By Christi M. Lero, MSW, LCSW, CSW-G
In light of the current global health crisis regarding COVID-19, we are faced with a lot of uncertainty. Also, we are getting a lot of information about how to care for ourselves and our loved ones. Hand hygiene, social distancing, and the standard protocol of how to decrease the spread of illness have been shared on every news outlet. All of this information is helpful. But, it fails to address a significant aspect of health we each face: mental health. Did you know that in-person counseling is not your only option to get mental health help? In fact, online therapy has been shown to be just as effective as in-person therapy.
Online Therapy Can Help During Times When Social Distancing is Necessary
As social beings, it is important for us to maintain contact and connection. However, the CDC has said that social distancing is necessary to minimize the spread of COVID-19. This means that cities are banning large gatherings. And, people who are over the age of 60 or have compromised immune systems have been asked to avoid crowds and gatherings of 10 or more people. Social distancing can cause feelings of isolation, loneliness, anxiety, and symptoms of depression.
Are Online Therapy Services as Effective as In-Person Therapy?
Yes! In 2019 the American Journal of Managed Care published a research study about online therapy. In this study, they found that 86.7% of psychiatry patients stated they would recommend online counseling to family or friends. A meta-analysis (a study about a bunch of other studies) in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders found that CBT online for anxiety and depression are as beneficial as in-person treatments.
So, what does all that mean for you? It means you can use online therapy and counseling, and see the same benefit as you would in-person. You can cope with the struggles of social isolation and distancing with your therapist there to support you. And, you will learn how to find creative ways to stay connected with the people you love. Or, if you are already seeing a therapist in-person, then you may be able to see them online without disrupting your treatment plan!
Benefits of Online Therapy
You can access online therapy anywhere in the state you live in. So, you can talk to a therapist anywhere where you may feel comfortable talking about the hard stuff. You don’t have to go to a therapist’s office.
You don’t have to travel to and from counseling appointments. This means less time out of your day and less travel-associated costs. It also minimizes your risk of being exposed to germs.
Online therapy appointments can happen at a time that is most convenient for you. Many online therapists offer appointments in the evenings and on the weekend. They offer appointments to accommodate your busy schedule.
Online Therapy is Appropriate for Any Age
People of almost any age can take part in virtual therapy! In fact, research shows it is seen best used with those in their late teens to people in their 70’s!
Some people are concerned about being seen at a counseling office. We believe that everyone should be able to access the mental health care they deserve. Bur, we understand how it could make some people uncomfortable. Therefore, avoiding the stigma of “going to therapy via online counseling allows more people to get the help they need.
Things to Keep in Mind About Online Therapy
Before starting any health service, it is important to check with your insurance company. We encourage you to get clarification on your plan. Will your insurance plan cover virtual visits? Most do. However, there are still some that are behind the curve (looking at you, Medicare). Also, it’s important to find out if your therapist has a secure network from which to provide services. Therapists are required to take extra precautions to protect client information. So, they need to use a HIPPA secure system to provide virtual sessions.
Another thing you should know: your therapist has to be licensed to provide online therapy in the state you live in. This can get tricky with online therapy. So, be sure to ask your teletherapist if they are licensed to practice in your area.
Lastly, for all the benefits telehealth has to offer, it is not best for all needs or concerns. If you are suffering from significant trauma, an eating disorder or addiction, in-person counseling remains the best form of therapy for you. This is due to the intensive nature of the treatment you need. However, a consultation with a counselor will give you a better idea of the best course of treatment.
Don’t Wait to Get the Help You Deserve
Begin Online Therapy in Missouri:
Starting online therapy is very simple. We are available to support you during this pandemic and during any challenging moments in your life. We want to help you feel better and find peace! To begin online therapy in Missouri, please follow these simple steps:
Contact Aspire Counseling to make an appointment for a free minute consultation.
Meet with an online therapist for a consultation. This can be done over the phone or using a video platform. So, you do not have to worry about being exposed to the virus or other germs!
Begin online therapy and receive the mental health support you need during this uncertain time.
Other Services Offered by Aspire Counseling
At our Columbia, MO mental health clinic, we believe healing begins when you look past hurts, current obstacles and future worries directly in the eye and can confidently say, “I’ve got this.”
Our caring therapists provide a variety of mental health services to clients of all ages. At this time, all our therapists have the ability to provide online counseling sessions if you are located anywhere in Missouri.. Our counseling services include counseling for caregivers, counseling for chronic illness, postpartum counseling, counseling for teens, counseling for college students, counseling for adults, trauma and PTSD therapy, EMDR therapy, counseling for sexual assault and rape, anxiety therapy, counseling for depression, LGTBQ affirming counseling services, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Also, our counselors contribute to our blog on a regular basis. To learn more about our therapy services both in-person and online, please contact our therapy office in Columbia, MO.
About the Author
Christi Lero is a hospice social worker. She helps do research on ways to better support caregivers of cancer and/or hospice patients. She also provides individual therapy to clients at Aspire Counseling. Christi specializes in helping clients during moments of major life transitions. For instance, she enjoys helping people move through grief, find hope while providing care for a family member with a chronic illness and helping moms transition to parenthood. At Aspire, Christi provides a safe space and support while you explore your feelings & values as you find a new path forward.