As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage in California, getting therapy online is a good option to protect yourself and your community. With online therapy, you can get the help you need to deal with trauma, mental illness, and other issues while still self-isolating and protecting your community.
Online therapy platforms also let you access a wider range of services that may be available in your immediate area, which is great if you’re one of the many Californians living rurally or in small towns. Before you start online therapy, though, you should know what to expect, how to make the most of each session, and how to use the communication tools at your disposal to get the day-to-day support you need. Here’s what you need to know about getting therapy online.
Under the California Mental Health Parity Act, insurers in the state are required to cover care for mental health, substance abuse, and behavioral disorders to the same extent that they cover physical health care. In 2020, the law was amended to require insurers to cover telemedicine, including teletherapy.
If you’re transitioning from in-person to online therapy with a specific therapist or going to a therapist who primarily works with patients face-to-face, then he or she might want to hold sessions on a familiar app, like Zoom. However, others are more security-conscious and may want to use a more secure, perhaps even proprietary app. If you’re booking through an online therapy provider, like Plushcare at https://plushcare.com/online-therapy-california/, you’ll probably need to download their app and learn how to use it. Make sure you’re comfortable with the technology before your first session.
In traditional therapy, you go to the therapist’s office and talk to them in a private setting, where you know no one is eavesdropping on your conversation. You have to recreate that experience for yourself when you choose online therapy.
First, you’ll need to find a comfortable, private space where you can relax and let your guard down as you talk to your therapist. You want to eliminate distractions and interruptions. You also want to be comfortable, so make sure you have a cozy place to sit. Do whatever you want, short of using substances, to create a relaxing atmosphere. Light a few candles, turn the lights down, and burn some incense or turn on your aromatherapy diffuser. Have a beverage handy — water or a calming mug of herbal tea — and a box of tissues or a handkerchief for those moments when you’re overwhelmed with emotion.
Online therapy has a lot of advantages, but one of its major drawbacks is that nonverbal communication — body language — doesn’t come through over a webcam as well as it does in person, and it doesn’t convey at all over text messaging or voice calls. Your therapist will need you to verbally express your emotions, which can take some practice if you’re not used to it. But learning to talk about your feelings can have wide-ranging benefits outside of therapy, and can make all of your relationships deeper and richer. You might find that talking to a therapist about your feelings is easier when you’re doing it on a webcam or over text, because of the extra degree of separation that a computer screen tends to provide.
Traditional therapy is done in the therapist’s office, and once you leave, you usually don’t talk to the therapist again until your next session, unless you have some kind of psychiatric emergency. But with online therapy, you can engage using different communication channels, and have more regular check-ins with your therapist. If you’re someone who feels more comfortable opening up when you’re able to express yourself in writing, you can use text messaging or instant messaging to conduct your therapy sessions. If you need support in a difficult moment or need to be held accountable as you work towards your goal, you can reach out to your therapist via text, video, or audio messaging. Just be aware that your therapist may not always be available, so you may have to wait a little bit for an answer to your text, email, or voice mail.
You may not be able to go to therapy in person right now, and you might not even want to — with COVID-19 still raging and breakthrough infections getting more common, it’s safer to stay at home. But don’t neglect your mental health. Now more than ever, you need to make mental health care a priority. There’s never been a better time to try online therapy.
Sebastian was born and raised in the busy city of Abbottabad. As a journalist, Saad Mushtaq has contributed to many online publications including the PAK Today and the Huffing Post. In regards to academics, Saad Mushtaq earned a degree in business from the Abbottabad UST, Havelian. Saad Mushtaq follows the money and covers all aspects of emerging tech here at The Hear Up.Thanks