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Online Therapy: The Benefits And Requirements For Getting Started

Updated: Jun 30


Online therapy at Blue Oak Counseling Services


Online therapy is becoming a more and more popular choice for those seeking help. However, not many people are familiar with the benefits of using this option for treatment. So what are the perks? And what do you need to get started?


Benefits of online therapy


Convenience and affordability. Since you'll be attending the session from the comfort of your own home, you can schedule sessions for the times you have available and are most convenient for you.Nowadays, many states require insurance companies to cover online therapy just like they would traditional therapy sessions. To learn more, contact your insurance company about how your healthcare plan will cover teletherapy.


Treatment is more accessible. Online therapy makes treatment more accessible. You may not feel entirely comfortable talking to friends or family about health issues, but having online access to care makes it easier to overcome the stigma that's been historically attached to mental health issues and getting proper treatment.


Online therapy can be a helpful tool in learning about your mental health, regardless of whether your mental health is strong. In helping you better understand your stressors, triggers, thinking patterns, and behaviors, online therapy can help you strengthen your resilience and help you become psychologically stronger. And, you don't need to be clinically diagnosed with a mental health condition to benefit from talking to a professional. Online theory can provide you with an easy avenue to get started.


Online therapy is confidential. Healthcare providers are subject to HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) rules, which establish guidelines to ensure your personal health data won’t be disclosed without your knowledge.


Requirements of online therapy


A fully charged laptop, desktop computer, or tablet with a good webcam and audio connection. Having your computer or tablet die during the session can be a hassle, especially since there's a limited amount of time. If you're able, keep your device plugged in throughout the session or ensure that it's fully charged before starting. It's also recommended to have headphones to prevent any noises and sounds from echoing and allows you to focus on your conversation with your therapist entirely.


Have your phone as backup. If any technical difficulties arise, you may want to keep your fully charged phone next to you just in case, so you can easily switch to a phone call or a different video platform. However, phones aren’t recommended for teletherapy for the following reasons:


  • More notifications mean there's a higher chance of disruptions and distractions during the session.

  • Your phone might run out of battery more quickly if you're using the jack for headphones instead of charging.

  • Your phone screen is much smaller, and therefore offers a less immersive experience in session.


Environment to prepare


Good lighting. Try to sit next to a window if possible. If your session starts after sunset or doesn't have a window, bring as much artificial lighting as possible. Move a desk lamp or sit by a standing lamp in front of you, and remove any light behind you as it can make it difficult to see you. After one or two sessions, you'll have a better idea of how to set up your ideal therapy environment.


A quiet space. Do your best to find a quiet space in your home. Ideally, this can be in your bedroom or home office space, but the bathroom or available closet spaces are also good options. The most important thing is your comfort, and if you feel like you can't have a practical session with other people around in your home, do what you need to do to get there. For example, shut any blinds, doors, or ask other household members to lower the noise levels.


Privacy. If you live with other people, let them know you're having a session before starting. If you're not comfortable sharing that information, consider telling them it's a medical appointment or an important work call. Or, you can buy a white noise machine that muffles what you're saying. Therapists often utilize these in their offices for the same reason. Think about any potential distractions that may arise and do what you can to prevent them from happening in the middle of your session.


If you don't have an available private, quiet space available, consider your outdoor options: if the weather forecast is clear, you may want to ask your therapist to call you instead, in which you could take walking around outside or in your car, or another safe, secluded area outdoors.


Pre-appointment preparation


Review and sign any documents your therapist sends you in advance. If your therapist is also new to online therapy, or you're trying it out together, they may send you a few documents to go over and sign. Try to do this in advance if possible, so there's no valuable time wasted on paperwork.


Test out the platform. There may be an option for you to check your speed upon starting the session. To avoid technical issues, spend a few minutes following any setup instructions your therapist sends you in advance! Online platforms such as Simple Practice, are fully secure and HIPAA compliant. For web browsers, you’ll need:


  • Google Chrome version 87

  • Mozilla Firefox version 84

  • Apple Safari version 14

  • Microsoft Edge version 87

  • Use laptops or desktops, both Apple and Windows), mobile devices (iOS or Android), or tablets.


If you're struggling, don't face the problem alone. Contact us today to learn more about online therapy and how it can help you.


Keywords: Online therapy, benefits of online therapy, requirements for online therapy


Resources

https://www.apa.org/topics/telehealth/online-therapy

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5007563/

https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/index.html