When it comes to improving mental health, breaking any barrier that hinders your ability to attend a counseling session is critical.
We can shop, buy groceries, book cabs, make reservations, and more online. Our world has quickly turned digital, and this shift isn’t surprising at all.
More than ever, people want convenience at their fingertips. Not because we’re unmotivated, but because we seem to crave efficiency and ease in our daily lives. Furthermore, this digital trend has also taken the healthcare industry by storm with growth in services, like online therapy.
What is online therapy?
Also known as teletherapy or e-counseling, online therapy is when a person receives therapy via the web. They meet with a counselor through a chosen communication method, such as video, audio, or text, for a counseling session.
In terms of efficacy, online therapy can be as helpful as in-person appointments, but it depends heavily on what method of interaction a person responds best to.
Furthermore, online therapy can happen in real-time or time-delayed formats. Real-time examples of remote therapy include video, text messages, or phone conferences. Email would be an example of a time-delayed format.
While there might be some limitations to online therapy, the convenient accessibility it provides to a wide range of people is unbeatable.
Different formats of online therapy:
In general, the most common formats for therapy online include:
- Mobile applications
- Real-time instant messaging
- Audio or telephone conferencing
- Text-based messaging
- Video conferencing (Zoom, Skype, Google Meets, etc.)
A mental healthcare provider, practice, or telehealth care application can offer the above services.
Are online therapists qualified?
The correct credentials and licensing are required to work as a therapist, whether in a remote or in-person capacity. While some online platforms promise to fast-track the path to becoming a remote therapist, becoming an online counselor requires the proper education and training to be properly qualified.
However, one drawback is that online therapy isn’t the easiest to regulate. This regulation issue is why it’s essential that one research teletherapy platforms before committing.
Many online healthcare applications, such as Ravkoo Health, take stringent measures to ensure their mental health counselors are properly licensed, educated, and vetted.
Moreover, the Director of Behavioral Health at Ravkoo, Travis Pantiel (LMHC, MCAP, CCTP, NCC), works closely with the app’s mental health module, Ravkoo Lifestyle. He ensures that the counselors are correctly interviewed, verified, educated, licensed, and supported. His overall goal is to make sure both the therapists and the app’s valued registered users have a high-quality experience and safe space to practice and receive mental healthcare.
What are the ethics of online counseling?
The APA (American Psychological Association) has a useful set of ethics regarding online therapy. The below guidelines offer a framework of standards to ensure an ethical online therapy experience.
Therapists working online should:
- Follow all relevant regulations and laws.
- Practice within their scope.
- Utilize training, support, and supervision.
- Have a decent understanding of technology.
What areas can online therapy help in?
Here’s a list of what online therapy can address:
- Relationship issues
- Family issues
- Stress management
- Anger management
- Traumatic experience counseling
- Substance use
- Grief and loss
- Chronic medical conditions
- Eating behaviors
- Sleep issues
- Mood fluctuations
- LGBT+ knowledge and issues
Not all online therapy healthy platforms are created equal. Some offer a wide range of services, while others offer a less diverse scope. The Ravkoo Health App’s Lifestyle module and its fully licensed and vetted counselors address all the above issues and adhere to them.
Furthermore, “All our therapists are licensed professionals trained to work with various behavioral health concerns,” explains Pantiel.
All of Ravkoo’s counseling services at this time are focused through synchronous telehealth services (video), as it provides the most researched and evidence based form of therapy, outside of traditional brick and mortar applications.
Also, “Registered users will have the ability to engage in chat conversations with their providers as needed between sessions,” says Pantiel.
While online counseling is helpful for many instances, it’s not ideal for those requiring direct, in-person intervention and treatment.
What are the benefits of online therapy?
Think about online banking. With your bank’s app downloaded to your phone, you can access many services that once required an in-person visit. Just because the transactions are completed online doesn’t mean they are any less effective.
While online therapy isn’t the same as banking, remote counseling does offer convenience and easy use for many people because it’s accessible from home.
