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Online therapy refers to mental health counseling services that you can receive remotely via video sessions, phone calls, texting, or live chat. Often referred to as “e-therapy” or “internet therapy,” online therapy offers non-crises therapy for people of all ages suffering from depression, anxiety, trauma, phobias, and a wide range of other mental health issues.
Online therapy isn’t meant for people who are in the midst of a mental health emergency or who need urgent medical care. Rather, it’s a more accessible, affordable alternative to in-person counseling or in-person couples therapy. Online therapists are fully trained, and licensed in their fields and hold PhDs, LMFTs, LCSWs, or LPCs. Just as in traditional therapy and couples therapy, each online therapist will have their own approach and specialties, ranging from CTB to talk therapy, couples counseling, and more.
Just as in face-to-face couples therapy, online couples therapy offers a space for partners, spouses, and couples to work through obstacles in their relationships. Online couples therapists work together with their clients to help couples communicate better, resolve conflicts in their relationship, strengthen trust, reconnect emotionally, overcome intimacy issues, and find healthy solutions to any other problems that arise in a relationship.
Online couples therapy can work a number of ways, though it utilizes the internet in order to allow clients to speak with their counselors both individually and together. Most online therapy companies offer 3 main types of counseling: real-time chat, video chat, and phone chat. The exact format sessions will take will depend on the preferences and needs of you and your partner as well as on the suggestions of the therapist, though most couples counseling work will focus on live talk therapy with your partner and therapist present. Online couples therapy may also include written exercises and exercises to be completed between sessions. You may have sessions with your partner and follow up with personal consultations or individual sessions with your therapist.
Email and text message counseling is popular with people who want to be able to think out their questions and write them out before asking, though these options may be less ideal for couples counseling. These tend to not be free-flowing conversations like with phone or video chats, but being able to write out what you want to say can be preferable. Typically these chats are done through your personal email to a special, secure email provided through the site, which can help safeguard your anonymity.
Video chat will require a reliable internet connection and will allow you and your partner to speak with a counselor face-to-face, if not in the same room. It’s intimate, personal, and allows you to establish a rapport that can be more difficult with the written word.
When you sign up for an online therapy service, you’ll typically be asked to take a short quiz to determine which sorts of issues you’re dealing with, which can be used to help the service match you with a counselor who may specialize in your concerns. It’s important to remember that you and your partner have complete control over finding a therapist that’s best for you, and you’ll be able to voice concerns or request a new therapist if the two of you don’t connect with your first counselor.
The prices vary by company, but typically online therapy services charge a monthly fee to use the service, and don't charge by minute or hour or text. For instance, BetterHelp, one of the bigger names in the industry, charges a flat fee of between $40-$70 per week for individual therapy, including all messaging, chats, phone, and video sessions. Couples therapy may cost a bit more, as online therapy sites on average charge between $80-$100 per week.
These memberships tend to be quite flexible, and allow you to quit at any time.
Most online counseling is not covered by insurance, so while it’s cheaper than in-person therapists, you will typically have to pay out of pocket.
Before you sign up for an online therapy service and specifically, couples therapy, do a little research. Take a look at how the company screens its counselors and if their certification checks out. You can also look at online testimonials by customers to get an idea about the quality of service.
You’ll want to decide which types of counseling you want—chat, video, or email—and if they’re available through the service. If you’re interested in using the service on your smartphone, see if the company has an app and if you’re allowed to have sessions with your counselor by chat on your phone.
In addition, check what type of security they provide and if your chats will be encrypted, and if you’ll have the ability to remain anonymous to your counselor.
Look at the price for couples therapy also, and see if it fits your budget. In addition, see if you can quit the membership at any time, or if it’s binding.
Once you’ve found a platform you’re happy with, it’s important to find a couples therapist that both you and your partner can agree on. Successful therapy requires that all parties feel comfortable, heard, and represented, so a good practice is to consult with your partner after every session and make sure both of you feel comfortable with your therapist before moving ahead.
BetterHelp is one of the largest providers of online therapy services, letting you get matched with a licensed professional therapist in less than 24 hours. You’ll be able to communicate with your therapist by phone, video call, live chat, or text messaging.
While the platform doesn’t take insurance, it does offer financial aid for patients with tighter budgets.
Why we chose BetterHelp: BetterHelp’s app and online platform are both user-friendly, giving you access to self-help worksheets on various topics, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and conflict resolution.
Our experience: BetterHelp reviews are positive and the service is reasonably priced. We like the fact that BetterHelp counselors each go through a rigorous vetting process.
ReGain offers convenient online relationship therapy for couples and individuals. Their service matches you with a licensed therapist specifically chosen to address your needs and goals. Its monthly subscription grants one live video or phone session per week, along with 24/7 access to an online therapist.
Why we chose ReGain: ReGain understands everyone’s situation is different and offers reduced fees to those with financial difficulties or disabilities.
Our experience: With ReGain, you can pick and choose your therapy appointments entirely around your schedule. This makes it a particularly convenient option if you are restricted in time.
Faithful Counseling is an online therapy platform that specializes in delivering clinical therapy that includes Christian teachings from the Bible. Its therapists are all licensed and certified within their field and submit declarations as to their beliefs to ensure they conform to the Faithful Counseling statement of faith.
The provider employs a sophisticated matching process to connect you with a therapist that specializes in both your mental health difficulties and your branch of Christianity. This means it’s a suitable platform if your faith is important to you and wish to include biblical teachings in your therapy. Its easy sign-up process, clear and appealing display, 24/7 messaging service, and simple functionality in terms of booking appointments make it easy for Christians who want faith-based counseling to try Faithful Counseling.
Why we chose Faithful Counseling: In-app journal