While online therapy was initially a great alternative for those who didn’t have the time, access, or inclination to seek face-to-face therapy, it has become the preferred choice even for those who are able to attend in person. The best online therapy providers are licensed and experienced psychologists, social workers, and counselors who are trained in certain practice areas and well versed in the ins and outs of successful virtual work.
Furthermore, during the time of a global pandemic, people have been truly gratified by the fact they can receive professional therapy in the privacy of their own homes. They don’t need to social distance or wear a mask and can instead focus on the reasons for seeking therapy in the first place. Due to COVID-19, rates of online therapy have markedly risen during the past several months, and since it became popular several years ago, more sites have come on the market. The way online therapy works, it’s very suitable if you’re spending more time at home and also looking to cut costs.
Online Therapy for OCD
Most online therapists are trained in working with a variety of mental health diagnoses as well as being equipped to support clients in several different therapeutic approaches. A common mental health diagnosis is OCD or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. OCD is clinically defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) (300.3), but to understand it in more simple terms, it is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted, recurring ideas and thoughts (obsessions) in which they then feel compelled to do something repeatedly (compulsions).
After being diagnosed and put on a medication protocol, many people choose to work with a therapist online due to the chronic nature of the condition. It might be common for people to want to find a therapist right away to learn to manage the symptoms, as well as to learn day-to-day coping strategies. Other people turn to therapy at different points depending on their circumstances.
What Treatments Are There for OCD?
One of the most common treatments for OCD is exposure and response prevention (ERP), a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). ERP is easily adaptable to online therapy and there are many therapists who specialize in doing so. The exposure element of ERP is exposing yourself to what makes you most anxious, like the thoughts and images, while actively deciding not to participate in the compulsive behavior that you would typically do when triggered. Your therapist will guide you through these steps and work with you on the exposure and behavioral changes.
Before (or instead of) using ERP, some therapists begin with imaginal exposure and/or habit reversal training, both of which can be adapted and utilized online. The combination of these therapies, along with a medication protocol that a psychiatrist or other medical professional prescribes, can be an effective online treatment for working with clients diagnosed with OCD.
People who have been diagnosed with OCD often choose to take part in therapy for a long time because a huge priority is gaining control of your symptoms with strong coping mechanisms and a good support system.
Treatment for each person is different and really cannot be compared. The experience each person has with therapy is different as well. That is why it is so critical to make a good connection with your therapist during the initial phase of the online therapy process. This will create a bond between client and therapist that can be maintained through the length of the relationship. And just like in-person therapy, there is not a limit to the amount of time someone can continue therapy. In fact, in many cases, someone can take a break from therapy and go right back to working with the same person when they want to return. This is great for someone diagnosed with OCD, and it is just another reason why online therapy is an excellent choice.
By nature, online therapy was designed to be HIPPA compliant and confidential. It has allowed people to feel comfortable taking the first step—a step that might be harder for some to do when their only option is in person. For some people, the emergence of online therapy has made getting help a reality that was otherwise impossible. Previously, they were either too fearful of taking the first step or were unable to because of the distance or costs. Many people avoided dealing with their struggles due to frustrations over not having a reputable counselor in their town or a lack of insurance. Whatever the reason, the influx of online options has truly changed the mental health profession for the better.
Online Therapy Offers More Ways to Communicate
Almost all online platforms provide a variation of live chat, video, and phone sessions, with the opportunity to message your therapist on a regular basis. It is much more reasonably priced than face-to-face therapy, even if it is not covered by insurance. Most sites range from $40-$90 per week, which is far less than a typical in-person session that can be upwards of $150 per session.
In most situations, you can write to your therapist through the portal at any time, and you can expect a response within 24 hours. This is different than having to wait each week (or more) to see your therapist, and it is a nice option that most online sites offer in between sessions.
How to Choose an Online Counselor
Another perk of online therapy is the easy option to change therapists if you find the one you choose (or are matched with) is not a good fit. While switching around is not ideal, there is a great deal of flexibility when necessary. It is imperative that you feel comfortable with your therapist so you can create a relationship that is conducive to productive work and support.
The bond between client and therapist can be just as close online as it is face to face. And if there were people who doubted the ability for relationships to be sustained online, the COVID-19 outbreak and the use of Zoom, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, and BlueJeans has made people realize how strong the power a remote connection can really be.