How To Get the Most Out Of Online Therapy

Updated December 21, 2020

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?

It is important that you go into a therapy session with an online therapist with a clear idea of what you would like to accomplish. If you keep a journal, try to write about any challenges you are facing 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 in front of you as you work 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 get 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 who is practicing in your area, who 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 a variety of specialties, backgrounds, and genders. There are therapists who 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 in your day or week you can carve out some time to dedicate to your online therapy. 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 that is 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 that you will 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 are only doing 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 that you need 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 are facing. 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 are unable to do everything your therapist asks you due to time constraints, that is okay, but be sure to let them know so they can create a new plan for you. Doing at least some of the work that your counselor gives you 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, it is important that your partner knows this so that they can also work towards improving 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 very positive addition to a relationship and teach partners things about each other that they continue to benefit from long after they cease to work 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 are 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, and 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 what your specific goals are.

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

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Online Therapy

Is online therapy as effective?

  • If you are looking for the best therapy, chances are that you’ve wondered whether or not virtual therapy programs provide as much therapeutic effectiveness as in-person therapy. It may surprise you that virtual therapy programs have been around for decades even for specialties like psychotherapy, and are considered just as effective as traditional therapy. The exception for this may be for people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and may need light therapy from a traditional therapist for treatment.

  • When it comes to finding mental health treatment, what matters is that you are comfortable enough to communicate with a therapist during the therapeutic process. Some people are simply more comfortable with therapeutic or therapy programs that offers virtual therapy. A virtual therapy platform gives people the option to get help without leaving their home, and can help people who have found that traditional therapeutic therapy isn’t a good match for them. The best therapist is the one you are able to communicate with, even if it happens via a virtual chat session with a therapist.

  • Virtual therapeutic therapy programs offer the same array of specialties that traditional therapy does, which can include cognitive behavioral therapy or behavioral therapy or psychotherapy, along with talk therapy and other therapy options. The best therapist for you depends on your therapeutic needs. You can search for family therapists clinical social workers, which can help you find family therapists licensed clinical social workers to help address family mental health issues. Marriage and family therapists help families that are also experiencing issues between the parents that may not be appropriate for discussion in front of their children. Virtual marriage therapy is another option for couples that don’t have children, or whose children are thriving and aren’t involved in the family discord. Anytime children are involved in the discord, however, seeking family therapists clinical social workers is important so that the entire family can benefit from the therapy sessions.

What is the best virtual therapy?

  • You can opt to use messaging therapy or livetalk therapy. Virtual therapy also has the advantage of making it easy for a change in therapists if your current therapist isn’t available when you are, or if the therapist isn’t a good match for your needs, be it because they’re an older therapist or a different gender than you.

Is virtual therapy cheaper? 100

  • When finding the best counselor or therapist for you, oftentimes cost is a factor in making your decision. With in-person therapy sessions costing upwards of $250 per session. In comparison, virtual therapy programs typically cost less than $100 per week. Even the best virtual therapy options are still very affordable for nearly every budget, and they still employ licensed therapists even for specific types like psychotherapy.

Is there any free therapy?

  • Finding a site that offers virtual therapy for free can be a challenging process especially if you are looking for specific types of therapy like psychotherapy, as many free options don’t employ licensed therapists. Instead, they rely on volunteers or counselors, who may not have the tools or training necessary to help you work through your issues. Therapists clinical social workers and the like all go through years of schooling, and often have licenses, that make them experts at being able to provide therapy.

Which is better Talkspace or BetterHelp?

  • Once again, these two therapy programs provide similar therapy options. Which is the best therapy option for you depends on your needs. 

Is 7 cups therapy free?

  • 7 Cups does offer some services for free, that allow you to talk to a “trained listener” instead of paying for licensed therapist. However, these listeners are only able to be an open ear for you. Therapists offer actual help for those in need of mental health services, because they are trained professionals. Therapists can access years of experience to provide their services, helping you find lasting positive change with your mental health issues.

Are there any free therapists?

  • There may be a therapist or therapists in your state that offer free therapy through certain institutions, like your local health department or community outreach programs. In addition, some colleges that have therapy programs offer free or discounted sessions.

