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Last Updated: Jun 2024

Best Therapy in Ashburn for 2024
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Online therapy is as effective as in-person therapy (Psychology.org)

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Natural Intelligence does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or your local emergency number immediately.

Like the name suggests, online therapy is a term used to describe mental health counseling that you can receive from the comfort of your own home in front of your PC or right at your fingertips on your smartphone. Looking for a therapist near you? Consider online therapy to eliminate the hassle of leaving home and to expand your options.

Online therapy is a great way for people dealing with mental health issues to get easy, convenient, and reliable counseling that usually ends up being cheaper than in-person therapy. Please be aware that online therapy is not the right answer for urgent mental health emergencies. Anyone in need of urgent medical care should visit the nearest hospital to get the help they need.

Why Experts Are Pushing for a Huge Expansion of Online Therapy

One of the biggest benefits of online therapy is its ability to reach people who otherwise couldn’t make it to a therapist’s office in person. Although it may be tempting to want a therapist near you, searching for 'therapists near me' might not turn up the results you hoped for. David Kaplan, the chief professional officer of the American Counseling Association, told The Atlantic, “Online counseling can be especially useful with individuals in rural America, as a great many rural counties do not have a single licensed mental-health professional.”  The magazine also mentions patients with agoraphobia, or those whose anxiety limits their mobility, as other potential benefactors of online therapy.

The web may just be catching on to this phenomenon, but the US military is no stranger to the benefits of distance therapy. For more than 20 years, the military has been using a form of teletherapy to help soldiers work through anxiety and PTSD. 

A recent study published in Behaviour Research and Therapy compared the effects of remote therapy compared and traditional face-to-face counseling. Researchers chose 132 military veterans with PTSD and provided each with 10-12 prolonged exposure therapy sessions. Half of the veterans were given face-to-face counseling at a VA center while the other half’s sessions were conducted by video conference from the comfort of the patients’ homes. 

“Our effects with PTSD were just as good in person vs. home based telehealth,” psychologist Ron Acierno, who led the study, told the Huffington Post. While those who were given at-home treatments were less prone to completing the program than those who visited the VA center, Acierno and his colleagues were surprised and inspired by the lack of success between the two modes of therapy. 

There’s been less pushback than you might expect from the psychology community, given that online therapy services could pose a real threat to traditionalists in the field. The American Psychological Association (APA) has covered the topic extensively, offering a hopeful, yet cautious endorsement of what it sees as a new avenue to helping those who need it find support. 

With some caveats, the Internet continues to be extremely useful for disseminating health and mental health information,” the APA said back in 2001. A more recent APA article, titled “A Growing Wave of Online Therapy,” celebrated online therapy’s potential and stated that “the onus is on psychologists to make sure they comply with federal and state laws.”

How Can You Connect With Your Online Therapist?

Most online therapy companies offer 3 main types of counseling: real-time chat, video chat, and phone chat.

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. 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 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.

Real time chat puts you into a secure line and allows you to chat back and forth with a counselor in real time. Think of it like having your own personal, private chat room with a counselor who’s there to listen to what ails you.

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. If you’re seeking out online counseling for your child, the quiz will ask you a lot of questions about what you think the child needs help with, before sending the child an invitation on your behalf.

How Much Does Online Therapy Cost?

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, including all messaging, chats, phone, and video sessions.

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.

Choosing Your Therapist

There are several important things to ask your therapist when you are first introduced to each other. Some of these questions might include: 

  • When and how often do you typically respond?
  • Do you work evenings and weekends?
  • What is your therapeutic approach?
  • What are your areas of expertise?

So what should you do if you get matched with a therapist that you don't like? If you don’t feel connected to your therapist, most sites give you the option to request a new one. While you shouldn’t necessarily play switcharoo each time you dislike or disagree with your counselor’s input, you should make sure you are working with someone you trust — and who you can relate to. It shouldn’t take too long to be comfortable, but it does take some time to build a working, reliable and dependable relationship with your therapist.   

However, therapy takes work and commitment, so remember that it is your counselors’ job to challenge you sometimes and hold you accountable to yourself. The process can be uncomfortable, and that oftentimes means you are making progress. Be sure to distinguish the difference between someone who is inspiring you to confront what you need to work on while holding you accountable with someone who you are unable to connect with. 

Choosing the Right Online Therapy Service for You

After deciding you want to expand your search for therapy near you and look into online therapy, there are some things you need to consider. Before you sign up for an online therapy service, 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 also, and see if it fits your budget. In addition, see if you can quit the membership at any time, or if its binding.

Our Top 3 Picks

    World's largest network of licensed therapistsVisit Site
    • Best for - Messaging your therapist anytime
    • Pricing - Prices starting at $65/week
    • Modes of communication - Text, live chat, video call, phone call
    World's largest network of licensed therapists
    Visit Site

    BetterHelp - Best online therapy site overall

    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.

    Read BetterHelp Review
    Pros & Cons

    BetterHelp Pros & Cons


    Message your therapist anytime
    Studies show the platform is effective
    Operates in 200+ countries and 82 languages


    Therapists can’t prescribe medication
    Harder to find specialized therapists
    betterhelp logo
    Visit Site
    Faithful Counseling
    A faith-based approach to clinical therapyVisit Site
    • Best for - Clinical therapy that includes biblical teachings
    • Pricing - Prices starting at $65/week
    • Modes of communication - Video, phone, message, live chat
    A faith-based approach to clinical therapy

    Faithful Counseling - Best for faith-based therapy for Christians 

    As of recent, Faithful Counseling merged with Betterhelp, which also delivers clinical therapy for Christians. Its therapists are all licensed and certified within their field and submit declarations as to their beliefs to ensure they conform to the statement of faith. When signing up for the service, you will be directed to fill out a questionnaire that will properly match you with a suitable Christian therapist. 

    A sophisticated matching process is employed to connect you with a therapist specializing in your mental health difficulties and your branch of Christianity. This means it’s a suitable platform if your faith is important and you wish to include biblical teachings in your therapy. Its easy sign-up process, clear and appealing display, and simple functionality in terms of booking appointments make it easy for Christians who want faith-based counseling. 

    Why we chose Faithful Counseling: Though Faithful Counseling merged with Betterhelp, Christian-centered therapy practices are still easy to access. The platform uniquely integrates clinical therapy with Christianity, ensuring a harmonious blend of faith and mental health support. Various Christian denominations are catered to, including Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, and others, allowing users to find counselors who resonate with their specific faith traditions. Spiritual practices like prayer, meditation, and scripture reading are also integrated. This online therapy provider is an ideal choice for believers who want to incorporate biblical principles into their counseling sessions.

    Read Faithful Counseling Review
    Pros & Cons

    Faithful Counseling Pros & Cons


    6,000+ therapists specializing in Christianity-based counseling
    24/7 messaging services
    Accessible via website or the free app


    Matching process can take 1-2 days
    Can’t choose a specific therapist
    faithful-counseling logo
    Faithful Counseling
    Dedicated online relationship therapyVisit Site
    • Best for - Therapists that specialize in relationship therapy
    • Pricing - $65-$100/week
    • Modes of communication - Video, phone, message, live chat
    Dedicated online relationship therapy

    ReGain - Best for online relationship therapy

    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. 

    Read ReGain Review
    Pros & Cons

    ReGain Pros & Cons


    Therapists specialize in a wide range of relationship issues
    User-friendly app
    Discount available to those in need


    Not appropriate for crisis situations
    Does not work in-network with insurance providers

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