Benefits and Questions to Consider Before Trying Therapy Online
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Online jobs and classes have become a standard practice in today’s world. But what about online therapy? If you have bipolar disorder or another mental health disorder, can you receive the same level of care online that you would in person? What does online therapy actually mean?

Online therapy is any mental health service provided via video conferencing, phone calls or messaging apps. Online therapy allows people to receive mental health care from licensed professionals remotely, without the need for in-person visits. It can be particularly beneficial for those who have difficulty accessing traditional in-person therapy due to barriers such as distance, mobility issues, or scheduling conflicts. 


And though research is still being done on its effectiveness, 63% of U.S. adults found online therapy to be helpful. However, there are some things you should consider before jumping aboard the online therapy train. 


Let’s talk through some things to consider about online therapy, the difference between online therapy and Lightfully’s Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (vIOP), and how to know what resources may be best for you.


Benefits of online therapy


There are a number of benefits of online therapy. Here are a few of the top advantages of choosing online therapy when you need mental health support:


  • Convenience — If you have a packed schedule and can’t take time away to drive to a therapist’s office, this kind of therapy may be helpful. You can find online therapy that fits with your schedule without worrying about taking time for the commute.


  • Expense — Online therapy can be less expensive than in-person care. This may be helpful for people who don’t have access to insurance or who are on an otherwise tight budget.


  • Usability — Especially for younger people, communicating via a smartphone or computer may be easier than walking into a therapist’s office. Thus, having online therapy as an option may help younger people feel more comfortable using therapy to prioritize their mental health.


  • Access — You may have a mental health disorder or physical disability that makes it difficult to leave the house. In this case, it can be significantly easier for you to access a therapist online than to travel to a physical location.


Questions to consider before starting online therapy


There are clearly great benefits to giving online therapy a try. However, there are some things to consider before starting online therapy. Here are a few questions to keep in mind while researching online therapy services:


  • Does the online therapy service offer the type of therapy I need? — Before seeking any type of mental health care, you should have an assessment performed by a licensed mental health professional. Once this has been done, they can talk over the options with you, which may include online therapy. The mental health professional who does your assessment can also provide you with information about the type of therapist you should be looking for when researching online therapy.


  • Will I receive care from licensed therapists? — If you’re seeking mental health treatment, make sure you’re going to licensed, qualified experts. Depending on what state you live in, the licensing requirements for therapists may vary. Generally, the therapist providing your online therapy should be licensed in the state you’re located in while you’re receiving online therapy. However, it’s not hard to check on the licensing of online therapists you’re thinking about seeing. Most states have an online directory of professionals licensed in their state that you can search, such as this one for California. Or you can check out this directory to search licenses for various types of therapists in every state. 


  • Is my private information secure on this app or site? — You don’t want to share personal, sensitive information with people who aren’t required to keep your private information secure. The site or app you use should be HIPAA compliant and be able to verify the identity of both you and your therapist.


  • How will I pay for this service? — While online therapy services are convenient, they aren’t always covered by insurance. Before you schedule an appointment, make sure you know whether your insurance will pay for that appointment and how much it’ll cost you out of pocket. You can also check your insurance company’s website or mobile app to find out if specific online therapists are in-network with your plan. 


Lightfully offers vIOPs that can help those with mental health challenges


Online therapy can be all over the map when it comes to quality and care. But at Lightfully, our Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (vIOP) is built to the highest standards.


Our vIOPs can be as effective for many people as the treatment we provide in a traditional in-person setting with the advantage of privacy and convenience. Our licensed clinical experts will work with you virtually in both group and individual therapy sessions to give you the evidence-based, whole-person-centered care you need. And you don’t even need to leave your home to access it.


When you’re ready to take the first step toward seeing if a vIOP can help with your mental health challenges, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’re ready to support you on your journey toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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