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All There is to Know About Online Therapy

writtenByWritten by: Melissa Dowd (Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist)
Melissa Dowd (Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist)

Melissa Dowd (Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist)

Melissa Dowd received her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Dominican University of CA and is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. In addition to her work as a clinical therapist, Melissa is passionate about promoting emotional wellness through leading workshops, guest appearances, and across social media platforms.

Read more posts by this author.

November 18, 2020 Read Time - 6 minutes

Online Therapy | How it Works and if it’s Right For You

Online therapy is another example of how traditional services are being translated into virtual experiences that you can take with you anywhere. With a variety of online platforms, therapy, chat rooms, and general mental health services, getting treatment online has never been easier.

  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

Talk to an Online Therapist PlushCare-App-Steps

How Does Online Therapy Work?

Online therapy platforms are revolutionizing the way people are able to access critical treatment. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, online services were a growing industry with plenty of sites to choose from. Still, you may find yourself wondering, is online therapy legit?

Fortunately yes, online therapy is legit. Study after study has shown it to be just as effective as traditional therapy, with the added convenience of receiving treatment anywhere at any time. 

But does insurance cover online therapy? In some cases, yes. This will of course vary from one insurance plan to another, so make sure to ask your insurance provider. Also be sure to check that the online therapy platform you’re using takes your insurance, before booking.

What to Consider Before Trying Online Therapy

  • What kind of therapy are you looking for? If you’ve been to therapy before consider what you liked and didn’t like from in-person therapy. If you’re new to therapy, take a look below at some important questions to consider when choosing an online service.
  • How often do you want treatment? Is it important for you to have several appointments a week, or do you just want a monthly check up?
  • How would you like to communicate with your therapist? Over video chat, over the phone, through text, or email, a combination of these?
  • What is your budget? There are a variety of price points for any budget in online therapy.
  • What kind of therapy are you looking for? There’s individual or couple’s therapy, career therapy, grief therapy, family therapy, etc. Take the time to consider what it is you’re seeking help for.
  • What kind of environment do you want to take your therapy in? We recommend finding a space that’s appropriate for therapy where you can give it your full attention and have complete privacy. Similarly, you’re going to need good wifi or cell service if you’re on the phone or video chatting to ensure there are no interruptions during your session

Read: How Much Does Online Therapy Cost?


Why Online Therapy is Gaining Traction

Online therapy is gaining traction for a number of reasons. First, let’s address the obvious: COVID-19. Like most things in our lives, therapy services have been forced to go online for the time being due to social distancing policy.

It’s simply not safe to be in another room with someone who might be sick, and wearing masks during a therapy session can be distracting, and for that reason, therapy went virtual. However, long before COVID-19 struck, online platforms were hosting thousands of therapists for you to talk to.

Online therapy just makes sense. In this age, we communicate with one another constantly using our phones and computers. So, it’s only natural that therapy, a service at its core about communication, was made possible and popular online.

By expanding therapy into online platforms, the number of people who have access to these services goes up, costs are reduced, and new benefits emerge.

  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

Talk to an Online Therapist PlushCare-App-Steps

How to Find an Online Therapist and What to Ask Before Starting Treatment

Unlike in-person therapy, finding an online therapist can be a very structured process.

Before starting therapy, make sure to have answers to the following question:

  • Do they take your insurance?
  • What are their areas of expertise?
  • How much experience do they have?
  • Where did your prospective therapist or psychiatrist go to school?
  • Do they have specialty board certifications?

Just as with in-person therapy, you might find it useful to get a personal recommendation for a specific service. Having a friend or family member point you in the right direction can give you the extra boost of confidence in a service that might actually get you to sign up!

Additionally, your primary care physician can be a great starting point. The PCPs at PlushCare often help patients find mental health treatment, and can even provide mental health prescriptions themselves.


Read: How to Find a Therapist


Difference Between an Online Therapist and an Online Psychiatrist

Online therapists and an online psychiatrists differ in the same ways online as they do in-person

  • A therapist is a mental health expert, trained to help individuals resolve issues with their thoughts, emotions, behavior, and relationships. The term “therapist” is used to refer to a wide range of specialists who provide a variety of treatment and rehabilitative options.
  • A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who, like a therapist, specializes in mental health issues. However, a psychiatrist is qualified to assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems. They are trained as physicians, and perform both medical and psychological tests to provide a concrete background of a person’s physical and mental state. In this way, a psychiatrist can write prescriptions for medication, such as antidepressants, that therapists cannot. 

Does PlushCare Offer Mental Health Services?

At PlushCare, we’re proud to offer the best online therapy service available in California.

Therapy patients frequently report feeling less anxious, improved self esteem, and general mood improvements.

Click here to set up an appointment with one of our California licensed therapists who you can talk to you from the comfort of your home. 

Still not sure if therapy is right for you? Take the assessment below to find out.

  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

Talk to an Online Therapist PlushCare-App-Steps

Assessment: Do I Need Therapy?

Answer the following questions as accurately as possible to find out if you may benefit from therapy or mental health support.

Mental health disorders are extremely common and very treatable. The earlier treatment starts the better, so don't hesitate to reach out to a medical professional if you're struggling. For many mental health disorders talk therapy combined with medication therapy is the first line of treatment.

This quiz is not a diagnostic tool but can be used to help determine tendencies associated with mental health disorders and recommend the appropriate treatment.

If you'd like to speak with a top online therapist about your mental health, book an appointment here.

I am concerned about a behavior, feeling, or something I am doing.
I find it more difficult to cope with things than usual.
I have trouble concentrating at work or school.
I read books or go on the Internet to discover more about the behavior or feeling that’s troubling me.
Over the past year, I’ve had a lot of trouble sleeping because of all my worries.
I feel that there's something wrong with my body even though doctors tell me I’m fine.
I'm scared and nervous in public, and this is a big problem in my life.
I relive a terrible event that happened to me a long time ago.
I use more and more alcohol or drugs so I can deal with my problems better.
My drug or alcohol use causes problems in my job or relationships.
It’s hard for me to feel happy doing things I used to enjoy.
I eat a lot of food all at once and then make myself throw up.
I harm myself on purpose or do risky things without thinking.

Read More About Online Therapy


Article sources

apa.org. A growing wave of online therapy. Accessed on July 9, 2020. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/02/online-therapy

apa.org. What you need to know before choosing online therapy. Accessed on July 9, 2020. https://www.apa.org/topics/online-therapy

tandfonline.com. Best Practice in Online Therapy. Accessed on November 9, 2020. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15228830802097257?casa_token7

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. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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