A lot is happening in the word today – some good, some bad – and for the most part, they all take a toll on our health. Look around (like, literally look around or scan your timeline or Twitter feed). You may have noticed that we’re making huge strides in destigmatizing mental illness, and that’s fantastic. The importance of treating your mental health as you would your physical health is a pretty well accepted principle. And it’s becoming less taboo to talk openly about therapy and mental illness and that’s awesome.
When it comes to actually being mentally well, we’re a little murky on the follow-through. There’s no shortage of self-care strategies out there, but not everyone has the time to go on a wellness retreat or horse therapy. Some are even still too ashamed to have a face-to-face with a therapist.
The good news is that there is a growing wave of online therapy on the internet. Now that saves you time, and dignity (if you will). This new normal is tagged ‘Teletherapy’.
Goodsworth explores what teletherapy means, how it works, and best companies to find in this field.
What is Teletherapy?
Once upon a time, to get therapy, we needed to go to a physical office. For people with social anxiety, that was extremely challenging at times. Leaving the house was a battle of its own, but with the advent of the internet, going to therapy has become possible without going anywhere at all. If you’re socially anxious, you can remain in the privacy of your own home while talking to your online therapist. This is made possible through teletherapy.
Teletherapy is the online delivery of speech, occupational, and mental health therapy services online via live video conferencing or on phone. Teletherapy sessions are similar to traditional speech, occupational therapy, or mental health sessions with one major exception.
It’s not easy to develop a trusting relationship with a mental health professional, particularly if you have anxiety. You might be fearful of opening up to your therapist because you’re scared of being judged. Maybe you think your thoughts are weird. Perhaps you think you’re strange. It’s not unheard of to feel misunderstood, and that’s why we’re sometimes afraid of sharing our vulnerabilities with others.
However, to develop a bond with anyone, you have to learn to trust them. Trust is one of the most foundational elements of the relationship between a client and a therapist. If you believe your therapist, you can speak freely and start to change problematic behaviors. If you don’t trust your therapist, you’re less likely to be able to grow emotionally. You won’t be candid with them, and they won’t see your vulnerability. Learning to form trust and a bond with your mental health professional takes time, and it can happen in teletherapy. It may even occur faster than you believed was possible.
How it Works
Teletherapy is any remote therapy that uses technology to help the therapist and client communicate. Teletherapy works by:
- doing therapy sessions over the phone
- having a group chat for group therapy
- using videoconferencing for individual, couples, or group therapy
- receiving therapy via email or instant messenger
- using apps that connect clients to therapists and offer therapy within the app
Benefits of Teletherapy
Teletherapy provides a range of benefits in comparison with traditional therapy.
For Therapy Clients
Most research suggests that teletherapy can be as effective as in-person therapy. The benefits of seeking research-supported teletherapy with a licensed therapist include:
Greater access to care: Some people are unable to use traditional therapy due to physical disabilities, geographic location, or scheduling issues.
Lower costs: Teletherapy may help clients save money on treatment. Clients are also likely to incur fewer therapy-associated expenses when they do not have to travel to receive treatment or pay for child care.
High satisfaction: Users of quality teletherapy report high satisfaction with treatment.
More privacy: People who choose teletherapy do not have to sit in busy waiting rooms but can seek treatment in the privacy of their own homes. For some, this alleviates privacy concerns.
Better public health: The COVID-19 health crisis demonstrates that the ability to seek medical care at home can slow the spread of illness and protect vulnerable populations. Teletherapy allows people to get mental health treatment at home without risking the spread of infection during epidemics and pandemics.
Some therapists may find that teletherapy suits their personal style and allows them to meet their practice goals. Some benefits include:
Reduced overheads: Maintaining an office can be expensive. Therapists who switch to a telehealth-only model can eliminate many of their overheads. Those who offer part-time teletherapy may be able to rent office space on just a few days of the week, lowering costs.
The ability to reach more clients: Telehealth may improve access to therapy for people with disabilities, financial worries, transportation difficulties, and other barriers. This improved access enables therapists to help more people. Widening their potential consumer base can help therapists earn more money.
A shorter commute: A therapist who exclusively offers teletherapy may be able to support clients from home, reducing or eliminating their commute.
