Online Therapy ServicesLearn about the pros and cons of using an online therapy service. Find out about several of the top online therapy options for 2022.
Online therapy refers to any counseling service conducted through the internet. There are two primary types of online therapy services. The first is similar to traditional therapy sessions, where you and your therapist use an app to communicate with each other in real time. This often involves a video call, but this is not required for all therapists. The second type of therapy uses an app system. Instead of speaking to a therapist in real time, you can send messages through the app. Your therapist can also check in with you using the app at scheduled times. Some of these apps also incorporate real time sessions.
Online therapy services use different pricing methods. Some services will charge for each session, while others use a weekly or monthly membership. While the costs of online therapy services are typically lower than in-person sessions, your insurance may not cover the costs. With so many therapists switching to distance services because of the Coronavirus, more insurance agencies are providing more support for online therapy services.
Pros of Online Therapy Services
The biggest advantage of using online therapy services is convenience. Not only do you cut out travel time because the session takes place over the internet, but you have a much wider range of therapists to choose from. This is especially helpful if you live in a remote area, where there are limited in-person therapy options. Even in larger areas, it allows you to look for specialists in other states.
Prices are also more favorable for patients. Therapists who work remotely often use a home office instead of renting their own space. This drastically cuts down on how much therapists must charge each session. You also have more opportunities to save on costs, since you do not have any travel fees. With more therapists to choose from, it is easier to find appointments without having to take off time from work.
Many patients also find it easier to share personal details with a therapist when they are not face to face. Some patients even look for sessions that do not utilize video calls for this reason. With text-based services, you also have more time to think about what questions your therapist is asking, giving you more time to reflect on your answers without feeling rushed because you know you only have a short time left in your session.
Cons of Online Therapy Services
While online therapy allows you to see therapists outside of your community, this comes with some downsides. Some insurance providers only provide coverage for therapists within your state. Licensing requirements are also different depending on where you live. If you are using an app, it is harder to check the credentials of your therapist.
While some patients find the distance an advantage, others are less comfortable without in-person communication. It is easier to feel like you are closed off from your therapist when you are talking to them over an app instead of sitting in an office together.
Talkspace was one of the innovators of online therapy. In addition to communication services, the website also offers medication management services to members. There are multiple membership plans to choose from, with standard services starting at $65 per week. This includes unlimited text, video and audio messaging up to five days each week. The website also has special accounts for either couples or teenage therapy. These accounts use the same subscription service as a normal account. You can also request a psychiatric evaluation, which costs $199. Additional psychiatric services are separate from the subscription account, charging $125 for each visit. Before you commit to a therapist, you get a free 10-minute introduction call with the prospective therapist.
In addition to having a large roster of trained online counselors, Talkspace is one of the most insurance friendly online services. You can also pay for a membership using HSA or FSA cards. You may also be able to apply employee assistance programs for Talkspace services.
If you want a counseling experience that mimics in-person visits, Amwell is one of the best sites. Unlike other online therapy services, Amwell focuses on video-based sessions. Services are available 24-7, but you must schedule an appointment in advance. Amwell has some of the strictest employee requirements. In addition to needing a license, therapists must have either a master’s or a doctorate. Because of this, Amwell is one of the few online therapy services with psychiatrists who can prescribe medication.
Amwell primarily offers counseling for anxiety, depression, PTSD and life transitions. There are also options for couple therapies. Sessions tend to last between 45 minutes to an hour. Costs range from $100 to $110. Amwell is compatible with some insurance providers as well, which further reduces costs.
Regain is a counseling service primarily aimed at married couples, but they also provide general relationship therapy. When you sign up for an account, you and your partner must answer a questionnaire. The website uses your answers to find prospective therapists best suited to help with your relationship. While it is not required, the website encourages video sessions whenever possible. Sessions are available with both partners present as well as one-on-one. The website uses a monthly subscription basis, which costs between $240 and $360, based on your location and therapist preferences.