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    10 Online Therapy Basics That'll Help You Get Started

    It can be intimidating, but here's some info to help you take that first step.

    Making the decision to try therapy is hard, and finding the right therapist is no walk in the park either. There are a lot of things to consider when you're looking for a therapist, from accessibility to your own comfort levels. Given everything going on today — from social justice to social distancing — online therapy is becoming increasingly popular. So, here’s everything you need to know about it.

    First things first: Even though you're not meeting your therapist face to face, online therapy can be just as personal. The work you need to put in and the process are the same.

    1. Now, online therapy is usually done two ways: via video or text. Once you figure that out, you can decide if you'd prefer live or messaging sessions.

    2. Text therapy lets you take things at your own pace. It's great if you have unpredictable schedules, if face-to-face chats make you anxious, or if you don't have the privacy to speak freely at home.

    A screenshot of a text chat with a therapist via Talkspace

    3. Video therapy is real-time. It's ideal if you're looking for a more free-flowing conversation that's closer to the IRL therapy experience.

    A person holds their tablet, video conferencing with their therapist from an arm chair

    4. Online therapy has some seriously great perks — namely convenience (traffic? don't know her), comfort (your bed > therapist's couch), and accessibility (no car? no problem!).

    5. While online therapy has lots of advantages, there are still some other things to consider before booking your first session.

    A bar graph comparing a low bar of "how strong you feel sometimes" to a high bar of "how strong you are"

    6. No matter what service or provider you choose, you should always check their privacy policy to understand how they'll use or protect your personal data. But if you know you won't, at least make sure they're HIPAA-compliant.

    A bar graph comparing a high bar of "things you want to accomplish" to a low bar of "the energy you actually have to follow through"

    7. And ofc, check out what payment options are available — like insurance or subscription-based services.

    8. Sure, online therapy is less mainstream, but there are a number of studies out there on its effectiveness. And they're pretty promising!

    A line graph showing mental health over time. An increasing, linear line shows "how you wish recovery went" with a squiggly (but still positive) line that shows "how it actually goes"

    9. Great, how can you get started? By choosing a medium (text or video), then finding an online therapy service that specializes in your needs and whose treatment approaches work for you.

    A woman lies on her couch and holds up her smartphone as she video conferences her therapist

    10. In the end, it’s about getting the support that actually helps and works for you.

    Ready to get started now? Here's a list of some of the best online therapy services.

    You, ready to try online therapy for the first time: