If there’s one form of health care that gets most readily swept under the rug, it’s mental health. 

Oftentimes, the conditions that lead to fragile mental health also do a great job at undermining one’s chances of getting the help one needs. 

Overworking, stressful family dynamics, marital difficulties, bullying, and so forth can drain individuals of the will, time or money needed to obtain proper mental health help. 

What if we told you that many of these elements that make it so hard to get the mental health care you need are actually alleviated by online therapy? 

Online therapy is typically much more affordable (often covered by insurance), often available 24/7, more data driven, and more easily accessible than traditional therapy settings. Put another way, online therapy is the best of traditional therapy (and therapists) available for talking through connected devices. 

So what should you look for in an online therapist? 

Here at OnlineDoctor.com, we’ve looked at a wide range of online therapy services

While we’ll step through some of the best ways to determine the proper therapist for you, just note that there’s truly no substitute for trying a therapy service yourself. There are many types of therapy, as well as many features that differ between online therapy providers. You can suss out the features that matter most to you before hand, but in the end some of the strongest predictors of your success with a therapy program will be your relationship with your therapist and your ability to regularly attend. 

With that said, there are several elements one should consider before choosing an online therapist.

First, do you need a specialized therapist? 

Therapists specialize in all sorts of things, from enhancing performance, to dealing with trauma, to eating disorders and marriage. Some of the most common specializations within online therapy services include:

  • Therapy for Teens
  • Marital Therapy
  • Therapy for Eating Disorders
  • Psychiatric Medicine Check Ups
  • Therapy for Depression

Many online therapy services specialize in one of the above areas. This can help as counselors and therapists will primarily have experience in dealing with individuals dealing with some of the same problems you have. Additionally, these services will often attract like minded communities that they can cater to via content, resources, and so forth. Many specialized online therapy services will often have a much greater number of clients that they have helped than a traditional practice. This leads to greater insights and range of resources catered to exactly what you’re going through. 

Second, how important is instant feedback? 

There is a range in delivery methods for online therapy services. Some therapy services offer 24/7 access to professionals via text-based communications. Some online therapy services offer the ability to schedule a one-on-one video or audio chat with your preferred therapist. 

Some online therapy services allow you to communicate an unlimited amount of time with professionals tending your program, while others will charge per interaction or session. 

You’ll want to try and discern which type of a client you are by asking some of the following questions:

  • Do you feel like you will need the ability to talk to someone outside of business hours? 
  • Do you want to recieve near-instant response times? 
  • Is it important to you to “deep dive” with the same counselor over time? 
  • Do you feel as if you will need many small interactions with professionals, or periodic, structured interactions?

Depending on your answers to the above questions, you’ll want to note whether the online therapy services you’re interested in offer unlimited conversations, what their hours are, and how “in-depth” a meeting with a counselor is. 

Here at OnlineDoctor.com, we’ve surveyed a wide range of online therapy services, and have ranked some of the best options in our annual ranking here

Third, will you need psychiatric medicine consults? 

Due to the at-a-distance nature of online therapy, many online therapy services cannot offer the same range of psychiatric medicines that an in-person visit with a psychiatrist can. 

With this said, if you have already been prescribed psychiatric medicines and would just like a more convenient service through which to obtain follow-up appointments, many online psychiatric services do exist. Be sure to check out our ranking of the best online therapy services for a range of offerings that can provide access to both psychiatrists and counselors. 

One note on online psychiatric consults is that psychiatrists do commonly answer questions about medications, and can refer you similarly to a traditional doctors visit. Other routine actions including the testing of levels of medication in your blood, or the adjusting of medications that are controlled services still do often need in-person psychiatric sessions. 

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