Asking for help from a professional can be really scary and hard. You might worry about running into your psychologist at the store or at dinner. You might wonder if word will get out that you are seeing a professional, or if your secrets be shared. You may wonder if you can just “see someone online” because it’s too hard to make it in for an appointment. Well, online counseling may actually be a good option for you! Online counseling is sometimes referred to as Distance Counseling, TelePsychology, TeleHealth, TeleMental Health, or a number of other terms with “tele” in them. All these terms refer to the use of video, email, text, or other uses of technology in the therapy setting.
But, before you quickly decide on online counseling, read up on some things you should consider before clicking on that webcam.
Benefits of Online Counseling:
- It’s convenient. If you live in a rural area that doesn’t have a lot of mental health professionals, online counseling offers you more options for choosing a therapist who uses video technology. If you have chronic health problems, disability, or can’t drive, then online counseling is a way to get the help you need without having to leave your home. If you have a busy work life and just can’t leave the office to make it to an appointment, but you have a private space for a video therapy session, then online counseling might be a good fit. If you are more comfortable using technology than sitting across from someone, then online counseling might help you feel more comfortable with the idea of being vulnerable with another person.
Things to Find Out Before Signing Up for Online Counseling: online counseling may not be the best choice for some people who are looking for professional help. Or the professional might not be the best person to provide online counseling for you.
- Is the therapist licensed? All psychologists and other professional health care providers must be licensed in the state they practice in. Choosing a licensed provider is one way in which you can know that the provider has adequate training and is qualified. It also means that you have some recourse if you have serious problems with your treatment. Before you start your webcam, make sure you know who you are working with, if he/she is licensed and in what area of mental health, and their license number. In Oklahoma, you can verify psychologist’s license here: https://pay.apps.ok.gov/OSBEP/_app/search/index.php. You can verify licensed professional counselors (LPCs), Licensed Marital and Family Therapist (LMFTs), and Licensed Behavioral Practitioners (LBPs) here: https://www.ok.gov/behavioralhealth/License_Verification.html. You can verify Licensed Clinical Social Workers here: https://pay.apps.ok.gov/medlic/social/licensee_search.php.
- Is the person licensed in the state you in which you live? Health care providers can only practice in the state that grants their license. So, if I’m licensed to practice psychology in Oklahoma, I can’t provide services to a person who lives in Missouri. Make sure you find out the physical location of the person who you are considering working with….and make sure they are practicing in your state of residence.
- Is the technology secure? Will the sessions by confidential? Mental health providers are required to keep things confidential (with a few exceptions). Ask your provider if their technology is HIPAA compliant to ensure that no one has the ability to sneak in online during your sessions.
- How is payment for online services handled? Sadly, most insurance companies will not pay, or reimburse, people for tele-mental health services. Make sure you find out what the providers hourly rate is and be prepared to pay that up front, typically though credit, debit, or health savings card.
If you think online counseling might be a good fit for you, and you live in Oklahoma, call me at 539-777-1129 and we can chat about if video counseling would be the best option for you.