5 Teletherapy Services to Help with Mental Health and Stress
Texting, phone calls and video conferencing have made it easier than ever to get mental healthcare from wherever you are. Gone are the days when you had to sit on a therapist’s couch to get help, especially during the pandemic. With less social connection, shorter daylight hours and the approaching holiday stress, now might be an opportune moment to talk to a licensed online therapist. Some online therapy services, like Talkspace, even allow you to give the gift of therapy to loved ones.
|Talkspace||Asynchronous text, video and voice message||Starts at $32/week|
|BetterHelp||Asynchronous messaging, live chat, live phone, video conferencing||Starts at $35/week|
|Doctor on Demand||Live video sessions scheduled in advance||Starts at $129|
|MDLive||Pre-scheduled phone or video sessions||Up to $108 per session|
|Amwell||Live video sessions||Determined by therapist|
How it works: Onboarding takes place with a chatbot, which tells you about the platform and then asks you a few very basic questions. To answer, you choose from available responses and then you’re immediately given a few possible therapist matches who can help with your specific needs.
Therapists: More than 5,000 licensed therapists who each have more than 3,000 hours of clinical experience. Each one has been vetted by Talkspace and trained to use the platform.
Services: Talkspace offers three tiers of service. With each one you’re able to send your therapist an unlimited number of text, video and audio messages and your therapist will respond daily, five days a week. With the more expensive tiers, you also get either one or four live video sessions a month, though anyone can add on live 30-minute video sessions for an additional cost.
Cost: $260-$396 per month, depending on which plan you choose. If you pay for three or six months upfront, you can save 10-20% on the overall cost.
There are no contracts and you can cancel your plan at any time. For financial assistance, check with your human resources department; Talkspace works with health plans to provide online therapy to employees through employee assistance programs and behavioral health benefits.
How it works: You’re asked a variety of questions that touch on your gender identity, sexual orientation, mood and more that only take a minute or two to answer. After that you’ll be matched with a therapist — usually within 24 hours or less. You can read a bit about the counselor and then message them, or request a new match specifying any preferences, like gender.
Therapists: More than 4,000 licensed and vetted psychologists (PhD/PsyD), marriage and family therapists (LMFT), clinical social workers (LCSW / LMSW), or licensed professional counselors (LPC). Each therapist has a masters or doctorate degree in their field, plus at least 3 years and 2,000 hours of relevant experience.
Services: You get access to unlimited text-based messaging and live weekly interactions that are scheduled in advance and conducted by phone, video or chat. BetterHelp provides more than 150 digital worksheets and modules to help you in treatment and also provides free access to more than 20 live group therapy sessions.
Cost: $80-$100 per week. The pricing is based on your location, preferences and therapist availability. BetterHelp doesn’t work with any insurance companies or employers. As a result, services are usually not covered by health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, but you should check your specific plan details. You can cancel your BetterHelp membership at any time.
Doctor on Demand
How it works: Take a free mental health assessment to see if you’d benefit from talking to a therapist or dive right in by creating a free account. Once you do, you’ll be shown a list of available therapists. Unfortunately, there’s no way to search or sort by preference. Schedule your first session with the counselor of your choice.
Therapists: Hundreds of licensed psychologists and board-certified psychiatrists, as well as doctors who can provide urgent or preventative healthcare.
Services: Live video sessions that are scheduled in advance.
Cost: $129 for 25 minutes or $179 for 50 minutes for a psychology appointment; $299 for an initial 45-minute psychiatric consultation and $129 for each 15-minute follow up. Dr. On Demand also accepts insurance and works with more than 400 employers.
How it works: Register for free and choose a reason for your visit. After answering a few questions, you’ll be shown a list of available therapists and their bios, which you can sort by specialty, language and gender. Appointments must be requested; they’re not instantly booked.
Therapists: Licensed mental health professionals and board-certified physicians, including psychiatrists. All providers receive telehealth training and undergo background checks.
Services: Pre-scheduled phone or video sessions.
Cost: Up to $108 per session, depending on your insurance. MDLive accepts insurance and also partners with a variety of employers and health plans.
How it works: After creating a free account and adding your insurance information, if applicable, you’re able to navigate Amwell’s entire platform, which, in addition to therapy, includes urgent care and specialty care, like dermatology. Click on the therapy tab and you’ll be given a list of licensed therapists in your state with limited information about each. From there you can schedule your first appointment.
Therapists: Hundreds of licensed psychologists that have either a master’s degree or doctorate in their field. Each is trained in telehealth prevention and treatment techniques. Amwell also offers online psychiatrists who can prescribe medications, as well as a national network of U.S. board-certified clinicians to manage other medical needs.
Services: Live video sessions that are scheduled in advance. Therapists are available 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST, 7 days per week.
Cost: $99 to see someone with a master’s degree; $110 for a therapist with a PhD. All sessions are 45 minutes. Amwell works with a variety of employers and leading health plans, so you may end up only paying a copay or whatever is needed to meet your deductible.