Like a lot of people, maintaining my mental health and wellbeing has been a huge focus for me the past few months. Whether it’s through journaling, increasing exercise, or trying to eat a little better, the pandemic has brought it to the forefront of my mind. Another tool to aid wellbeing, and probably the most obvious is accessing counselling/ therapy services. Although we no longer have access to face to face therapy in a lot of cases, online therapy sessions are available that can offer counselling/ therapy from the comfort of our own homes. It goes without saying that accessing therapy is still a struggle, unless you are privileged enough to be able to go private, but I wanted to share my experience of switching to online therapy, the pros and cons and why I’m a huge fan…
What can online therapy help me with?
I wanted to put this at the start of this post, purely to highlight that therapy can be for everyone. You don’t need a specific diagnosis to engage with therapy and take a lot from it. Whether you’re experiencing stress, loneliness or low self esteem (as examples). If there’s something that’s impacting your day and you want to change it, therapy might be the route to go down.
Considering online therapy sessions? Here’s my experience, the pros and cons and some tips to get the most out of it.
Benefits/ pros of online therapy sessions
I’ve had therapy in person before and had the expectation that online therapy just wouldn’t be effective, but I was wrong. Online therapy can still be extremely effective if you’re willing to show up. This study from Verywell found that 93% of those having online therapy agree it’s helpful – so I know I’m not the only one benefiting from it!
- You don’t have to leave your home! This could classify as a potential pro or con, but for me it means that it can slot into my routine and I can be more flexible around the time I have it.
- Accessible to anyone with physical limitations.
- More options for different therapists. This is another biggie for me. I don’t have a car at the moment so being able to choose the therapist I wanted.
- It *hopefully* means more people access mental health support due to it being more accessible.
- It can sometimes be a little cheaper. Some therapists lower their prices slightly, the cheapest I’ve seen is £30 per session.
Cons of online therapy sessions
- Harder to be distraction free. When you have therapy at home and live with other people it can be difficult to feel like you can speak about anything and everything. If you have children it might be hard to find a quiet space where you can truly say what you need to. It’s so important if you do opt for at home therapy to have a safe space to take the sessions.
- It’s harder to spot an unlicensed therapist.
- Unreliable technology. This is a biggie. If your wifi is unstable or the call keeps cutting out it really can impact the session.
- Not appropriate for more serious psychiatric illnesses.
How to get started with online therapy sessions
There’s a lot of people out there offering online therapy sessions. One thing I will say is that it’s much easier for people who are not registered therapists/ accredited to advertise their services and get work online. I’d opt for someone who is accredited and lists their qualifications so you know they have the experience, if you’re having to go private this is something you’ll be spending your money on. It has to be right for you as much as it does the therapist you choose.
One thing that helped me with this is using websites such as Counselling Directory. All of the list counsellors/ therapists listed here have been verified by their approval policy meaning their accreditations have been checked.
How to get the most out of therapy and prepare
There’s a few things you can do to get the most out of your online therapy sessions and prepare in general.
- Seems obvious, but make sure your laptop is charged.
- Tell anyone you live with that you’re about to have a therapy session. That way they know to give you the space and time you need and it hopefully avoids any awkward moments where someone interrupts the session.
- Go with a focus point and something you want to speak about/ explore that day.
- Have tissues by your side… trust me.
- After your session, take a few moments to yourself to reflect. Usually after a face to face session you’d have the journey home to reflect, so spend some time doing this at home.
Mental health helplines & resources
If you are struggling with your mental health right now and feel like you need support, click the link to access a full list of charities: NHS Mental Health Resources.