For the past few months, I have been offering online therapy through a company called BetterHelp.
So, what is online therapy?
It is just like regular therapy that you would seek out with a private counselor, but you do it all online. There are a lot of advantages to this modality of therapy. It is convenient in that you can do it from your own home (both counselor and client). It is also flexible because you are able to message your therapist anytime. The cost is also a huge plus, for both sides. If a client's sessions are not covered by insurance, then this is a great option. The cost is minimal compared to what you would pay per session out of pocket to see a counselor. For the counselor, it saves on having to rent office space, the biggest expense in opening a private practice.
So, how does it work?
I can't speak for anything other than how BetterHelp works, so bear that in mind. What happens is a client signs up for the service online. They answer a few questions about what they want and what they expect out of counseling and they are then paired with a counselor based on those answers. I give my clients two options at the beginning of therapy. They can either schedule live sessions with me through phone, video, or chatting. The second option I give is through messaging. This works, basically as emails back and forth. I answer those once a day.
As far as a review, I would have to say that I really enjoy working online with clients, for the most part. I like that I do not have to "recruit" clients or worry about referral sources. I also really like that I can plan on a time frame that works for me to respond to messages. Plus, you can't beat the convenience. There is an app that you can download as both client and counselor. This was a game changer for me. It has made responding to messages easier for me. You can only respond to messages and do phone sessions through the app, though that's probably for the better.
That's not to say that there haven't been any drawbacks. I have found myself learning more about the site as I go, much to the chagrin of my clients. That has caused some problems, albeit small ones. There have also been a few times that I have been unavailable to respond to messages. This is more of a problem for myself and my irrational guilt than anything regarding my clients.
Overall, BetterHelp has been a great tool. I have been able to work with more clients, gaining more experience as I go than I ever would have in the short time that I opened my practice. It's also been a great experience for my clients, as writing is very therapeutic and they can go back and reread things that we both have written. I don't think it will ever substitute good old fashioned face-to-face counseling, but for clients that don't have access to traditional therapy, this is a great option.