How to Choose the Best Online Counselor:
7 Key Facts to Consider
More than 50 million people in the United States have some type of mental illness. There are millions more who could be suffering since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even though there is a stigma around mental health, you shouldn’t let that stop you from getting the help you need to heal.
There are more services that offer counseling online. These services can help you work through your issues and find the peace you’re searching for.
Online therapy raises more questions than answers. Is it right for you? How do you find an online counselor?
Keep reading to learn more about online counseling and find out how to find an online counselor to work with.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Therapy
How does online therapy differ from in-person treatment? It really doesn’t. You still talk with your counselor to address mental health issues. The big difference is that you talk online rather than in-person.
Online counseling offers convenience because you don’t have to travel to their office and fight for a parking spot. These treatments are also more affordable because therapists don’t have the overhead of an office.
There are some downsides to online therapy. Some mental health issues should be treated in-person. There are also some nuances in body language that therapists rely on to help you find your way through an issue.
These minute details can get missed through video, especially if your setup has poor lighting or your camera doesn’t work that well.
Finding an Online Counselor
Now that you know more about the differences between in-person and online counseling, you can find the right online counselor for you. These steps will walk you through the process to find a good online counselor.
1. What Do You Need Help With?
The first thing you need to figure out is what you want to accomplish through counseling. Do you feel anxious around certain times of the year? Are you lonely and isolated? Do you feel depressed?
These things can be addressed by an online counselor. There may be underlying issues that you’re not aware of. You want to get a clear picture of what you want to work on or improve in your life.
2. Get Referrals from Your Doctor
One of the best ways to find an online counselor is to have a conversation with your primary physician. They can connect you to someone in their network.
There are also third-party sites that connect you with an online counselor. These services can take out a lot of the legwork of finding an online counselor, but many don’t offer in-person options as well.
3. Online and In-Person Options
There may be a time when you feel ready to venture out of the house. As you resume normal activities again, you may want to see your counselor in-person.
If you think that's a possibility, then you want to find someone that offers online counselling and in-person sessions.
4. Accept Insurance Plans
Be sure to ask your insurance company if they accept claims for online counseling. Not all insurance plans do or only allow online counseling if you see a counselor in their network.
Ideally, you want to work with a counselor that accepts your insurance plan. If not, then you’re going to have to pay out of pocket. Some counselors are willing to work with you, but you need to be proactive and have that conversation before you start treatment.
5. Treatment Plans
There are a variety of methods counselors use to treat patients. Some of the most common are cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and interpersonal therapy.
Ask the counselor what their preferred method of treatment is and why. A good online counselor will use a combination of these and other methods according to the situation.
A therapist may use cognitive behavioral therapy for depression and negative thoughts. For someone that has relationship issues, they may use interpersonal therapy.
6. Talk Before Committing
Working with a counselor is a very personal experience. You need to feel comfortable sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings so they can help you.
If you can’t do that, then you can’t get the help that you need.
Talk to a few counselors before making a commitment to one. You need to think of this as starting a long-term relationship based on trust.
Jumping into a long-term relationship isn’t always the best move. Instead, take your time and interview a few different online counselors.
You can then decide which one to work with. You may have to trust your intuition to make that decision.
7. Flexible Scheduling and Support Options
What kind of support do you get outside of your appointments? For example, if an issue appears and you have a quick question on how to handle it, can you send an email?
You also want to know if there is flexible scheduling available. Your life is busy and you want to make sure that you don’t have extended wait times between appointments when you need to make changes.
You also want to have a clear set of expectations that if you do need to make changes, you can still work with that counselor. In some counseling clinics, you may have to work with a new counselor if you change your schedule.
This can be a big deal if you established rapport with your counselor and don’t want to establish rapport with a new person.
Find the Best Online Counselor for Your Needs
Since COVID-19 sent people indoors and socially distanced, life quickly became more isolated. That’s on top of additional stress at home and work, not to mention the everyday financial stress.
These issues can take a toll on your mental health. You don’t need to go through any tough times alone, even in a pandemic. You can work with an online counselor who’s equipped to help you with anxiety, depression, and couples’ issues.
For more creative ways to improve your mental health, check out the Health and Wellness blog.
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