Virtual therapy provides mental and emotional healthcare to those who may not otherwise have access. Users receive the counseling they need remotely, through their digital device such as laptop, desktop or a mobile app—think of it as telemed, but for mental health and well-being.
Telehealth provides virtual counseling for individuals when and where you need it. Cost, convenience and outcomes for users have made virtual therapy a mainstay. As the American Psychological Association stated in 2021, “Online therapy is here to stay.” Let’s look at some of the reasons why, what it is, and whether virtual therapy is the right therapy for you.
Who uses virtual counseling services?
Like telemed, virtual counseling has been around for years. But remote mental healthcare became a necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions. People simply needed a means of connecting with expert counselors and therapists remotely.
An opportunity emerged. People living in remote or low-income communities who did not have access to quality mental health services suddenly had remote choices thanks to virtual counseling choices. Likewise, seniors with access and mobility issues now could receive the best mental and emotional support care available anywhere in the nation.
Those with ample means but busy schedules benefited. Those with one or more busy jobs, children and other obligations could receive the treatment they needed without office visits and waiting rooms. As added benefits, they could receive it typically at lower cost, when they needed it most and from the comfort and privacy of home.
What kinds of mental health counseling services are provided?
Virtual counselors and therapists can provide the same basic services as you would expect from an in-office visit. As with any brick-and-mortar provider, it largely depends on the remote therapy platform you choose.
For instance, we have seen rises in drug use, depression and suicidal thoughts and ideation. Remote counseling provides the opportunity for a passionate counselor to connect with you over those issues remotely. Similarly, remote counselors can help you work through anxiety or trauma including PTSD. Couples, marriage, family, teen, LGBTQ and pregnancy issues may also be caringly addressed through online therapy. Grief at the loss of a loved one or spouse, or even financial issues, can be addressed by caring healthcare providers through virtual therapy.
But even if you feel unhappy and don’t know why, or sense a certain dispassion or lack of motivation, online therapy can help you get back on track to feel.
In essence, remote therapy provides for the needs of your spirit and well-being similarly as any in-person office visit. But it does so without the inconvenience and typically much higher cost.
Are virtual therapy counselors licensed professionals?
The best virtual therapy platforms provide experienced, licensed, accredited counselors, psychologists and other mental healthcare professionals.
But that does not mean all of them do. Some due diligence is required on your part starting out. It’s really no different than if you were seeking grief, marriage or other counseling a decade ago. You will want to know the company’s reputation and offerings. You will also want to see if the company aligns with your personal values. Those may be religious, cultural or other. Simply, you want to find a company that provides therapists you feel comfortable talking to openly.
While most online therapy services cannot prescribe medication remotely, they will provide the services you can expect with an in-person visit to a counselor, psychologist or other mental healthcare professional.
Is teletherapy worth the cost, and will my insurance cover it?
Counseling saves lives, marriages, careers and can vastly improve quality of life. Taking that as a given, are there cost benefits to virtual therapy?
It largely depends on you and your personal needs and preferences. A study cited by Medical News Today found that nearly 50% of respondents preferred telepsychiatry to in-office visits. Note, that isn’t a random sample. These are people seeking care who had already chosen to visit in-office, but they decided to continue therapy services online when given the choice.
Additionally, teletherapy provides added convenience not only to you, but to your counselor. Just as you may feel more comfortable from your home, so may your therapist. The drive time and other prices are also mutually beneficial. For this reason, you will typically find remote therapy programs at a large price savings compared to in-office therapeutic visits.
Still, many virtual mental healthcare programs are still yet covered by Medicare, Medicaid or possibly your commercial insurance provider. Yet for most, the lower cost, convenience, comfort and professionalism while avoiding paperwork and deductibles makes telehealth the best choice for a rapidly growing number of people who seek professional family and personal counseling services.