How To Get the Most Out Of Online Therapy

Updated May 26, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Nicole Gaines, LPC

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Online Therapy - Is Online Therapy Worth It?

Millions of people turn to therapy to help them through tough times in life. Whether that be

or any of the other varieties of therapy, it can be an invaluable tool when life gets hard.

An increasing number of people are seeing a counselor with online therapy. Online therapy is an online way to access professional therapists and has numerous advantages over in-person therapy, including lower cost and the convenience of completing your therapy from your own home. However, just because someone chooses to undergo therapy does not automatically mean that virtual therapy will work for them. If you decide to seek help via online therapy, here are some ways to ensure that you get the most out of your experience.

Online Therapy - Do You Need An Online Therapy Plan?

You must go into a therapy session with an online therapist to clarify what you would like to accomplish. If you keep a journal, try to write about any challenges you face that you would like to discuss with your online therapist.

If you do not have a journal, a simple list will do the trick. In the week leading up to your first therapy appointment, anytime something makes you feel a negative emotion, write it down. One of the advantages of online therapy over traditional therapy is that you can have these materials right before working with the counselor. Going into the session with a clear idea of the things you want to work on means you and your therapist can focus on the important things and not waste any time simply trying to decide which areas of your life you want to discuss.

Online Therapy - Is it Important To Set Goals with Your Therapist During Your Therapy Session?

This is an elaboration of the first point. Beyond simply planning what you want to discuss with your counselor, think about how you want to feel following a therapy session and moving forward in the future. Knowing what you want to accomplish, and communicating these things with your therapist, will make your sessions much more worthwhile for all parties involved. Having an idea of your goals for therapy ensures that the time you spend chatting with your online counselor will not be wasted. Plus, doing so before starting therapy can help you find the therapist that is the right fit for you.

Online therapy tips in setting goals with your online counselor:

  • Be realistic with your therapist
  • Get specific with what you are looking to accomplish with your virtual counselor.
  • Make sure your goals are about you.
  • Create an action plan to reach your goals with your virtual counselor
  • Outline the steps needed to achieve these goals, be as specific as you need
  • Making sure you are setting new goals with your therapist after completing each set goal

Therapy: Don't Settle With Your Therapist

Another advantage of online therapy is the amount of choice you have as a patient. When working with a traditional in-person counselor, your choice is restricted by practicing in your area, which takes your insurance and other factors. But when you are working with a counselor over the internet, your amount of choice is multiplied.

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The best online therapy services will have a wide variety of therapists who you can choose to work with, with various specialties, backgrounds, and genders. Some therapists specialize in topics such as:

Some services, like ReGain, match you with a licensed counselor based on your wants and needs for therapy. Still, if you feel the match is not a good fit, you always have the freedom to switch to a different counselor who you feel is better suited for you. When it comes to finding the right counselor, it is okay to be picky. Do not settle for a counselor that you feel cannot help you accomplish your goals.

Online Therapy: How Do You Schedule Sessions Online?

Some online therapy services will have you schedule a 30 minute or hour-long session with your therapist as you would for an in-person session. Others are 24-hour services, in which you have an ongoing dialogue with your therapist and can update them on how you are feeling at any time of the day. Often, online therapy will be a mix of both formats. You will schedule certain times to have a long talk with your counselor but can also contact them at any time if something comes up.

Regardless of which form of online therapy you choose, it is important to prioritize time to work with your online counselor. Once you decide to work with a counselor, figure out when you can carve out some time to dedicate to your online therapy in your day or week. You may decide a certain day of the week is when you want to do one long update, or you may want to write a shorter message to your therapist every evening.

Whatever you choose, make the time you chat with your therapist your "me" time. If you live with other people, ask them not to bother you while you plan to chat with your counselor. This way, you can fully focus on your conversation and make sure you can communicate everything on your mind with online therapy.

Of course, if you choose a 24-hour therapy service, you can always send a quick message to your virtual counselor if there is something you feel you need to tell them immediately. But, it is also important to set aside some scheduled time to talk to them to get the most out of your therapy experience.

Be Realistic with Your Therapist and Constraints For Your Online Therapy

What should you remember when setting goals or scheduling time for your online therapy? First, be realistic about any time constraints you may be facing. While online therapy is far less time-consuming than traditional, in-person therapy, it is still important to commit yourself to dedicate the necessary time and energy towards your therapeutic efforts.

