Online counseling services have gotten a big boost in the past few months, as the coronavirus pandemic closed down much of the face-to-face world. In fact, the only way for most to do psychotherapy during this time was either via some sort of teleconferencing or online therapy service, or going old-school and using just the phone. (You shouldn’t be using email to do therapy, because it is insecure).
Unbeknownst to many, online counseling is now in its third decade. It got its start in the mid-1990s as a way of offering therapy services to people who would otherwise not get help. Its benefits largely outweigh its drawbacks, depending on the modality used.
While many prefer straight-up videoconferencing, some clients prefer a text-based back-and-forth, using a secure messaging system (some prefer chat, while others prefer the equivalent of email).
Consumer-focused technologies like Facetime or Zoom are generally not good options for online therapy because they likely don’t meet HIPAA standards. Instead, you need to look at dedicated solutions.
There are two ways you can go with online therapy – DIY or join one of the large therapy services like Talkspace or BetterHelp.
If you’re looking to earn your regular rates, you are best off sticking with a HIPAA-compliant platform for videoconferencing like Thera-Link.com or TheraNest.com. They both offer practice management software along with billing features and secure messaging and video-conferencing.
Costs range from $30-$60/month, depending on your needs. Amwell.com and MDLive.com are two larger telehealth platforms to check out as well.
If you’re willing to take on more clients with less billing, marketing, and scheduling hassles (but also less pay), then one of the big online therapy services – like Talkspace or BetterHelp – is worth considering. They are both easy to join and during these high-demand times, they’ve cut their onboarding times down to two to three weeks. You’ll need to be a licensed practitioner to join.
That frees you up to spend time on their platforms doing what you do best – being a great therapist. The pay isn’t great – therapists average between $20-$35/hour on average. But if you consistently need to fill a few hours a week (or need to make some money on the side), they’re a great option to consider that allows you to define your own schedule. They are overwhelmed by clients needing therapists right now.
If you do decide to go with BetterHelp, we have an affiliate link for you to use that helps fund our publication: psych.ly/bhpro