Online therapy is an increasingly popular option when it comes to supporting mental health. Unsurprisingly, the flexible nature of the services and affordable pricing (in comparison to brick-and-mortar therapy) make it an appealing option for many. Although it may sound too good to be true, this form of therapy isn’t much different from traditional therapy — and that includes the licensed psychologists who provide the virtual support.
Both online and in-person, psychologists give clients professional help as they address the mental health challenges in their lives — whether clinical (e.g. depression or anxiety), circumstantial (relationship troubles or a new job) or individual (life’s inevitable ups and downs). Irrespective of the location, psychologists are required to have the same licenses and credentials to provide therapeutic support. The key? Selecting a psychologist who best fits your needs.
What is an Online Psychologist?
An online psychologist is no different than a psychologist you would see in an office. To demystify the conversation further, online psychologists have a degree in psychology, as well as the professional training and the skills required to help someone cope with life’s challenges and mental health issues. After years of graduate school and supervised training, psychologists become licensed by their state to diagnose clients and determine the best form of treatment.
Online psychologists can help a wide variety of people and treat many types of mental health issues, including:
- Depression and anxiety
- Long-term anger issues
- Chronic conditions impacting physical health
- A feeling of being overwhelmed
- Grieving the death of a family member
- Managing addiction
- Overcoming stressful situations
- Breaking past emotional barriers to reach a goal
To help determine the best form of treatment, psychologists can administer and interpret tests and assessments to help diagnose a condition or learn more about how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. Then, they use an assortment of evidence-based treatments to help address the issues a person is facing, generally taking the form of talk therapy.
Differences Between Online and In-Person Psychologists
Online psychologists can be a great resource for anyone who could benefit from traditional, in-office therapy. Virtual therapy sessions entail a licensed therapist offering psychological support and advice via online messaging, voice and video messaging, as well as live video sessions. Whether conversations occur in real time, such as a live video session, or in a less-immediate format, like over email or asynchronous text messaging, this form of counseling provides someone with quick and convenient access to psychologists.
Conversations with an online psychologist generally take the form of video, audio, or text messages sent to a therapist, who can reply multiple times per day or week, through a longer video conference session, or a combination of these options, depending on a person’s preference. If two people seek marriage or couples counseling, there are also options that engage both individuals, lifting the barrier of schedule coordination that keeps many couples from seeking help.
Choosing the Right Online Psychologist
A reputable online therapy provider will offer licensed and trained psychologists to their clients. To ensure you are selecting the right provider, it is important to verify that your psychologist is properly licensed and qualified — this can be easily looked up through a state’s Board of Psychology using their license number. Talkspace therapists are also subject to detailed background checks as well as an extensive vetting and training period.
Once a person signs up for an online therapy platform, he or she can better evaluate whether a matched psychologist appears comfortable and professional in an online setting. It’s also important that there is a good personal fit — the right chemistry is vital when forging the therapeutic bond. Many online therapy providers make changing therapists a minimally disruptive process, with some like Talkspace allowing a switch in a few clicks.
Another important consideration is whether an online psychologist offers sessions through safe and secure communication channels. Be sure a video portal meets HIPAA requirements, which is the legislation providing data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information. Skype and most other common video call applications do not meet HIPAA regulations, nor would a regular phone session or emailing with a therapist.
If you are a Talkspace client, you can send your therapist text messages, audio messages, as well as picture and video messages in an encrypted and private chat environment. The company uses banking-grade encryption and authentication measures to make sure clients receive the safest, most secure and private online therapy available — with the highest quality of care.
Online psychologists can support and enable care for a wide range of mental health issues. These individuals are skilled, trained, and licensed in the field of psychology and have the ability to help someone cope with life’s challenges. While there is no discernible difference between an online psychologist and one you visit in person (outside of the setting, of course) it is crucial to find the best possible online therapy provider to facilitate the healing and growth you’re looking to achieve.