How to Find the Right Online Therapist for You
Interested in trying online therapy? Get $100 off Talkspace services with code MIGHTY here.
Seeking a therapist can feel overwhelming, daunting and a little bit scary. What will they ask me? How will I feel? Do I need to tell them everything? What if I feel uncomfortable? The questions we ask ourselves are often what hold us back from making that first appointment. However, professional counseling is often the missing link when it comes to managing our mental health, and sometimes the best person for you might actually be online.
Two therapists from Talkspace, Kate Rosenblatt LMHC, LPC, and Amy Cirbus PhD, LMHC , answer some of the most common questions from The Mighty community regarding online therapy. Talkspace’s mission is to provide more people with convenient, affordable access to licensed providers who can help those in need to live a happier and healthier life. Talkspace aims to present more people with the opportunity to utilize and benefit from therapy in a stigma-free environment.
See their answers to the community’s questions below:
Is there a difference in treatments if I see someone online versus in person?
Online therapy has similarities and differences to in-person therapy. The biggest difference is how you communicate with your therapist. In-person therapy typically involves meeting in an office for a 50-minute or 1-hour appointment (frequency can vary depending on your specific needs). With online therapy, you can often send a text, audio or video message to your therapist anytime you like. Depending on your plan and insurance, regular live video sessions can happen too and can conveniently take place from almost anywhere.
One of the distinct advantages of online therapy is the ability to reach out to your therapist more frequently instead of waiting for your weekly in-office appointment. Being able to get support, work on your goals and check in with your therapist throughout the week can make a significant difference.
How do I know if my therapist is a good fit for me, especially in a virtual setting?
Therapists vary in their specialities and offer different types of treatment, regardless of whether you see them in person or online. The best way to understand what to expect with your therapist is to ask questions about their qualifications, approach and areas of expertise.
Finding the right fit can be really hard; it can take some trial and error. Therapists are human too, which means they may not be aligned with your wants, needs and values. And that’s OK! It’s important to find someone who is possibly in a similar life phase (so they relate to some of the experiences you have) and specializes in treatments that are relevant to your needs. Having followers, reviewers or other clients attesting to their competence helps too.
After the first few sessions, whether in-person or virtual, start to ask yourself some important questions. Does your therapist spend more time listening than talking? Is this a person who demonstrates empathy and tries to “walk in your shoes?” Do you feel like they are open-minded and fluid? In therapy sessions, clients should be encouraged to lead the way, so it’s important that your therapist is a gentle guide, mentor and facilitator to help you move toward your goals. If they seem to take over the conversation, lack empathy in their responses or appear close-minded to your life situation, they may not be the best fit.
I’m not sure how to articulate my feelings. What if I can’t express myself?
Everyone is different in how they express their feelings. Some find that activities like art, movement, music and spoken word are the best ways to convey emotions. One of the great things about online therapy is that it allows you to use these mediums (and more) to communicate your feelings to your therapist. Try breaking the ice by sending your therapist memes, videos and songs that resonate with you. It’s also important to always go at your own pace when it comes to sharing what’s on your mind.
Will they be able to understand/read how you are feeling on just a computer screen?
If you are writing to your therapist, you may need to be more direct about how you are feeling since your therapist won’t be able to hear your tone of voice or see your body language. Consider using other methods of communication, too, like leaving your therapist a video or audio message or sending them some photos of your life. This can help your therapist get to know and understand you better.
I keep talking about the same things over and over in therapy — is this normal?
It’s completely normal (and typical) to repeat conversations in therapy until you reach a resolution! Sometimes you find it right away, and other times disclosing details can reveal it’s way more complex than you thought and will require more time to work through. That being said, if you feel like you’ve spent too much time on one particular subject, and it’s taking away from your ability to work through other things, tell your therapist you’re feeling stuck. We love your feedback!
I’m feeling OK (I’ve felt worse). How do I know if I should start therapy or wait?
Even if you are feeling OK overall, therapy can still be beneficial. It’s a great place to find non-judgmental support outside of your friends and family. Being in a fairly stable place in your life, as opposed to being in crisis, is also the perfect time to focus on creating and maintaining healthy habits and coping skills. Your therapist should also support you in identifying and achieving personal goals. Therapy is a space where you can reflect on your core values and use those values to create a meaningful life. It’s not only for times of urgency (although that’s important too!).
Can I choose my therapist? What if I want to change therapists?
Online therapy is, in many ways, like in-person therapy, so you can always choose your therapist. The client-provider relationship is an important factor to ensuring a successful outcome, so you’ll also be able to select a better match for you if it isn’t working out. However, it’s important to give your therapist a chance to work together for at least a few sessions before making the switch.
Is an online therapist available nationwide? I plan to travel in the near future and wonder if it will allow me to get care on the go.
Talkspace online therapy is available nationwide. If you are on a trip or traveling, you can stay in touch with your therapist and continue working on your mental health goals.
Where can I go to try online therapy?
Interested in trying online therapy? Talkspace partners with some insurance plans. Even if you don’t have an insurance plan that covers mental health services like Talksapce, online therapy is typically less expensive than traditional face-to-face therapy. You may find that it fits your budget even if you are paying out-of-pocket.To help you get started, The Mighty has partnered with Talkspace to give Mighty members $100 off Talkspace services with code MIGHTY.