I have been attending therapy for over three years. At first, the thought of verbally expressing my thoughts, concerns, and emotions to a stranger seemed impossible. However, the fear and angst I felt regarding in-person therapy turned into hopefulness and optimism. I genuinely looked forward to attending each session because I knew there was time set aside in my day where I could work through my mental health issues in a positive and inspiring way.
Like every other facet of life, going to in-person therapy was disrupted by the outbreak of COVID-19. As lockdown and quarantine measures were being put into place, I knew that there were troubling feelings I had that I wanted to address with a trusted professional. Beyond that, the unknowns surrounding COVID-19 left me feeling very anxious about going to an in-person therapy session. Based on my circumstances, I felt that it was time to give telemental health services a try.
When individuals use telemental health services, they are receiving help and treatment from a trusted professional through the use of different types of technology. Examples of this form of treatment include having a session over the phone or receiving worksheets from your counselor through an app. Sessions and treatment recommendations are all handled virtually instead of a person going to a physical office to seek assistance.
While “virtual therapy” may seem peculiar, there are many benefits from utilizing telemental health services. There are different considerations that individuals need to think about as well when looking into telemental health services. Thankfully, there are many options for people to look into if they are considering giving telemental health treatments a try. With all the different options available, individuals have the potential to find a virtual therapy service that would be perfect for them and their individual needs.
Benefits of Using Telemental Health Services
One of the biggest advantages of telemental health services is how easy and convenient they are to use. Different apps, such as TalkSpace and BetterHelp, allow you to schedule sessions and interact with your therapist by simply clicking a few buttons. These apps are straightforward and allow people to easily choose the method of therapy that would be most beneficial for them. Beyond that, many apps have options for receiving technical support should you run into an issue.
Relying on technology for the act of communicating is another strength of telemental health services. With the amount of technology available in today’s world, many people have grown accustomed to interacting through virtual platforms. Based on how often individuals have to use technology to communicate with one another, many folks may find it easier than they imagine to express their thoughts over a phone call or an hour-long chat. Additionally, different types of people, particularly those who struggle with anxiety, have an easier time expressing themselves virtually than in-person. These people can pay less attention to the faces they make or the clothes they wear while paying more attention to communicating their needs.
Another benefit of online therapy is its ability to reach people in their own environments. A person having a therapy session via phone call does not have to get dressed and drive across town to connect with a counselor. People can receive needed emotional support while snuggling under a blanket in their pajamas. Having accessible mental health support can be particularly important for individuals who live in rural areas or areas where no health care provider is nearby. Telemental health services remove barriers relating to distance and comfort by letting people participate in therapy in a setting that feels comfortable, familiar, and safe.
Considerations for Using Telemental Health Services
While telemental health services have many benefits, other important factors should be considered before a person commits to online therapy. The biggest is understanding who you are interacting with. Upon learning the identity of your online therapist, make sure that the therapist is a licensed professional. Find out whether your therapist is licensed to practice in the state where you reside. Knowing this ensures that you are getting help from a qualified professional and helps protect you legally should the need arise.
It is also important to know what kind of security measures different apps have in place. This helps protect your privacy and personal identity. Additionally, not all online therapy services allow individuals to use insurance. Some services, such as TalkSpace, do pair with health insurance companies. Other apps, such as BetterHelp and Pride Counseling, enable individuals to apply for financial aid. Knowing your financial situation and the cost associated with each app will help you make an informed, well-rounded decision on which service would suit you best.
Different Resources for Telemental Health Services
Highlighted below are different apps and websites that people can use to receive online therapy. It is important to note that this list is not exhaustive and that there could be other apps or websites out there for people to use:
- TalkSpace: Counseling for individuals, couples, teens, and businesses
- BetterHelp: Counseling for individuals, couples, and teens
- Pride Counseling: Counseling for individuals belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community
- Teen Counseling: Counseling for teenagers
- Regain: Counseling for individuals in romantic relationships (joint and individual sessions are provided).
- Faithful Counseling: Counseling for individuals who practice Christianity
- Anaya: Counseling for individuals who belong to a marginalized community
- LiveHealthOnline: Online service that offers therapy for individuals
- Inpathy: Online service that offers therapy for individuals
- Online-Therapy.com: An online therapy service that relies on cognitive-based therapy (e.g., CBT) methods to treat patients
Telemental health services can be an effective method for people to use, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Participating in online therapy allows people to receive important emotional support via easy to use apps and websites. Different factors should be considered before committing to online therapy, such as the credentials of the therapist and the cost involved. However, if you are able to find a service that suits your needs, you can reap many benefits, emotionally and mentally. An online format for therapy does not diminish or undervalue the kind of emotional work you can engage in if you are willing to give virtual therapy an honest try.
Author Bio: Matthew Morgan is a mental health enthusiast. In addition to speaking about mental health, he enjoys writing, video editing, exercising, and binge-watching shows and movies. Matthew’s personal mental health blog can be found at this link: https://mattsmishaps.wordpress.com/blog/
Barton, J. (2019, December 20). This App Matches People of Color with a Therapist Who Shares a Similar Background. Black Enterprise. https://www.blackenterprise.com/app-matches-people-color-therapist-similar-background/
Silver, E. (2020, July 1). The Best Therapy Apps of 2020. eCounseling.com. https://www.e-counseling.com/therapy-apps/
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