Video therapy: What is it? Is video counseling therapy for you?

Maud Geesen
By Maud Geesen
Video therapy
About 20 percent of American adults struggle with a mental illness each year. But only about 45 percent of them receive treatment. Common obstacles to receiving mental health careinclude worries about the stigma, cost and lack of accessibility.

Research shows that approximately 75 percent of people who participate in psychotherapy experience a benefit. Some of the barriers to treatment can be knocked down with video counseling therapy. Video therapy provides people who have access to the internet with a means to access therapy from any location.

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What is video counseling therapy?

Video therapy is a general term for any type of mental health counseling or psychotherapy that takes place via a video platform. The therapist meets with clients virtually, using internet-based mobile video conference technology to facilitate the interaction.

Instead of meeting in person with a therapist, clients participate in two-way video sessions, using an internet connection. Sessions may be very similar to in-person therapy appointments. The client and the therapist are simply in different locations.

You can access many types of video counseling and psychotherapy online. Some examples include:
• Marriage and couples’ counseling
• LGBTQ therapy
• Cognitive behavioral therapy
• Remote EMDR therapy
• Sex coaching
• Parenting coaching

Video counseling therapy is not new. Providers have offered it in areas where access to in-person care is scarce. Researchers have evaluated it extensively and found it to deliver similar levels of quality and satisfaction as in-office care.

How does it work video therapy

How does it work?

Video therapy works in a number of ways. Most therapists conduct sessions via a specific platform instead of simply using their mobile device’s video conferencing feature. Video conferencing apps and platforms can be configured to provide the necessary level of security and privacy.

If a local therapist offers telehealth sessions, you may have to call the office or visit the website to schedule an appointment. The provider will typically email or text you a link that you’ll use to access the appointment on the requested date. At that time, you will log in, wait for the provider to initiate the session, and chat with your therapist using a computer or mobile device.

You can go beyond your local area to access video therapy. Many internet platforms are offering this type of counseling to anybody with an internet connection. Services such as BetterHelp work with a broad network of licensed, certified therapists to offer a wide variety of therapy options online.

They typically operate on a subscription basis. Clients register for the website online and select a package. Packages usually include some combination of real-time video, phone or messaging therapy along with options for 24/7 texting and access to educational mental health resources.

When you begin in-person therapy, you usually undergo an assessment before you start the counseling sessions. Online video therapy usually works the same way. Clients answer questions about their goals and preferences for therapy. Then, they’re matched with a professional who provides what they need.

After you submit payment information, you can usually begin messaging with your therapist right away. You may have to schedule longer, real-time sessions. When it’s time to meet with your therapist, you can do it from any location in which you feel comfortable.

All online therapy services are different. You can visit their websites to learn more about each one before choosing the best option for you.

Some factors to consider when evaluating an online video therapy service include:
• Price – Many online counseling platforms are affordable and offer discounts based on your income. Some accept insurance.
• Therapist quality – The service should explain how therapists are licensed and vetted to partner with the site.
• Types of therapy offered – There are many types of therapy. Some clients just want to talk. Others prefer homework that helps them practice wellness skills at home. Find out whether the service offers the specialties that you favor.

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How is it different?

In many ways, video therapy is structured like in-person therapy. You can have a seamless appointment with your therapist during which you can see their facial expressions, hear their tone of voice and pick up on non-verbal cues.

However, video therapy offers more options than in-person therapy for most clients. You can often develop a relationship with your therapist quickly because you have more access to them throughout the week. The anonymity helps some clients feel comfortable opening up about something that they might not reveal while sitting on a therapist’s couch.

You also have a greater choice of treatments when you look for therapy online. You can access more therapists than you could in your local area. You might even find a professional who offers a treatment method that isn’t available in your town. Reduced travel costs and the ability to shop around to evaluate pricing makes video therapy even more appealing.

Video therapy may facilitate follow-up and supplemental care. Many patients show up for scheduled appointments. However, they may become less consistent when it comes to brief follow-up visits, practicing skills at home or working with a complementary care provider.

What if it were easier to stay on top of those things? Many online therapists allow their patients to message them outside of their sessions. You can ask a quick question if you’re having a rough day or get accountability for doing the homework that your therapist assigned.

Doing this online takes almost no time. You don’t have to schedule time for a commute or hang around a waiting room. You can get the most out of therapy when it’s efficient and convenient.

Is video therapy right for you

Is video therapy right for you?

Mental health professionals have been using video therapy for years alone and as a supplement to in-person treatment. However, video counseling therapy is not ideal for everyone.

Video therapy may be right for you if:
• You have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder and want to choose from a wider network of therapists than you have access to locally.
• You don't have a diagnosed psychiatric disorder but want to work on your problems and need an objective, professional perspective.
• You have a busy schedule and struggle to make time for therapy appointments.
• You are anxious about meeting with a therapist in person.

Video therapy may not be the best option for people:
• With a high risk of harming themselves or others.
• With serious or severe psychiatric or psychotic disorders.
• Who don’t have an internet connection or feel uncomfortable using the technology.
• Who don’t think that they’ll be able to create a trusting, professional relationship with someone in a virtual setting.
• Who don’t have a private environment from which to conduct sessions.

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Final thoughts

Video therapy is an effective alternative to in-person mental health treatment. It opens the door of accessibility for many clients, including those who have anxiety about visiting a therapist or don’t have the means to travel to one. This type of therapy is also perfect for anyone with a busy lifestyle. You don’t have to have a diagnosed mental health disorder to benefit from video counseling therapy. Many people benefit from the wide variety of coaching and counseling methods that are offered online.

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Maud Geesen
Maud Geesen

Dr Maud Geesen is a general practitioner graduated from Claude Bernard University. Passionate about psychiatry, psychology and personal development she now focuses on helping people on these levels.