If you’ve been exploring your options for therapy, you may have run across quite a few “telecounseling” companies that offer online therapy sessions via video, voice, and even text chat.
Telecounseling is convenient, so it’s especially appealing to busy people who or are too busy to see a therapist in-person.
But does telecounseling really work? In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know.
The Basics Of Telecounseling – How It Works
There are a number of different online therapy platforms, and they’re all a bit different. But you don’t have to turn to large startups for telecounseling and therapy. A lot of independent therapists also offer telecounseling through Skype and other online video chat platforms. In fact, it’s a great idea to check with therapists that are local to you to see if they have remote counseling options.
Telecounseling works in the same basic way that therapy works.
You’ll connect with a therapist, and have regular sessions – usually over video chat – to discuss your mental health, the struggles you’re experiencing, and anything else you would talk about with a therapist in person.
Depending on the therapist or company you’re using, they may also offer text-based messaging so that you can contact your therapist outside of your regular sessions and discuss your experiences with them.
Is Telecounseling As Helpful As In-Person Therapy? Studying The Benefits
So, is telecounseling as helpful as in-person therapy?
One study showed that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for bulimia nervosa that was done over video chat (Skype) was just as effective as CBT that was delivered in person.
Another study in 2014 showed that, in teens with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), counseling over the phone was just as effective as in-person counseling. However, the sample size for this study was quite small.
Further, a study done in South Carolina found that veterans suffering from PTSD who received treatment via videoconferencing had similar positive outcomes, compared to those who got treatment in person.
For now, the results seem to indicate that telecounseling can be just as effective as in-person therapy. However, this depends on your mental health, your personal situation, and your preferences for care.
Also, telecounseling is a very good option for anyone who is already seeing a therapist in-person, but cannot make every appointment in-person.
What Should I Think About Before I Choose Telecounseling?
If you are thinking about telecounseling or teletherapy, there are a few things you should keep in mind before you make your decision.
Find a licensed therapist – First and foremost, you will need to make sure that your therapist is fully licensed in your state. Just because you’ll be getting therapy online doesn’t mean that you should settle for anything less than a fully-certified, licensed professional therapist. Consider the qualifications of your therapist while you’re thinking about telecounseling.
Consider your health insurance – In-person therapy is almost always covered by health insurance for mental health disorders, substance abuse, and other such mental health conditions. Your insurance will typically pay for most or all of your treatment. In contrast, telecounseling and teletherapy are not covered by most insurance companies yet. You may have to pay the full cost yourself. Check with your insurance company to see if they cover telecounseling. If not, it could actually be cheaper to see a therapist in-person.
Think about your personal preferences – Do you feel like you can really open up and discuss your emotions and your life with a therapist online via video chat? If you feel comfortable doing so, telecounseling may be right for you. But in a lot of cases, it’s easier to truly open up in person. It may be worth trying both telecounseling and in-person therapy to see which one will be a better fit for your needs.
Just like in-person therapy, it’s very important to choose a therapist who can work with you to address your specific mental health issues and who understands your lived experience. So do your research, and make sure you work with a qualified professional.
Telecounseling Can Work – But It Might Not Be Right For Everyone!
Telecounseling does seem to hold a lot of promise, particularly for patients who have trouble making the time to see a therapist in person. In the future, it’s likely that this industry will continue to grow, along with other areas of telemedicine.
But if you’re thinking about trying out telecounseling, but you haven’t yet seen a therapist in person, we would recommend doing so before you start exploring your options for online therapy.
At Dr. Quintal & Associates, we offer free therapy consultations in Lakewood Ranch, FL, and we’d be happy to meet with you and provide you with the counseling and therapy you need. Get started now, and see how we can help.