Jourdan Travers, LCSW, discusses online therapy and whether or not it is right for you.
By Jourdan Travers, LCSW | December 22, 2021
Have you ever thought about online therapy, but you weren't sure if it was the right option for you? Well, stay tuned, because that's what I'll discuss in this article: the benefits AND challenges of online therapy, who online therapy is best suited for, what you can expect from an online therapist and therapy session, and how to determine if it's the right fit for you.
Before I begin, let me do a quick introduction. I'm Jourdan Travers, a licensed clinical psychotherapist and the Clinical Director of Awake Therapy. If you're interested in learning more about me and the Awake Therapy team, you can click here to learn more about us or book an initial consultation.
Okay, so let's jump right into it.
Online therapy is just what it sounds like — it's accessing therapeutic services online through your phone or computer with a private practice therapist or with a therapy platform. And it has become incredibly popular since the Covid-19 pandemic. Here are some of the reasons why.
Benefits of online therapy
- It's convenient! It allows patients to book a session and speak to a therapist without having to worry about getting in the car, navigating traffic, and rushing to and from a location.
- It's cheaper than seeing a therapist in person (at least it should be!).
- It's easier to access if you live in an area with limited therapeutic resources, or if there's a waiting list to be seen by a therapeutic provider.
- Many patients report an increased feeling of safety being able to speak to their therapist in the comfort of their home or office versus an unknown space.
- Research to date has shown it to be just as effective as traditional therapy.
However, online therapy might not be the right fit for you. Here are some of the reasons why online therapy may not be the right fit.
Downsides of online therapy
- It is not the best mode of treatment for high-acuity patients or people who have difficulty managing their mental health symptoms without a team and resources in place.
- It is not ideal for patients with a history of self-harming behaviors as the therapist is limited in how he or she can respond to a crisis situation.
- If you're actively psychotic or have a history of experiencing hallucinations, paranoia, or delusions, online therapy is likely not the best fit.
- It may not be the best option if you have an unstable internet connection or if you aren't comfortable with technology.
- Sometimes it is not the best option if you're looking for therapy to be covered by insurance, because not all insurance companies will cover online therapy services or accept a reimbursement bill from an out-of-network provider.
If you decide online therapy is right for you, what next?
You might be wondering how you can make the most of an online therapy experience. Well, whether you've tried therapy before or you are courageously booking your first session, here are some tips to keep in mind to make it a positive experience.
- Schedule and plan for therapy accordingly. You don't want to be interrupted or have the desire to simultaneously multi-task.
- Recognize that things might feel weird or awkward at first, which is normal. The first session or two is getting to know your therapist and establishing rapport, which is what you would do in a traditional therapeutic setting. My clinical recommendation for all new clients is to give it a fair shot, which is one session per week for approximately 4-6 weeks, and then to reassess at that time. Starting therapy isn't a life sentence, but you have to give yourself time to develop a therapeutic relationship with your provider. Remember, we all have things we can work on as individuals and online therapy is a great place to do it.
Which online therapy platform is best?
The best way to tell if online therapy is right for you is to give it a try! It's safe, convenient, private, and naturally socially distanced. But how do you know which platform and provider are right for you?
That depends, but I'll give you my personal opinion on the matter. Keep in mind that this is a biased perspective as I am the Clinical Director at Awake Therapy. First, I would say that there's rarely a reason to spend more than $100 per session. If your online therapy sessions are costing more than that, you might want to find a more affordable service. That said, a great therapist is worth his or her weight in gold, so it's also important to view therapy as an investment in yourself that pays dividends in many ways — through better relationships with friends and family, less anxiety, more happiness, and more psychological flourishing.
The other thing I would mention is to avoid using a platform that locks you into a monthly or annual membership. It's better to find a service that offers a single-pay option. Why? It has to do with the way mental healthcare is best delivered. I've found in my clinical experience that clients' mental health needs come in waves. For instance, I might have a client who is having a really difficult week and needs to have 2 or 3 sessions with me in a given 7-day period. Then, things might subside and I don't hear from the client for a couple of months. This is very common, which is why we, at Awake Therapy, advocate for a pay-as-you-go approach. We charge $40 per half-hour session and $80 per hour session with no recurring payments, and you can book as much or as little in a given time period as you'd like. This is something to keep an eye out for when identifying the best mental healthcare service for you.
I hope you found this article informative. As always, remember that the content of these articles is for psycho-educational purposes only and is not meant to serve as a replacement for individualized therapy. If you are in need of mental health assistance to address an existing issue or to create a more prosperous and fulfilling life, you can schedule an appointment by following the links below.