Below are some benefits of online therapy:
1. Privacy: Does the thought of attending an in-person appointment fill you with dread?
While going to counseling is absolutely worth commending, it doesn’t mean you want to stop and chat with a neighbor before entering a session. Furthermore, some people prefer to share details of their life while being in a more comfortable and familiar setting, like their home. Online therapy allows you to book and attend your counseling appointment anywhere you feel at ease (as long as you have your device and an internet connection).
Furthermore, a quality online therapy platform will ensure that your digital health records
associated with your online sessions are protected and secured through HIPAA
compliance and encryption.
2. Accessibility: When it comes to an in-office therapy appointment, many barriers can get in the way. Some barriers include:
- Lack of vehicle or transportation
- Mobility issues
- Time constraints
- Scheduling constraints
With online counseling, the above barriers no longer apply, and most can conveniently
attend their e-therapy appointment. You will need to ensure your internet connection is
stable, your chosen the device is properly functioning and charged, and you have a quiet
space for the appointment.
3. Cost-effective: Therapy offices cost a lot of money to run. There’s rent, cleaning, monthly bills, renovations, and more to keep a brick-and-mortar office in good working condition. Moreover, these costs can make a therapy appointment more expensive. However, with online counseling, fewer overhead costs come into play, making sessions less expensive.
Also, people can select an online platform that offers them mental healthcare
appointments that fit their budget. Ravkoo Lifestyle, for instance serves as a digital marketplace where members can sift through different therapists to learn about their ratings, qualifications, areas of expertise, and pay-per-visit cost.
4. Convenience: You shouldn’t have to sacrifice time, sleep, or give up something from your schedule to drive and attend an in-person therapy appointment. Instead, online counseling allows you to freely book appointments and attend them remotely at your convenience.
Also, it takes a certain vulnerability to open up to a counselor. Online counseling removes the hurdles associated with in-person appointments, such as opening up face-to-face and time constraints. If you’re confronting about a deeply personal topic, it only makes sense that you’d feel more comfortable doing so from the privacy of a home office.
Some other benefits of online counseling include:
- Physical distancing for those concerned.
- Unique insights as your online therapist may better understand you based on your home environment.
Bottom line: If you’re looking into online therapy as an option, read up on the services offered by different providers and platforms.
You might consider downloading the Ravkoo Health App for access to its Lifestyle platform, which brings many unique advantages that set it apart, such as:
- Access to many specialists that can work together to create a full plan of action for someone’s health.
- Behavioral health providers help direct registered users seeking care for medical or Lifestyle issues through the same platform.
- Access and storage of health records to complement their current clinical goals in therapy.
- Access to current health information through blogs.
“Alongside our plans for even more supportive healthcare therapy services, we will help make access to integrative care as simple as it has ever been,” says Pantiel.
Is online therapy effective?
Studies show that remote counseling options are just as effective as in-office sessions. Furthermore, a study review shows that online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is more productive than in-person CBT when it comes to reducing symptoms of depression.
While online counseling can present unique challenges, such as technology issues, many people seeking this form of mental healthcare find they’re greatly satisfied with it.
How to begin online therapy?
If you’re considering online therapy, here are a few points to consider:
- Do you prefer to schedule and pay for your counseling sessions on a need-be basis? Or would you rather have a subscription that allows for unlimited messaging?
- Do you have health insurance that covers your therapy costs? If so, will your chosen provider accept it? If not, find an online counseling service within your budget.
- Can you select your therapist, or is a therapist chosen for you?
- What’s your communication preference?
When it comes to improving mental health, breaking any barrier that hinders your ability to attend a counseling session is critical. Just be sure to do your homework. Figure out what you’re looking for in a counseling session. Understand how you communicate best, and seek an online solution that fits your needs, comfort, and budget.
Furthermore, consider talking with your doctor to see if online counseling is a suitable fit for you. A family doctor, or a physician you’ve had numerous visits with, will know your mental wellness and physical health history so they can work with you to find the right online mental healthcare provider to work with.