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Leah McCabe

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About Author — Leah likes writing about health and science subjects. Through her writing she hopes to help people of all backgrounds have equal access to information and quality healthcare.

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog.

Mental Health Counseling Online

The field of mental health counseling is rapidly changing as more virtual options become available to patients.

Patients seeking out mental health counseling can now see therapists online at their convenience, from the comfort of their own home, and often at a lower rate than seeing a counselor in person.

How Does Online Counseling Work?

In reality, online counseling is pretty similar to in-person care. So if you’ve had an in-person appointment before, you can expect to see much of the same in your online appointment.

Online therapists commonly practice CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and sessions run just short of an hour. Options like PlushCare allow you to log into a site and enter into a virtual session with a board-certified therapist.

Your therapist will:

  • Review your mental health history
  • Review your medications and existing diagnoses
  • And then jump into your appointment

Each session is essentially a problem-solving session. You describe your current situation, and your feelings about it, and then the therapist uses their expertise to assist you in trying to resolve that problem so you can move closer to having the life you wish to have.

Of course, every therapist is different, every client is unique, and every therapist-client relationship is distinct as well — which means that there is no universal description of a therapy session.

The Benefits of Online Counseling

Online therapy has been proven to be as effective as in-person mental healthcare for many conditions including anxiety, depression, stress, relationship problems, work issues, sleep issues and more. According to one study in the Canadian Medical Journal, “in some cases, online CBT was even more effective than traditional in-person therapy.”

While it’s not for everyone, particularly for those with complex diagnoses, many find online therapy to be a convenient, life-changing alternative to traditional in-person solutions.

Here are some of the other reasons people may choose online counseling.

  • Online counseling is often less expensive than traditional therapy.
  • Online counseling allows those who can’t get to a office — due to long commute times, lack of transportation or disability — access to mental health services.
  • Speaking to a counselor online is generally comfortable for most people and can be a less intimidating option than speaking to a therapist in person.
  • Online counseling opens the doors to more flexibility in scheduling your appointments.
  • Those who are embarassed or shy may find the relative anonymity of online therapy very helpful.
  • Many services also allow you to browse therapists to determine which counselor may work best for you.

How Much Does an Online Therapist Cost?

The cost of online counseling is going to vary greatly depending on what service you choose. Some providers offer only subscription counseling that costs between $65 $99 per week. That gets pricey really fast!

On average, you should expect to pay about $100 for online counseling. But again, many providers offer subscription services, which can make it far more expensive depending on how much you use the service. PlushCare has no subscription model for therapy. Appointments are a flat rate.

Can an Online Counselor Prescribe Medication?

Online counselors, therapists and social workers cannot prescribe medication. Medications can only be prescribed by psychiatrists.

However, it’s important to note that there are now many online psychiatry options too. PlushCare has recently hired its first psychiatrist, available to New York and California patients.

Final Thoughts

We hope you’ll join us in our mission to make healthcare more accessible and affordable. If you have any questions about our counseling and psychiatry offerings, please don’t hesitate to email [email protected].

Read More About Online Counseling

Psych Central. Types of Mental Health Professionals. Accessed online on August 13, 2019 at

Very Well Mind. What You Need to Know About Online Therapy. Accessed online on August 13, 2019 at

Online Counseling Directory. Advantages of Online Counseling. Accessed online on August 13, 2019 at

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