Online therapy has become quite the rage over the traditional methods of therapy. Choosing an online therapy provider, however, is as difficult as choosing a therapist in real life. Some of the factors to consider while choosing the right fit are the compatibility, cost-effectiveness, and the area of expertise of the provider.
What is online therapy?
Online therapy, also known as e-therapy or virtual counseling, is a branch of telemedicine that provides mental health counseling over the internet. It allows people to get help from wherever as far as they have an internet connection and a computer or a phone. It has various other benefits over the traditional method of therapy, face-to-face such as availability and affordability.
Online therapy has been gaining momentum in recent years but never really became a big part of the field. However, there has been a recent wave in the growth of online therapy, especially due to the Coronavirus pandemic that has resulted in a worldwide lockdown. With people not being able to go to their therapist’s offices, online therapy became a great alternative.
Benefits of online therapy
Online therapy or virtual therapy is not widely accepted by people because most people believe it to be a scam run by non-professionals. They believe that it can cause more harm than good. But when looking into the field of online therapy and the online providers, one may realize that these fears are unfounded and that these websites pose no threat.
Online therapy is a convenient and flexible form of therapy that provides patients with the benefits of counseling while saving them commuting time. Moreover, online therapy removes the vulnerability factor and allows patients to be in their own surroundings and comfort zone which helps them talk freely and with full disclosure.
Another misconception that people have about online therapy is that it may be too clinical and a proper rapport may not be formed. This is a possibility but it is not because the therapy session is being conducted over the internet. In fact, this is mostly due to the incompatibility between the patient and the therapy provider. This incompatibility can occur with both, online therapy and traditional therapy.
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One thing to keep in mind about both, virtual therapy and traditional therapy is that neither of them is perfect. Both of them may come with difficulties, almost all of which can be solved by choosing the right therapist or therapy provider for the patient.
Patient-Doctor compatibility is so important that changing therapists is often recommended if a person is not comfortable with their therapist or is not seeing any results. To avoid the need to change therapists and therapy providers, there are a few things to consider before even booking the first session. This is especially important in the field of online therapy and counseling.
What to look for in an online therapy provider?
An online therapy provider is a licensed psychotherapist who provides services through the internet in the form of emails, chat messages, video, and audio calls. Finding the right online therapy provider is crucial for the mental health of the person. Some of the most important factors to keep in mind when choosing an online health provider are mentioned below.
The effectiveness of the online therapy provider
Before booking a session with a licensed psychotherapist, looking them up online and going through their website may be very helpful in analyzing if they are the right choice or not. The testimonials on a therapist’s websites along with the structure of the website act like a window that shows the real effectiveness of the therapist.
A good therapy-provider doesn’t need a flashy website that is full of ads. That may be a red flag while choosing an online therapy provider. Another way to assess their effectiveness is to talk to your friends and family for their suggestions. Any reviews from them are guaranteed to be real and more in detail than most testimonials online.
An important note here is that not everything we see online is real and some of the bad reviews may not be true. A way to actually evaluate the effectiveness and assess compatibility would be to have a conversation with the therapy provider before a session.
Moreover, conversing with the therapist, especially if online, gives the person an idea of the user interface and any technical difficulties that may be present during the actual session. This is a definite way of testing if online therapy is the right choice or not.
Online therapy providers’ areas of specialization and experience
Online therapy has many benefits but one of the disadvantages is that it is not suitable for all mental health issues. Most of the severe mental health issues cannot be dealt with using online therapy. This is an especially important point to keep in mind when choosing an online therapy provider.
The limits of online therapy may be exaggerated by an inexperienced therapist and result in either no results or negative results. When choosing a psychotherapist for online counseling, it is best to choose licensed professionals with at least a couple of years of experience.
Moreover, the online therapy provider must be well-equipped and have the same area of expertise as the patient’s problems, to counsel and treat the patient properly.
Confidentiality and Security
Telemedicine, just like traditional medicine, is governed by the HIPPA laws, and online therapy providers are obligated to follow them just as much as a traditional therapist. Online testimonials and reviews, along with the friends’ and families’ reviews may save a person from choosing a therapist that violates the confidentiality rules.
Cost-effectiveness and Insurance
Before choosing any specific online therapy providers, it is best to compare and analyze the pricing of different providers. After taking into consideration the factors mentioned above, it is important to create a shortlist of online therapy providers and then compare their prices. Sometimes, they may have discounts or membership packages that one may be interested in. It is best to be bound by a membership contract after analyzing compatibility with an online therapy provider.
It is also important to check if the specific therapy provider and their services are covered by a person’s insurance plan. All of this helps people not become burdened by the financial costs of the therapy providers.
In general, online therapy and online therapy providers have the tools to help people in the comfort of their own home as far as the right therapy provider has been chosen and the patient has articulated their needs clearly. Candid honesty on both parts is important if any results are to be seen.
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