Updated May 20, 2023
If you’re looking for an online therapist to help you manage your mental health, it’s worth taking time, energy, and effort. Yes, it can feel like a daunting task — but when you know how to find a therapist, it can lead to the improved emotional well-being you’ve been searching for.
Read on to learn how to find a virtual therapist.
Determine What You Need First
Know what you want to work on
The first step in finding a therapist online is understanding why you’re seeking therapy in the first place. Are you struggling with emotional health, anxiety, or another psychological problem? Or are other factors at play, such as relationship issues or a recent life transition?
Reflecting on questions like these can be beneficial in selecting an online therapist that best suits your needs.
“It’s common to start therapy at a time in life when you have career or relationship questions or need help with anxiety, depression, healing from trauma, or for many other reasons. Reaching out to speak with a therapist for support and guidance can make a significant difference in your life.”– Talkspace therapist Jill Daino, LCSW-R, BC-TMH
Have an idea of your ideal length and frequency of sessions
Once you’ve identified why you’re seeking treatment, consider how often and how long you’d like to meet for an online therapy session with a therapist.
Do weekly sessions sound ideal, or do biweekly check-ins make more sense for now?
Deciding on this upfront can help narrow down potential therapists who offer online counseling services that meet your needs.
Using health insurance (or not)
How much money do you have available each month for therapy? Many online providers offer sliding scale fees based on income, so look into those options if you need therapy without insurance.
If you can’t afford therapy, you should be able to get it covered by insurance. Therapists who accept insurance coverage might mean significantly lower costs for treatment, depending on your plan details and provider availability through in-network plans (if applicable).
Finding a therapist online is easier today than ever, especially since so many employers now offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), which provide free counseling services — something else worth exploring if possible.
Cultural or gender preference
Consider whether cultural or gender preference plays a role in your search. For some people, culturally competent therapy is essential for real, significant progress. It’s important for people to feel that their therapist understands the nuances of their culture and how it may impact their mental health. In the same vein, someone might feel more comfortable opening up to a therapist of the same gender.
Consider the different types of psychotherapy
Before settling on a provider, research the various types of therapy offered. Depending on your requirements and objectives for your treatment, your approach can be instrumental in the results you get. Here are some common forms of therapy:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking to view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them more effectively. At Talkspace, our therapists offer online CBT if you’re interested and if it’s recommended for your needs.
- Interpersonal therapy (IPT): Improves depressive symptoms by focusing on interpersonal relationships, communication,and relational patterns.
- Psychodynamic therapy: Focuses on unconscious factors and encourages patients to really understand what and why they’re feeling a certain way.
Preferred mode of communication
Don’t forget about communication preferences: Do you prefer text messaging? Video chat? Phone calls? A combination? Luckily, there is an abundance of therapy options to choose from and at Talkspace we provide all three modalities.
Determining whether virtual video sessions or phone calls work better for your lifestyle and comfort level is essential. Both options are available through many online platforms.
Finding a therapist online who’s open to texting and messaging through a secure app means you’ll have easy, convenient access to care. There are thousands of people who only do messaging therapy, and studies have proven the efficacy of purely text-based therapy — some research finds that after ceasing sessions, online therapy effects last much longer than in-person.
Where to Search for an Online Therapist
Knowing how to find a virtual therapist starts by exploring all potential choices. Then, you can find a qualified professional who offers the virtual therapy services you’re looking for. Where do you find them?
Many websites provide directories that list therapists by specialty and location. Searching through directories of therapists on the web can help you locate mental health professionals who offer the services you need. Some guides also allow you to filter results based on insurance coverage or language.
Online therapy network
Online therapy networks connect clients with licensed counselors through their websites or apps. Clients can access licensed counselors from their residences with the help of these platforms, which typically offer video chat, messaging, and secure payment options.
Most networks require users to fill out an intake form before they can search for a therapist, so read the terms and conditions carefully before signing up for any service.
Ask friends and family
Your friends and family may be able to recommend therapists they’ve worked with in the past or even suggest ones they know about but haven’t tried themselves yet. Seeking assistance from those close to you can be a great way to find potential therapists with expertise in particular treatment forms. It never hurts to ask around.
Tips for Finding a Good Therapist Online
Finding the right therapist can be daunting. With so many choices and qualifications to consider, narrowing the selection can be challenging. Fortunately, the following tips will ensure you find the best possible therapist for your needs.
It’s important — and smart — to review a therapist’s reviews and online profile. Examining the feedback of other patients can help you make an informed decision on whether they might be a good or bad therapist for you. Social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn may also provide helpful information.
Look at their experience
Make sure their experience and expertise line up with your needs. Are you looking for someone who specializes in treating anxiety? Do you need someone experienced in helping people work through trauma? Or maybe you just need someone to provide general support during challenging times? Finding an online therapist that specializes in your mental health concern can be incredibly effective.
Check certifications and credentials
Ask about their education, training, and any certifications they may have. This will ensure they’re qualified and experienced enough to provide quality care for your mental health concerns.
Ask how sessions work
Find out how the therapy sessions will work before committing yourself financially or emotionally to a long-term relationship with the therapist.
Think about the cost — and ask about payment options
On average, the cost of therapy is between $75 and $150 per session, but you might find it as low as $20 and as high as $400, depending on the therapist and your insurance coverage. Using an online therapy network, like Talkspace can help you get to a lower price point. When you factor therapy into your budget, think of it as another monthly bill such as electricity or Internet.
Ask about payment options, session lengths, confidentiality policies, availability of emergency services if needed, and any other information related to providing quality service before beginning treatment sessions.
Make sure you’re comfortable
Finally, you must find someone who makes you feel comfortable during sessions so you can open up honestly without fear of judgment or criticism from them regarding your thoughts or feelings.
“It’s important to remember that therapy is collaborative. Finding the right fit is key to feeling comfortable speaking openly about yourself. It can sometimes take a few tries to find the right match — do not give up!”– Talkspace therapist Jill Daino, LCSW-R, BC-TMH
Connect with an Online Therapist Through Talkspace
Now that you know how to find an online therapist, make the search easier with Talkspace. Our online therapy platform connects you with licensed therapists that take insurance. We offer a variety of options for anyone seeking mental health support, from individual therapy to couples counseling. Talkspace allows users to conveniently access affordable professional assistance right from their own home, without traveling or physically waiting in a doctor’s waiting room.
- Wagner B, Horn AB, Maercker A. Internet-based versus face-to-face cognitive-behavioral intervention for depression: A randomized controlled non-inferiority trial. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2014;152-154:113-121. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2013.06.032. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165032713005120. Accessed March 11, 2023.