Virtual, but still personal.
Athena Care offers most services remotely via our convenient, secure telemedicine option*.
- In order to protect your privacy and confidentiality, virtual visits are conducted using our HIPAA compliant technology.
- Virtual visits are offered at no additional cost to you.
- You can participate in sessions from home or any location deemed appropriate by you and your Care Provider.
- *Initial visits, psychological testing, or visits requiring lab collections or a medical exam must be done in person. Virtual visits are covered by most insurance companies but some plans may include a surcharge for the use of a telemedicine platform. Not all of our Care Providers offer this service. Ask your Care Provider or call our office at (615) 320-1155 for more information.
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What is Online or Telehealth Therapy?
To satisfy their mental health care needs, many people are turning to telemedicine. Unlike traditional therapy, online counseling allows a person to meet with their therapist from almost anywhere globally, as long as they have a reliable and secure internet or phone connection.1
The term “online therapy” can refer to a variety of things. Online therapy treatment using a secure video conferencing platform is one of the most popular kinds of telehealth in the mental health industry, however, some therapists may also offer phone or text counseling.
Telehealth refers to all highly encrypted data, audio, and video technologies supporting long-distance healthcare.2 The word is an umbrella for any type of remote patient care, including video conferencing, remote patient monitoring, online health-related education, virtual administrative meetings, and other virtual visits.3
At Athena Care, mental health therapists conduct online therapy and virtual visits utilizing HIPAA-compliant technology to safeguard your privacy and confidentiality.
Benefits of Online Therapy
One of the main benefits of online therapy is the convenience of participating in sessions via your phone, computer, or tablet. This means you can do online counseling virtually, anywhere, with a fast and reliable internet connection. In addition, for many mental health issues, research demonstrates that online counseling can be just as helpful as in-person therapy.4
For example, a studies review showed that treatment effectiveness of online cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) was just as successful as in-person talk therapy when treating mild depression.5 In addition, another study indicated that online CBT for panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder6 was just as effective as face-to-face treatment.
According to a study in the American Journal of Managed Care,7 when comparing virtual visits to office visits, around 63% of patients and 59% of doctors observed no difference in the overall quality of the session.
There are many benefits to online therapy, including, but not limited to:
- Treatment can be more accessible
- Ideal for remote locations
Furthermore, patients may seek face-to-face therapy if online counseling proves helpful and is associated with positive beliefs. According to research8 led by Megan Jones, PsyD, adjunct clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine, college students who needed more intensive eating disorder treatment were more likely to seek it after participating in a digital body-image program.
What Can I Use Telehealth Therapy For?
Telehealth therapy can help with a variety of mental health issues, including but not limited to:
- Anger management
- Eating disorders
- Relationship issues
- Obsessions compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Parenting issues
- Substance use disorders
Fortunately, licensed psychiatrists can prescribe most drugs for mental health online. They can prescribe various behavioral and mental health medications, such as anxiety and depression medications, mood stabilizers, and stimulants.
The type of consultation required before providing a prescription varies by state. A physician with a full, unrestricted medical license in Tennessee can prescribe medication online.
Before doing so, a physician must:9
- Conduct an appropriate history and physical examination
- Make a diagnosis based on the examinations and all diagnostic and laboratory tests consistent with good medical care
- Formulate and discuss a treatment plan with the patient, including the risks and benefits of various treatment options
- Ensure the physician’s availability or coverage for proper follow-up care
How Does Online Therapy Work?
Begin by comparing and contrasting online counselors, platforms, and services. Therapists who offer weekly live video sessions where you may connect face-to-face in real-time are ideal.10 If you currently attend an in-person mental health clinic and just need some extra support, text and email messaging services may be helpful. Still, they’re unlikely to help you form the necessary bond with your therapist.
Your therapist will most likely explain how therapy works and offer you information about confidentiality during your first appointment. The therapist may ask you questions regarding your problems, symptoms, and therapy goals to assess the best treatment approach. In addition, the therapist may inquire about your upbringing, medical history, family, and any previous mental healthcare you have received.
It’s essential to go into therapy understanding your goals and what you’d like to achieve. Open up to your therapist and express your emotions. Let them know if anything is too difficult to discuss. The more open and honest you are, the likelier you will reach your goals.
Finally, limit at-home distractions. Choose a time when your home is the quietest, ask others not to bother you, and turn off any apps or electronics that may serve as a distraction.
Is Telehealth Therapy Covered by Insurance?
Many health insurance carriers provide insurance coverage for online therapy sessions. However, you may need a reference from your primary care physician.
It’s no surprise that online therapists are less expensive than their in-office counterparts. Still, the average cost can vary depending on your individual treatment needs, location, and other variables. On average, you can expect to spend $100 to $300 a month if you attend consistent online therapy.11
Many third-party providers offer monthly or yearly subscriptions and bundles that allow you to buy many sessions at a reduced price. Some online therapy services offer free trials to see if it’s right for you before committing. Others provide free or discounted services by linking you with skilled volunteers rather than paid therapists.
These approaches can help reduce the cost of internet counseling and make it as handy as it is inexpensive.
Is Online Therapy Right for Me?
Online therapy may be a viable option for people who live far away from mental health resources. This type of mental healthcare can also benefit those with hectic schedules or those who have trouble leaving the house.
However, in-person counseling is still superior to online therapy in some circumstances. People with severe psychological or emotional distress or those dealing with traumatic experiences in real-time, for example, may not respond well to online counseling. In addition, traditional treatment may benefit those with schizophrenia, severe depression, bipolar disorder, or suicidal ideation. Individuals with these and other problems may require specialized treatment from an in-person therapist.