Does 7 cups cost money?

  • As with many therapy programs, to be able to speak with a licensed therapist on 7 Cups you must pay for a monthly membership.

How much does virtual therapy cost?

  • Therapy virtually varies in cost. Some sites offer a free trial for new clients. After that, web therapy costs money. Talking to your therapist has a variety of options such as audio messaging, texting video chat session requests, or on the phone with your therapist. Quality mental health professionals care about their clients. Whether you see a therapist in-person or therapist virtually, you definitely have options. In addition to seeing a therapist in person, you can also find affordable therapist options virtually. Some sites offer therapist sessions as low as $40 a meeting. The price of therapy virtually with a therapist differs depending on your needs. Shop around for your therapist, but make sure that the therapists are licensed wherever you seek therapy virtually. 

Is virtual therapy legit?

  • Therapy virtually is a legitimate form of mental health treatment. You can develop a relationship with your therapist just as you would in a face-to-face meeting with your therapist. You are developing a healthy relationship with your therapist, and that matters. That way, you can get the most out of treatment with your therapist. Virtual therapists are licensed mental health professionals who take their jobs seriously. They have practical experience working with clients. Virtual therapists want to help their clients with issues like living with anxiety or coping with bipolar disorder. A counselor or therapist understands many mental health concerns. Finding a therapist who takes your insurance can be challenging. However, discovering affordable therapy virtually with a therapist is relatively easy. It’s cost-effective, and it works. More than a million people have tried therapy virtually with a therapist and highly recommend it. Just like an in-person therapist, a virtual mental health provider or therapist cares about your mental health. And a therapist can provide treatment in the medium that works best for you, whether it’s internet based or telehealth, meaning speaking on the phone with your provider. You can find a therapist who understands your needs and can provide the treatment that works for you.

Does insurance pay for virtual therapy?

  • Some insurance pays for therapy virtually with a therapist. It’s important to check with your health care company and find out if they cover this kind of treatment with a therapist. Internet based therapy is an excellent form of therapy. Some insurance companies see the value of including therapy virtually. When you have a counselor or therapist virtually, you can work on a stress management plan. More insurance companies should recognize this and get on board with covering therapy virtually with a therapist. 

How can I get free therapy?

  • Finding free therapy with a therapist can be challenging especially for specific types like psychotherapy. Mental health treatment is an investment, whether you see a therapist for yourself or in couples therapy, you’re making an investment in your mental health. You can weigh the pros and cons of paying for therapy. When you think about it, there are so many benefits of seeing a therapist. 

Why is therapy so expensive?

  • One of the therapy barriers is affording it. That’s why treatment virtually is valuable. t’s affordable, and you can send your therapist a message at any time of the day. The therapists providing therapy virtually read their messages often. It’s essential for therapists who provide therapy virtually read their messages from their clients. Thousands of people are talking or messaging with their therapist virtually daily. When you weigh the pros and cons of therapy virtually, there are so many positives. With thousands of people signing up there has to be some value in mental health treatment virtually. Reviews of those who have received therapy virtually can show you what people experience when they engage in distance therapy. You may be skeptical about trying it, but once you read therapy virtually reviews your mind may change.

How much does it cost to talk to a therapist?

  • Cost of talking to a therapist depends on why you're seeing them. In-person therapy can cost over $200 a session. Whereas, therapy over the internet may be $40 a meeting. It’s more effective than participating in support groups, in some ways, to speak to a therapist virtually. Unlike these forums, therapy virtually provides individualized attention from your provider. Also, there are confidentiality clauses in place with treatment over the internet. A counselor or therapist reads to the client from the privacy policy if there are any concerns about confidential information. 

Are therapists worth it?

  • Yes. You can improve your self-awareness, with a personal therapist, or work through issues with your partner. Couples see a lot of benefit from therapy. It could be you and your partner participating in marriage therapy, psychotherapy, or using therapy over the internet for long-term relationship concerns. Not only married couples attend couples therapy. Whether you see an individual therapist for psychotherapy, or see a couples therapist for you and your partner, you can get enormous benefits from therapy. 

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