Online therapy has become increasingly popular during the COVID-19 pandemic as people have been unable to access face-to-face support. Remote counseling was already being used pre-pandemic due to the accessibility, availability, flexibility and privacy it offers but interest has soared since early 2020. Even though teletherapy has only recently become more mainstream, a 2016 study showed it to be equally as effective as face-to-face therapy.
If you, or a loved one, need professional counseling, finding the right therapist is an important first step. This blog includes five useful tips on how to find a good therapist online.
When and why to start therapy
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 US adults experience mental health issues each year. The pressures of everyday life can sometimes seem overwhelming – whether it’s stress, anxiety, depression, addiction, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), LGBTQ+ issues, relationship conflict or another problem. Sometimes, talking to a trusted friend or family member can help but for more deep-rooted issues a professional therapist can be a better option.
How do you know when it’s time to find a therapist? The American Psychological Association suggests considering therapy if:
- You feel consumed with helplessness and sadness, and your problems are not improving despite your efforts and help from friends and loved ones.
- You are struggling to carry out everyday activities at home and work.
- You worry excessively, feel constantly on edge and are unable to relax.
- Your actions are harming yourself and/or other people – for example you are drinking too much alcohol, taking illegal substances or becoming aggressive and abusive.
Dive Deeper: 6 Common Fears of Starting Therapy
Five tips for finding a good online therapist
If you’re considering therapy, finding a good online therapist can be a challenge. There may not be many suitable options in your area or there could be a long waiting list. However, getting the right support can be life changing so it’s well worth the effort to find a therapist that’s right for you. They can give you the skills and confidence to control and change your unhealthy behaviors forever.
Here are five tips to help you find a therapist, counselor, psychologist or other professional to improve your mental health and well-being:
1. Ask for a recommendation
Ask your friends and family if they can suggest a therapist, if you feel comfortable doing so. Other contacts in your wider network may also be able to recommend a therapist including your school, college or university; insurance provider; workplace (is there any employee assistance program?); doctor or another professional you know and trust.
A referral is often helpful, however it’s worth noting that it might not necessarily be the best fit for you. Everyone is different and the right therapist depends on your personal situation and specific needs.
2. Think about your goals for therapy
Working out what you would like to get out of therapy will help you find the right therapist. Here are a few issues you might want to focus on:
- stress, anxiety or depression
- behavioral addiction such as problematic gambling or gaming, OCD, eating disorder, sex addiction, etc
- trauma or grief
- relationship conflict or breakdown
- substance or alcohol abuse
- any other mental health condition or emotional issue you would like help with.
Try to think about your short-term and longer-term goals for therapy. If you are unsure, a good therapist will help you identify some objectives and devise a treatment plan to help you achieve them. Many therapists offer a free initial consultation where you can discuss your goals and ask any questions.
3. Consider different types of therapy
Think about what type of therapy you want to try as there are many kinds of modalities available. Find out whether your preferred therapist uses evidence-based treatment practices. These are therapies that have been tested scientifically and shown to be effective. Discuss the therapies they offer and which ones align with your particular issue and goals. They may recommend one approach or a combination of different methods. Common types of therapy to consider include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Motivational interviewing
- Imaginal desensitization
- Contingency management
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
- Emotionally focused therapy (EFT)
4. Look at credentials
When you have found a potential therapist, it’s important to check their credentials to make sure they are fully qualified. You might see these acronyms after the name of a therapist:
- LCSW: Licensed clinical social worker
- LPC: Licensed professional counselor
- LPC-A: Licensed professional counselor, associate
- LPC-S: Licensed professional counselor, supervisor
- LMHC: Licensed mental health counselor
- LMFT: Licensed marriage and family therapist
Therapists might also have credentials for a specific type of therapy they practice, for example, they might also hold a gambling and/or gaming treatment certificate.
You do not necessarily need a therapist to provide treatment, as long as the person is fully qualified and experienced in providing the type of therapy you require. You might also consider getting therapy from a counselor, psychologist, social worker or psychotherapist.
5. Ask questions before starting treatment
When you have found a therapist, it may be helpful to ask the following questions to ensure you and your therapist are well matched before starting your treatment plan:
- Are you a fully-licensed therapist?
- What is teletherapy, what does it involve and do you offer it?
- How many years have you been practicing?
- What is your area of expertise?
- How much experience do you have dealing with [the issue for which you are seeking therapy]?
- What types of therapy have you found to be effective in resolving [the issue for which you are seeking therapy]?
- Do you offer different therapeutic styles, including individual, couples, family and group therapy?
- Do you treat overall mental health and well-being, not simply [the issue for which you are seeking therapy]?
- When can I expect to start feeling the benefits of therapy?
- What will happen if the treatment plan isn’t working?
- How many therapy sessions are provided, how much will it cost and are there any additional fees?
How Kindbridge can help
At Kindbridge we make fully-licensed therapists accessible to everyone by offering high-quality, online services. Specialist therapy is available for a wide range of mental health conditions using evidence-based treatment approaches.
The average wait for mental health services across the US is 21 days. With Kindbridge, we have immediate availability and you can start your journey to recovery in the next 24 hours.
Get in touch today to book your free and confidential 30-minute consultation.