Others who are uneasy with technology may not benefit from online counseling. Furthermore, individuals with little privacy at home, those who do not want to reveal sensitive information over the internet or phone, and those in abusive situations may prefer to meet in person.
Limitations of Online Therapy
As with any online service, online therapy has its limitations. The following are some of the drawbacks of telehealth counseling:
- Technical issues: You rely on your internet connection speed and the security of your electronic devices. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to maintain an uninterrupted video conference with a therapist if you can’t stream movies online. But, of course, even the best connections and equipment might have issues, causing your online therapy session to be disrupted or cut short.
- Loss of emotional connection: It may be more challenging to connect emotionally with your therapist when you are not physically in the same space.
- Unqualified Providers: There’s always the risk of falling prey to an unskilled or shady provider while seeking services online.
- Omission of body language: Facial emotions, voice messages, and other types of body language are not always visible to your therapists. These signals can be quite telling and provide your therapist with a better understanding of your feelings, thoughts, moods, and behaviors.
- Ethical and legal concerns: It is more difficult to enforce legal and ethical rules because online counseling removes geographical barriers. Therapists can work with clients worldwide, and each state has its own licensing and treatment protocols and procedures. Therefore, it’s critical to double check your therapist’s credentials and experience before starting treatment.
How To Find The Best Online Therapist
Qualifications, experience, and philosophy are all valuable, but the bond you form with your therapist will often determine the effectiveness of your therapy. According to an American Psychological Association task group, the form of treatment matters less than the therapeutic relationship. How well the therapist and patient got along determined how well the patient improved, regardless of whether the therapist utilized cognitive behavioral therapy or EMDR work.12
Finding the ideal online therapist can take some time and effort, so don’t hesitate to ask questions, read reviews, and take advantage of any free initial sessions. Because an online therapist will become your partner in healing, rehabilitation, and growth, it’s critical to find someone who makes you feel heard, supported, and cared for. In addition, you must be able to trust this person enough to be honest and open up about personal and frequently difficult topics.
While you don’t need to become a mental health accreditation expert, it’s beneficial to understand the various initials after a therapist’s name. For example, LCSW stands for Licensed Clinical Social Worker. These credentials mean that whatever state they’re licensed to practice in gave them the stamp of approval.
Furthermore, it’s important to read therapist bios and work history. Find out if they have experience treating others with similar concerns, life experiences, and issues as yours. You should also look for a specialist who can provide the most appropriate treatment plan for your condition.
With Athena Care, gaining access to online therapists has never been easier. A care coordinator can assist you with any questions or concerns about online therapy at any of our various Tennessee locations, open Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Scanning a vast list of available online therapy providers might be intimidating. However, knowing a little about the various forms of treatment and therapists will help you make a better decision. If something doesn’t feel right, be open to making a change. Another advantage of selecting an online counselor is that you may easily switch therapists until you discover one who is a good fit for you.
Here, you’ll find a list of practitioners organized by city and information about their backgrounds and specialties.
- GoodTherapy Editor Team. “Online Therapy and Telehealth.” GoodTherapy, GoodTherapy, LLC, 15 Apr. 2020, www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/modes/distance-therapy
- Simi Psychological Group. “Telehealth Therapy vs Online Therapy vs Online Counseling.” Simi Psychological Group, SIMI PSYCHOLOGICAL GROUP, 23 Dec. 2020, simipsychologicalgroup.com/telehealth-therapy-vs-online-therapy-vs-online-counseling
- Nester, Steve. “The Difference Between Virtual Care vs. Telehealth.” Trapollo, Trapollo, 24 Feb. 2022, www.trapollo.com/articles/telehealth/difference-between-virtual-care-vs-telehealth
- Pescatello, Meredith S., et al. “Treatment Engagement and Effectiveness of an Internet-Delivered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program at a University Counseling Center.” Taylor & Francis, Informa UK Limited, 6 Oct. 2020, www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10503307.2020.1822559?journalCode=tpsr20
- Chendra, Kerry, and Steven Gans, MD. “The Pros and Cons of Online Therapy.” Verywell Mind, Dotdash Media, Inc., 21 Aug. 2021, www.verywellmind.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-online-therapy-2795225
- Andrews, G., et al. ”Computer therapy for the anxiety and depression disorders is effective, acceptable and practical health care: An updated meta-analysis.” Journal of Anxiety Disorders, Volume 55, 2018, Pages 70-78, ISSN 0887-6185, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.janxdis.2018.01.001
- Nelson, Jennifer. “Using Telehealth for Mental Therapy Appointments.” Next Avenue, Next Avenue, 5 Nov. 2019, www.nextavenue.org/therapy-session-telehealth
- Jones, Megan, et al. “A Population-Wide Screening and Tailored Intervention Platform for Eating Disorders on College Campuses: The Healthy Body Image Program.” Journal of American College Health, 21 May, 2014, 62:5, 351-356, 10.1080/07448481.2014.901330
- TENNESSEE BOARD OF MEDICAL EXAMINERS. “FAQ: Telemedicine.” LexisNexis, 2016, https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/documents/Telemedicine_FAQs.pdf
- “Online Therapy: Is It Right for You?” HelpGuide.Org, 29 Apr. 2022, www.helpguide.org/articles/therapy-medication/online-therapy-is-it-right-for-you.htm
- Kutscher, Elana. “How Much Does Online Therapy Cost?” Www.Top10.Com, Natural Intelligence Ltd, 23 Sept. 2020, www.top10.com/online-therapy/how-much-does-online-therapy-cost
- Morin, LCSW, Amy, and Carly Snyder, MD. “Here’s How to Find the Right Therapist for You.” Verywell Mind, Dotdash Media, Inc., 1 Sept. 2021, www.verywellmind.com/how-to-choose-the-right-therapist-for-you-4842306