What Does Online Counseling Involve? 3 Things You Need to Know
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We do everything online in the digital age. With a few presses of a keyboard or taps on a phone screen, you can order groceries, attend a college course or pay your electricity bill. This includes mental health care, where services like online counseling offer similar convenience.

Telehealth has become integral to nearly every facet of the health care industry, including mental health. Online counseling is a treatment option for mental health disorders and distress that is utilized by people around the world. But what does online counseling look like? That’s what we’re here to discuss.

We’ll talk about what you need to know when getting started with online counseling. We’ll also discuss what to do if you need more comprehensive support, like our Lightfully treatment programs.

3 things to know about online counseling

Let’s start off with defining what online counseling actually is. A mental health counselor helps to improve your mental health by focusing on your overall well-being throughout everyday challenges and working toward milestone goals. Online counseling essentially takes those services and brings them to you through your computer, phone or tablet screen.

You’re likely asking yourself, “What should I expect?” By learning about what’s involved in online counseling, you can properly prepare yourself and focus on feeling motivated to move forward on your mental health journey.

Here are three things to know about how online counseling works:

  • Short-term treatment — Counseling can be both short-term and long-term, depending on the individual’s needs and goals. Short-term counseling typically focuses on addressing specific issues or challenges and may involve setting and achieving measurable goals within a relatively brief period, such as a few weeks or months. This approach is often used for issues like coping with a recent life event, managing stress or anxiety, improving communication skills, or making a specific behavioral change.Sessions typically last 45 to 50 minutes, with some lasting up to an hour.
  • Goal-oriented process — In the first online counseling session, you’ll likely be asked about what you hope to gain throughout the counseling process and what goals you’re working toward. This could mean everything from managing the mental impact of a traumatic event to coming to terms with the end of a relationship. 
  • Varying platforms — One of the main benefits to utilize throughout your time in online counseling is the integration of various communication platforms. While it differs for every provider, online counseling allows you to reach out to your counselor through live online sessions, text messages, and chats on a mobile app. These flexible and convenient options mean you can get the help you need, the moment you need it.

Lightfully Behavioral Health provides alternate options to online counseling

Online counseling is an effective mental health treatment option for many people. We’ve also already touched on a couple of the benefits that it can provide, such as flexibility and convenience. However, while online counseling is a valid course of action, some people may require more intensive care. This is especially true if you’ve been diagnosed with a mental health disorder that impacts your day-to-day life.

If we’re sticking to the online route, then let’s talk about our virtual Intensive Outpatient Program. If your mental health distress or disorder symptoms are interfering with your overall quality of life, the vIOP can help. We take your unique schedules and needs into account with structured virtual programming that still encourages autonomy. It lasts approximately two weeks and includes:

  • Three to six hours of programming a day
  • Small group sessions
  • One-on-one sessions 
  • Ongoing family therapy 

Many people respond better to in-person treatment, or they’re struggling with severe disorder symptoms, which is why we have an Intensive Outpatient Program in person as well. Our Intensive Outpatient Program is a partial day care program that takes place three to five days a week for 20 days. 

Both our IOP and vIOP focus on whole-person-centered care that treats you beyond your diagnosis. Change is possible through every avenue of mental health care treatment, whether that be through online counseling or our virtual Intensive Outpatient Program. 

If you’re looking for more intensive care after online counseling, visit our Contact Us page to ask about an assessment or reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team.

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