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Most people are very busy, and that is okay. If you only have thirty extra minutes in your week that you can devote to therapy, that is perfectly fine, but you need to keep that in mind when setting goals for yourself and your therapy. If you have major goals you want to accomplish, be realistic and realize that it may take a long time to get there if you only do a little bit of work a week. Remember that little things eventually add up to big things, and something is always better than nothing. But, be realistic about your time, and do not get discouraged if you feel that things are not moving along as quickly as you would like.

Should You Be Honest with Your Therapist In Online Therapy?

Another way you can think about being realistic is, to be honest with yourself about the time you can commit to therapy and what you can expect to accomplish in that amount of time. But, honesty is not only important when it comes to your goals.

When making your initial plan about what you want to work on with your counselor, it is extremely important to be honest about any struggles you face. Therapists are trained professionals and will never judge you for anything you tell them. Rather, it is crucial to be honest if you want to get the best possible outcomes from your therapy.

You should never feel embarrassed or ashamed about anything you need help with; therapists chose their career path because they want to help people overcome challenges. If you keep things concealed, you will not get the maximum benefit out of your time and financial investment that you make in therapy.

Online Therapy - Should You Always Take Guidance from Your Online Therapist in Online Therapy?

Your therapist cannot force you to do anything. All they can do is offer their opinion on your situation and give you suggestions on how you can work on things to feel better. Other than that, the power is in your hands. That being said, it is important to take the guidance of your counselor if you want to get anything out of your sessions. Some people feel better simply having someone to whom they can unload all of their worries, and for them, no outside work will be necessary. But, most people seek more from their online therapy experiences.

There is a saying with fitness that exercise "won't work unless you do." The same can be said about online therapy. If your therapists instruct you to do something or give you "homework," such as writing in a journal, it is because those activities are crucial to your treatment and will have a positive impact on your life. If you cannot do everything your therapist asks you due to time constraints, that is okay, but be sure to let them know to create a new plan for you. Doing at least some of your counselor's work is key to getting the most out of the experience.

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Online Therapy - How Do You Talk to Your Partner About Online Therapy?

If you seek virtual therapy for personal problems and would like to keep those things private, do not feel pressured to share with anyone else. But, if your reasons for seeking therapy have to do with your relationship, it can be very beneficial to discuss this with your partner. If you feel you need to seek help from a therapist to work on your relationship, your partner must know this to improve the relationship.

In some cases, you may even choose to ask your partner to participate in online therapy with you as a couple. This way, the dialogue with the counselor or therapist becomes three-way. Couples therapy can be a positive addition to a relationship and teach partners things about each other that they continue to benefit from long after they cease working with a therapist regularly.

Online Therapy - Why is it Important To Remember to Be Compassionate During Online Therapy?

What typically happens during online therapy? People tend to uncover things about themselves that they had been trying to push away for a while. Or, talking to a therapist may simply lead you to realize things about yourself that you never realized before.

Learning these things is extremely beneficial in the long run, but it is not always pleasant in the present moment. Therapy may force you to face things about yourself that you do not like. If this situation occurs, remember to be kind to yourself. Do not get angry with yourself or beat yourself up if you realize some negative traits in yourself. Remember to be compassionate and that you are doing it to improve yourself. It is natural to feel upset upon learning certain things about yourself but try to keep in mind that online therapy is a learning experience. By learning these things, you can improve yourself and feel happier in the long run.

Online Therapy Is Personal

Therapy is a personal experience, and not everyone will go into it seeking the same things. But, keeping these nine things in mind can ensure that you will get the most out of online therapy, regardless of your specific goals.

If you're still wondering if therapy is right for you and how much therapy costs, please contact us at contact@regain.us. ReGain specializes in online therapy to help address all types of mental health concerns. If you're interested in individual therapy, please reach out to contact@regain.us. For more information about BetterHelp as a company, please find us on Pinterest, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Facebook & Tumblr.

If you need a crisis hotline or want to learn more about therapy, please see below:

RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) - 1-800-656-4673

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-8255

National Domestic Violence Hotline - 1-800-799-7233

NAMI Helpline (National Alliance on Mental Illness) - 1-800-950-6264

For more information on mental health, please see:

- SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

SAMHSA Facebook, SAMHSA Twitter, SAMHSA Youtube

- Mental Health America

MHA Twitter, MHA Facebook, MHA Instagram, MHA Pinterest, MHA Youtube

- WebMD

WebMD Facebook, WebMD Twitter, WebMD Pinterest

- NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health)

NIMH Facebook, NIMH Twitter, NIMH YouTube

- APA (American Psychiatric Association)

APA Twitter, APA Facebook, APA LinkedIn, APA Instagram

 


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