I recently started offering online counseling through Better Help, an online counseling website. In today's society, electronic communication has definitely become preferable among adults and adolescents. If you are considering participating in online counseling, read this first! I will go over the benefits and downfalls of online mental health counseling, and who it can be appropriate for. Keep reading to learn more!
Online counseling can be beneficial for many reasons. Below I will list some common benefits found through research as well as word of mouth.
- It is completely confidential
Online counseling is typically conducted in a private office setting, on the therapist's side. Clients can choose to find a private room in their home to participate in the counseling, and don't have to risk running into anyone they may know by going to a physical office location. The only time a therapist would have to break confidentiality would be in the event a threat is made to hurt someone else or yourself, or if you disclose that a child or elderly person is being abused.
- It can be helpful for those who don't have reliable transportation
Car break down? Have to take a bus or a train? Having financial problems affecting your ability to provide transportation? Online counseling can assist you with addressing mental health concerns without having the stress of finding transportation.
- It can be a nice substitute when there is inclement weather
Snow day? Torrential downpour? Below freezing weather? Forget about it! Stay cozy, warm and safe at home while still being able to address your mental health concerns. You don't even have to get out of your pajamas!
Although online counseling can be beneficial for many more reasons than were listed, it is also important to consider the following:
- It can sometimes be difficult to treat more acute mental health conditions
What this means is that online counseling takes away the therapist's ability to see the entire clinical picture. Therapists are not able to read bodily and facial reactions, as well as assess therapeutic effectiveness. It is also not possible to give an accurate diagnosis most of the time, due to the therapist needing to make certain observations in person. Online counseling may not be appropriate for those with severe mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or certain personality disorders.
- Most insurance won't cover it
Insurance companies typically compensate for services performed at a physical location. Since services are being performed online, there currently is no ethical way to verify that the client is attending their session in the actual state that the insurance provides coverage for. Therefore, you will typically be required to pay out of pocket for online counseling.
- You can't interact with our therapy dog!
Of course, the most obvious reason, as well as the foundation of our program, is that we cannot offer interaction with a therapy dog during online sessions. Sure, the dog can be in the office during the online session, however the added benefits from interacting with a therapy dog will not apply to online sessions.
Be sure you carefully consider all the pros and cons for beginning online counseling. Of course, you can always make the choice to begin with online counseling and later switch to in-person, or vice versa. Think carefully about what is best for you at the time, and understand that there are risks and benefits no matter which avenue you choose.
No matter what you choose, know that your therapist is there to help you, and not judge. Also understand that therapy and building a relationship with your therapist takes time and patience. Be patient with yourself and trust in the process, and your therapist will do the same.
Until next time, be well and wag on!