When it comes to finding an online therapist, it's important to do your research. Online therapy, also known as teletherapy, is a growing area of mental health care that offers people the convenience of therapy from the comfort of their own homes. But with so many providers to choose from, how do you find the right one for you? Don't worry, we're here to help. Here are some tips on how to find the right provider for you.
1. Know what you're looking for
The first step is to know what you need from a therapist. What are your goals for therapy? What are your expectations? Are you looking for someone who specializes in a certain area? What type of therapy are you looking for? Do you need help with anxiety, depression, or something else? Once you know what type of therapy you need, you can start looking for providers that specialize in that area.
2. Consider your schedule and budget.
Many online therapy providers offer a variety of appointment times to accommodate different schedules. And since you won't have to commute to and from appointments, online therapy can save you time and money. Be sure to check with different providers to see what kinds of appointments they offer and what their fees are before making a decision. If you need to see a provider who directly takes your insurance, you’re often best off looking through your insurance provider’s website to find therapists credentialed with your plan. Be aware that many providers who are paneled with insurance are usually full and may not get back to you in a timely manner.
3. Do your research
Now that you know what you're looking for, it's time to do your research. Start by reading some profiles and websites. This will give you a good sense of each therapist's style and approach. You can also look for articles or interviews with the therapists you're considering. This will give you a better understanding of their philosophies and methods. However, research shows that the MOST important thing is that you feel a good connection and level of trust with your therapist. Unless you need a specialized form of care, getting a sense for your potential therapists’ personalities is really key.
Not sure how to start your research? One of the best ways to find a good therapist is to ask people you trust for recommendations. Talk to your friends, family, or colleagues and see if they know anyone who they would recommend. If you have a therapist you see in person, they may also be able to suggest someone who is a good fit for you.
A word of caution against app-based therapy-on-demand platforms such as Talkspace or BetterHelp: these services are marketed as low-cost, high convenience ways to access therapy, but do not provide any personalized matching, and have a very high turnover rate. They also have a very shady relationship with your private information. Even if you do get matched with a therapist you like on one of those platforms, it’s likely that therapist will leave the service quickly, as they are over-worked and underpaid. You’d be much better off seeking therapy with a small business or individual who can see you online to get the most personalized care.
4. Make sure any therapist you’re considering licensed or registered
When you've narrowed down your list of potential therapists, make sure to check that they are licensed or registered to practice therapy in whatever state you’re in. Licensed therapists have completed all education and passed multiple board exams over years of training, and registered associate therapists have completed their education and are in a process equivalent to medical residency before sitting for their board exams. Seeing a licensed or registered therapist will ensure that your therapist has the necessary education and experience to provide quality therapy services.
To learn more about what it’s like to see a registered pre-licensed therapist, check out this article.
There are a lot of people practicing unlicensed and untrained therapy under the guise of coaching. Coaching can be really great for mindset shifting and working toward future goals, but when it comes to your mental health and processing things that have happened in your past, it’s important to see someone who is professionally trained as a therapist and monitored by a licensing board.
You can verify a professional’s license or registration status using this handy tool.
5 . Check their website
Once you've checked that the therapist is licensed or registered, take some time to explore their website. A good therapist's website will give you an idea of their personality and their approach to therapy. It should also be well-organized and easy to navigate. If the site is hard to use or doesn't have much information, it may be a sign that the therapist isn't very professional or experienced.
6 . Schedule a consultation
Once you've done all your research and find someone you think you might connect with, it's time to schedule a consultation with the therapist. This is usually a brief, free meeting (20 minutes is standard) where you can get a feel for their style and whether or not they're a good fit for you. After meeting with the therapist, trust your gut instinct – if something feels off, it probably is.
Finally, it's important to make sure you feel comfortable with your therapist. When you're meeting with a therapist for the first time, pay attention to how well they listen and whether or not they make you feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings. If you don't feel like your therapist is a good fit, don't be afraid to look for someone else.
Finding the right online therapist can be daunting, but it's important to take your time and do your research before making a decision. With these tips in mind, we hope you'll be able to find the perfect match for yourself or your loved ones.
Photo by William Fortunato
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Laurel Therapy Collective
offers online therapy to California residents for anxiety, transitions, and trauma.