Online therapy is part of telemedicine, an industry that has grown rapidly over the past few years. This is revolutionizing access to healthcare for many people — in particular those seeking mental health services in a confidential and comfortable setting. While online therapy may not be suitable for some patients with certain conditions and some may question its efficacy compared to face-to-face sessions, it is certainly preferable to seek online therapy than avoiding professional mental health services altogether.
How to use it
There are multiple companies offering online therapy. Some of the best deals can be found at the top of this page. Keep in mind that the list is not meant to be a comprehensive list of all the options available on the market, though.
After you choose a provider, you need to decide what type of plan to get. Most offer a subscription where you pay for unlimited sessions for a given period of time. Some companies also allow you to pay per session. This could be a better deal if you don’t intend to have sessions weekly or more often.
Therapy providers offer video call and text-based therapy to choose from. While you may think just chatting will be sufficient, be careful. Many professionals question the efficacy of this type of therapy and suggest using video calls so that the therapist may also take note of the patient’s facial expressions.
Before starting online therapy, consider the following:
HIPAA - The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act contains regulations for the mental health industry concerning how medical centers provide therapy sessions and for therapists as well. It is extremely important to make sure the service you use is compliant with the law.
Privacy - HIPAA, in part, and state laws outline what information medical institutions have to keep private and what they may share about you as their patient. Keep in mind that they are responsible for keeping details about your conditions and what kind of therapy used in your sessions private. In some states, even your payment method has been classified as undisclosed part;
Professionals - Before signing up for a service, make sure that the therapists that the platform uses are licensed therapists — only board-certified psychologists, counselors, therapists, and clinical workers are legally allowed to provide therapy.
Institutions - You can confirm that a therapist is certified through the American Psychological Association, the National Board of Certified Counselors, or their state`s regulatory board.
Prices for online therapy vary substantially and can be anywhere from $25 to $400 per session based on various factors including where you are located. If your medical insurance policy covers mental health, which it very well may not, you will only have to pay the copay listed on your policy. Without insurance or if your insurance does not cover mental health, you will have to pay the entire cost out of pocket, though even the most expensive online therapy is likely to be less than in-person therapy — in fact, it may cost only half as much.
Make sure to check your insurance policy or contact your provider to see if they cover online mental health services — even if mental health is covered by your policy, the company may not cover online sessions.