I know I’ve mentioned this before in previous articles, but I’m going to say it again because of how important I think it is: Therapy is one of the greatest gifts that you can give yourself.
Even if you don’t think you have “major” issues, or you had a pretty great upbringing, therapy can still be a positive and helpful experience.
I was resistant to the idea for a long time for a few reasons. One was that I didn’t think my problems were “bad enough” to warrant therapy. I thought that you had to have serious trauma or some kind of overwhelming problem to make therapy “worth it.”
Another reason was that I would have to try to find a therapist in person, which made me nervous. The final reason was money. Most insurance plans don’t cover mental health particularly well, and I knew how expensive it could get.
Therapy is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Even if you don’t have “major” issues or you had a great upbringing, therapy can still be a helpful experience.
By now, I’m sure we’ve all seen the Instagram and Facebook ads for online therapy platforms. I was skeptical, as I am with most things, but I was also curious. I read up on a few of the most popular ones and decided that I would try a few to see if they were worth the cost. It did take me a few tries to find a therapist that I clicked with, but I’m glad that I didn’t give up after my first failed attempt.
A Few Tips to Get Started
1. Online therapy is legit
As long as you sign up with a reputable platform, you’re getting the real deal. The people that you talk to are trained professionals, and you can easily see their credentials and bios.
2. Patience is best
When you’re shelling out hard-earned cash for something, you want to feel like you’re reaping the benefits right away. I get it. I’m the same way. However, just like with building a beauty routine or starting a new retinoid, patience and an eye for the long-term are key.
You will need a few sessions with your therapist before you can decide whether he or she is the right person for you. Once you find someone who is a good fit, you might not immediately feel better or get life-changing advice. That’s okay. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Stick with it, and voice those concerns to your therapist! They’re human too, so they’ll understand where you’re coming from.
Be patient and consistent. It’s worth it, I promise.
3. No problem is too small
I’m not saying that everyone in the world needs therapy, but I think it’s important to understand that you can benefit from therapy even if you think you don’t have a bad life.
Sometimes, you might just need an unbiased person to listen to your struggles, however minor you think they are. Or maybe you notice that you tend to have the same fights with your partner, kids, friends, or family, and you don’t know why. Therapy is good for uncovering things you didn’t even know were a problem until someone else on the outside sees them.
Sometimes, you just need an unbiased person to listen. Therapy is good for uncovering things you didn’t even know were a problem until someone else sees them.
Online Therapy Platforms
BetterHelp is the platform that I currently use, and I like it a lot. There’s an app and a desktop site (thank goodness for therapy in app form). They don’t accept insurance, but they do have affordable plans, and they offer avenues for financial assistance.
You’re automatically matched to a therapist based on a questionnaire, but you can easily switch to a different therapist if you wish.
I love how easy the text interface is. It’s easy to have a conversation in the chat, and there’s also a separate journal section that you can either keep private or share with your therapist. This is great for me because I can “dump” the random things I’m thinking and feeling into my journal for my therapist to read later, but I don’t have to derail our main conversation if we’re talking about something else.
BetterHelp only offers live sessions via phone, which is great for me, but I know that some people like to have video sessions, so this is something to keep in mind. You get one live session per week, but you can text your therapist anytime. He or she may not respond right away, but there is also an option to flag an important message as “urgent.” I’ve only used that feature once, but my therapist was great about responding quickly and supporting me through a rough situation.
Talkspace seems to be the most popular app, but I didn’t enjoy my experience there enough to keep paying for it.
They have a huge network of therapists with a range of specialties, so you’re almost guaranteed to find someone who can help with your specific problems. Like BetterHelp, you’re matched with someone based on a questionnaire. For me, the process took much longer because they have humans matching you to a therapist instead of AI. You do get to pick from a list of matches though, which some people might prefer.
Talkspace has a few different pricing plans that offer different levels of access to your therapist. You can also pay for additional, one-off live sessions, which is a feature that I wish BetterHelp offered. They also have guaranteed response times when you message your therapist, which I appreciate. BetterHelp doesn’t do that, so I don’t know when my therapist will see my messages.
One issue I have with Talkspace is that the therapist felt very disengaged. It was hard to keep up a meaningful conversation, and the responses I got felt very generic. I’m sure I could have kept switching therapists until I found a good one, but I decided to try a different online therapy platform instead.
This one is a bit different from the other two because it offers access to a psychiatrist as well as a therapist. Psychiatrists can prescribe medications for issues like anxiety, insomnia, depression, and other mental health issues. Therapists can listen and chat with you, but they can’t prescribe medications.
You can find both a therapist and a psychiatrist with this app (psychiatrists don’t generally provide therapy sessions, so you’d need both if you were interested), and you can choose either video or phone sessions to talk about what’s going on with you.
This online therapy app is good for anyone who has limited access to an in-person psychiatrist, especially because some insurance plans may cover part of the costs for this service.
MDLive isn’t super interactive, and to me, it’s not really intended for consistent, regular therapy sessions. You can schedule single appointments, but you don’t have access to a continuous chatroom with your therapist, so it’s harder to build rapport. This might be fine for some people though, so go with your gut!
Let’s Talk About It
Mental health is still more difficult to talk about than any other kind of health problem, but I don’t think it should be! There’s no shame in wanting or needing to talk to a trained professional, especially if you’re going through a hard time.
Have you tried online therapy? Tell me about your experiences in the comments, and let’s make caring for our mental health as commonplace as wearing sunscreen when we leave the house!