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An image of a person doing Online psychological counseling california

Over the past two years, online psychological counseling is on the rise, both in California and across the United States.

The coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns disrupted the delivery of counseling services for addiction and mental health issues. This left many struggling to connect with counseling services at the time they most needed help. Research shows that up to 70% of adults in the U.S. do not have access to traditional therapy.

Fortunately, many innovative recovery centers and counseling services started to expand the delivery of remote therapy, bringing counseling out of the therapist’s office and into your internet-connected location.

Psychologists typically refer to therapy delivered via communication tools and devices as telepsychology. You may also see this form of treatment described as:

  • Remote counseling
  • Web therapy
  • Web-based therapy
  • Online therapy
  • Phone therapy
  • Text therapy

Telepsychology services is an umbrella term describing interactions with a psychologist using a mobile app, a web portal, or a phone.

Research is vigorous and ongoing, both evaluating the standalone effectiveness of telepsychology and comparing the modality to in-office, in-person sessions of psychotherapy. 

What Is Online Psychological Counseling?

Online therapy provides the means for clients to communicate with licensed mental health professionals using a computer or phone rather than attending face-to-face sessions in an office.

The most common ways of clients and therapists communicating involve:

  • Video chat
  • Live chat
  • Phone calls
  • Messaging (texts/emails)

There are some key differences between online counseling and in-person therapy beyond the delivery method.

Most online psychologists do not provide you with a mental health diagnosis like major depressive disorder or generalized anxiety disorder. This is now starting to change as online psychotherapy continues to grow.

Additionally, you may find that online psychological counseling California doesn’t satisfy the requirements for court-mandated therapy.

Setting those differences aside, you can still engage with a licensed mental health professional online. You will have access to broadly similar treatments and services as you would find in a traditional psychotherapy setting.

What Are the Benefits of Online Psychological Counseling California?

There are many potential advantages to engaging with web-based therapy, including:

  1. Convenience: The primary advantage of online counseling is the convenience angle. You won’t need to travel miles to meet your psychologist. Just log in or dial a number and you can get started with therapy when it suits you.
  2. Ideal for those with mobility or transportation issues: If you live in a rural community, you may need to drive an hour or two to reach the closest psychologist office. Maybe you have a chronic health condition or disability preventing you from easily getting around. Web-based therapy removes these obstacles and allows almost anyone to connect with a therapist.
  3. Affordability: Online psychological counseling is one of the most cost-effective ways of connecting with a therapist. If you plan to pay for therapy using health insurance, check for specifics with your insurer before engaging a therapist. Not all online therapy providers will accept insurance as payment.
  4. Provides an atmosphere conducive to opening up emotionally: For those who feel comfortable using technology, online therapy can provide an environment in which it feels easier to talk about challenging emotions and painful, private issues than when speaking with a psychologist face-to-face.
  5. Access the same therapy as you would find in face-to-face sessions: Not only can you engage with psychotherapy remotely, but you will benefit from the same services and treatment as face-to-face sessions offer.

What Are the Drawbacks of Online Psychological Counseling California?

Despite promising many possible benefits, online psychological counseling does not make the best fit for everyone. Face-to-face therapy may be more effective for:

  • Younger children
  • Anyone uncomfortable using technology
  • Those with an SMI (serious mental illness)
  • People with dual diagnosis (co-occurring substance use disorder and mental health disorder)
  • All those considering harming themselves or others
  • Anyone who feels suicidal or in crisis
  • Those looking to pay for therapy with health insurance

Now you can see whether online therapy might be beneficial, does it really work?

An image of a woman on a laptop doing Online psychological counseling california

Is Web-Based Counseling Effective?

Online therapy is still in its infancy, but there is a growing body of research supporting the effectiveness of remote delivery methods.

This small 2014 study demonstrates that online CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is effective for the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Journal of Anxiety Disorders published this study on remote cognitive behavioral therapy. Researchers concluded that web-based CBT was just as effective as in-person therapy for the treatment of:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Panic disorder

Another 2014 study also showed that online treatment for depression was just as effective as in-person therapy.

Common Online Therapies

Every therapist and counselor will draw on a unique combination of training and specializations. Some counselors will focus primarily on treating individuals or groups of people using the following techniques:

Other therapists are credentialed to treat patients with a specific diagnosis such as OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), personality disorders, or eating disorders. Approaches like exposure therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and IFS (internal family systems) can be beneficial.

You can also find plenty of online psychological counseling services in California specializing in the mental health needs of children, teenagers, seniors, and families. These therapists will apply many techniques, from play therapy and expressive arts therapy through to family systems therapy and occupational therapy.

You can also find plenty of online psychological counseling services in California specializing in the mental health needs of children, teenagers, seniors, and families. These therapists will apply many techniques, from play therapy and expressive arts therapy through to family systems therapy and occupational therapy.

How can you go about locating the most suitable therapist near you?

How to Find the Right Virtual Psychotherapist

Just as with in-person practices, online therapy providers vary from platform to platform. Some providers offer psychiatrists, some only therapists, and some offer both.

You should be clear on the difference between psychiatrists and psychologists before looking for a therapist:

  • Psychiatrists: Psychiatrists undergo four years of medical school, followed by years of specialized training in the biological factors underpinning mental health. Psychiatrists sometimes include therapy in sessions, but their primary focus is on prescribing medications. As MDs, psychiatrists can also evaluate and diagnose clients.
  • Psychologists: In most U.S. states, psychologists are prohibited from prescribing medications, regardless of their qualifications. The core focus of psychologists is delivering therapy.

You may also consider therapy with an LMFT (licensed family and marriage therapist), a social worker, or a trainer listener.

The most vital element of choosing an online psychotherapist is finding one who is suited to your treatment goals and to whom you feel you could open up about personal issues and difficult emotions. Once you achieve this, you should find you can pursue your treatment goals without needing face-to-face therapy.

Psychology Today produces this comprehensive guide to tele therapists in California which you can use as a useful starting point.

Your doctor may also refer you to a suitable psychologist or psychiatrist who offers remote therapy. Friends and family might also provide some recommendations.

You could also search online for experienced psychotherapists in California who provide online treatment. Here at Los Angeles Therapy Network, we can help connect you to these therapists. Contact us at (833) 604-1287 today to get help.

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