordable self-pay rates to ensure that our services are accessible to those who aren’t using insurance.