With all of the media about mental health, it has become a major topic in the United States in the past decade or so. Not just because of the bad things that have happened due to mental illness but because of the easier and more effective ways to get mental health care. We have gone from traditional face to face visits in a brick and mortar office telling a stranger all about our issues for a full hour of their choosing to spending a few minutes getting to know a new therapist online and then talking to them as often as we want for a few minutes to several hours whenever we need to.
Yesterday’s Talk Therapy
Traditional mental health care involves finding a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, or counselor in your area, doing research about them and getting a referral, setting an appointment, and then finding the time to spend an hour in the middle of your workday talking to them. Most often, the first visit is just a “getting to know you” type of visit and you have basically just spent an hour (and approximately $250) just meeting your new doctor who you may or may not decide to come back to. Once that hour is over and you still feel stressed out, which may or may not make you want to quit therapy right then, you have to set another one-hour appointment in the future. Sometimes not for another month or two. There is a general lack of mental health care so every one of them is busy. Getting a physical appointment can be tough. And expensive. And inconvenient.
The New Way to Talk Therapy
Nowadays; however, we can choose online therapy where you can just click on a link and answer a few questions, then they will match you up with a therapist they believe is best for you. This therapist or counselor will contact you online by email, instant messaging, texting, or even video chatting, however you want to do it. And you do not need an appointment ever. Because the therapist is going to answer you when they can, and they do not have to put a whole hour aside to meet with you. This is more convenient for both of you and you get the benefit of being able to contact them when you are in the middle of a crisis or just want to talk. You do not have to wait a week or a month to get an appointment, by which time you may have already forgotten what the crisis was at the time.
However, online therapy is not just good for that reason. There are many benefits to online counseling. The cost is one of these important factors. We all know that mental health care can be expensive and that many health insurance policies do not cover treatment. In fact, the average cost of one therapy appointment is between $200 and $300. This is for about an hour (typically ends up being about 45 minutes) of face to face time with your therapist. For instance online therapy through BetterHelp.com costs approximately $40 to $70 per week and you can talk to your therapist anytime, day or night, for as long as you want. Why is it so much cheaper online? The costs are lower for the therapist because they do not have to pay for an office, the upkeep of the office, employees, and transportation. They can also see as many patients as they want every day since they are not having to see each one for an hour straight. They can answer when they have time and continue to communicate with all of their clients as needed.
Easier for People with Depression
Not only is it easier on your bank account, it is easier on your mental status as well. Consider someone with depression. Many who are suffering from this disease have trouble getting out of bed sometimes, let alone getting up and taking a shower, getting dressed, and going to see a therapist. By the time they get an appointment they may be in such bad shape that they cannot get there at all. With online therapy, you can talk to your counselor online anytime you want and do not even have to get out of bed. And your therapist can check in on you if they have not heard from you in a while. Getting a text or instant message from your therapist really helps you build a relationship because you know they actually care and are thinking about you.
The disease itself can be the reason why a person does not get the help they need. Some of the main symptoms of social anxiety include not being able to talk to people, fear of going out in public, and not being able to be around crowds. So, if you have social anxiety, going to a therapist’s office and talking to them about your problems is not going to be easy. In fact, form many it is actually impossible. With online therapy you can text or send messages to your therapist and you do not have to see anyone. Being able to write about your problems is so much easier than talking about them, which is what makes keeping a journal so therapeutic.
Too Much Stress to Go Out
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, causes some serious issues with going out in public as well. As a matter of fact, those with PTSD can have an anxiety attack just going to the grocery store. How can they possibly feel comfortable going to see a therapist and talking to them about their problems? Just like with social anxiety and depression, being able to converse with a therapist online through texting, email, or instant messaging is so much easier for them. It can really be a life saver for those who are unable to go out at all.
No Need for Transportation
Another benefit of online therapy is that you do not have to figure out how to get there. Many people live in rural areas and do not have access to a vehicle or public transportation. If you live more than an hour from your therapist and do not have a vehicle, how are you supposed to get to your appointment? Taking a cab would be outrageously expensive. Nowadays with Uber or Lyft, it can be a bit less expensive but still quite costly. Even if you do have a vehicle and have to drive over an hour there and back, that is expensive on its own just for gas. Not to mention the two hours of drive time that you have to take off work. Online therapy takes the worry of transportation out of the equation so that is one less thing to stress over.
Embarrassment and Stigma
Unfortunately, there is still so much stigma around mental health issues that people are still embarrassed to let people know they are seeing a therapist. In fact, they may not even want to go because they are worried their employer will find out. Especially if they use their employee insurance to help pay for it (if it does). Being able to talk to your therapist from the privacy of your own home takes that worry away. Nobody has to know you are talking to a therapist unless you want them to. Actually, you do not even have to use your real name when talking to the therapist so it can be completely anonymous.
Having to wait weeks or months to see your therapist about something that is bothering you now is almost pointless in some cases. You may not even be worrying about that issue anymore by the time the appointment rolls around. Things may have gotten better or worse, making therapy the wrong choice for you by then. For example, what if you are really stressed out about an argument you had with someone or you are sad about something that happened to you? Would it be better to be able to talk to someone about it now or would it be more beneficial to wait until next month? Of course, it is better to talk about it when it is bothering you.
Home Turf is Important
Truth be told, everyone feels better in their own home, right? You feel more comfortable in your own environment than in some stranger’s home or office no matter how mentally well-adjusted you are. So, being able to talk to your therapist from the comfort of your home is infinitely better for anyone. If you are having issues with anxiety, depression, or any type of mental disorder, online therapy can help you. Without the hassle of finding a therapist in your area, setting an appointment, and then finding the time and transportation of getting there. No need to worry about who may see you or struggling to talk about your feelings or emotions. Actually, texting, instant messaging or even emailing your therapist about your feelings can be just as therapeutic as the therapy itself.