There are a few things you must first consider when looking for the best online therapist for you. Although your perfect fit is out there, it may take some trial and error before you find the right match. Below are some helpful tips for how to find the right online therapist for you, or otherwise how to get the ball rolling towards better mental health.
1. Get clear on what you’re looking for
By no means do you have to have it all figured out, after all, that’s why you’re looking into going to therapy, however, you should have an idea of what kind of support you’re looking for because this will determine what kind of therapy and therapist is best for you. Some different types of therapy you might want to investigate include psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, MyRecont Therapy ™, biofeedback, and mindfulness-based approaches.
2. Get a referral from your family doctor, other healthcare providers, or current counselor.
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or not sure where to begin, consult with other healthcare providers in your life. Your family doctor or a doctor at a walk-in clinic are often great resources to get the ball rolling. Conversely, if you already have a mental healthcare worker on your team but you’d like to try a new kind of therapy, ask them for some suggestions!
3. Think about what qualities in an online therapist you’re looking for
Although you might have no preference beyond someone you feel comfortable around, others may feel more at ease working alongside someone with a certain gender, belief system (such as religion), age, or another characteristic. At the end of the day, the most important qualities in your therapist should be someone who is safe, comfortable, and trustworthy. Not all therapists will be for you, and that’s ok!
4. Do an online search
Don’t be afraid to do some cursory online searches for therapists in your area. Try searching key phrases such as “online therapists Vancouver”, “online trauma counseling”, or something specific to what you’re looking for. Sometimes it’s just a matter of doing a little bit of work upfront, reading reviews and testimonials, and making a few phone calls to find the right fit.
5. Ask your network
If you’re comfortable reaching out to friends and family, or perhaps even just those who follow you on social media, ask them for recommendations. You would be surprised at the responses a question like “recommendations for a great online therapist” can elicit. Asking your network also has the added benefit of getting reviews on the spot, as most people would not recommend a counselor they themselves would not go to.
6. Look for an online therapist with credentials
If you’re looking for a therapist online, sometimes it can be hard to vet them for credibility. Some things to look for are their credentials, where they went to school, where they did their practicum, if they graduated from an accredited program, who they have previously worked for, their educational background, and reviews and testimonials from previous clients and patients.
7. Consider cost
Unfortunately, the cost of therapy can be a barrier to seeking mental health support, or otherwise finding a mental health service that is right for you. Seeing a psychiatrist is covered under BC’s Medical Service Plan (MSP), as well as some of the medication they may prescribe. Other mental health workers such as psychologists, or counselors are not covered under MSP, but insurance or other social programs may fully or partially cover the costs. Other resources include student clinics or programs that offer sliding scale rates.
8. Have you thought about support groups or other forms of group work?
Of course, group therapy may not appeal to everyone and may not be suitable for all issues, but group work does offer some benefits, such as being more affordable, less formal, and it provides a social and support network.
9. Think about your time commitment
Maybe this has to do with what’s available to you through insurance, for example, only being covered while you’re a full-time student, or perhaps you have a pressing need that you want to address ASAP. Although healing is not linear, time constraints and commitments do affect how and when we seek out care. Consider your schedule, and how much time you can and want to commit to therapy. Unfortunately, some therapists will have a waitlist and some may not be available more than once a week, therefore you want to be clear on what you’re looking for, and what’s available.
10. Don’t be afraid to “shop around”
Not every online therapist will be for you, and that’s ok! Send out emails, and take advantage of services such as a free 15-minute call to get to know your therapist before you commit to them. It’s perfectly fine and acceptable to talk to a few potential therapists before you find the right one for you.
11. Ask questions
Remember you’re looking to find someone who will be a good fit for your needs. Before you chat with your potential online therapist, have a list of questions that are important to you. Some examples may include questions regarding what to expect during your sessions, how long each session will be, cost and if your insurance will cover it, ask them to reiterate their policies and confidentiality, as well as the best way to get a hold of them outside your sessions.
12. Explore different formats and settings
Although this article is focusing on finding the best online therapist for you, this may not be your preferred way to receive mental health support. Other therapy formats including online video chat, phone calls, online messenger chat or email, texting, or in-person. Many of the tips in this article can be extended to finding the right therapist for you for your preferred setting and format.
13. Search for an online therapist during a mental health upswing
This may sound a little counter-intuitive, after all, when you’re doing well you may think you don’t need to see a therapist, but doing the leg-work and the searching while you’re in a good headspace will make going to therapy less daunting when you’re feeling low. So, have a shortlist of people to reach out to or a therapist already lined up for when you’re ready. Send out emails and put your feelers out there, it’s ok to go slow and take baby steps towards healing, it’s all about the direction, not the speed.
14. Just give it a try!
There may be some other steps you need to take first like confiding in a close friend or perhaps trying medication, but talking to a therapist really is something worth trying! Therapy isn’t just for mental illness or processing trauma, although it’s very effective for those things too, sometimes it’s just a good outlet for those looking to have a little bit of extra support in their lives.
Online therapy is a great tool and resource for those trying out therapy for the first time, those who are anxious about leaving their home, those with busy schedules, and just about everyone else. Many people will seek out mental health support throughout the course of their life, and the kind of support you need will change and shift as your life changes. If you’re in a place where you are considering therapy, don’t be afraid to give it a try, there are many different kinds of therapies out there, and the right online therapist is out there for you too.