Online Counseling

online counseling Lynchburg Virginia
online counseling Lynchburg Virginia

Online counseling is a type of mental health counseling that takes place over the internet. The terms “counseling” and “therapy” are both used to describe a professional relationship in which a client entrusts a licensed provider with the details of their life in order to to manage symptoms or otherwise meet desired goals. 

Traditional in-person, in-office counseling sessions have evolved to be more flexible in meeting your needs. Online counseling is offered in various ways, including over email, real-time chat or texting, and video conferencing. You may hear other phrases to describe online counseling, such as telehealth, online therapy, e-therapy, internet counseling, or distance counseling.

Safe Haven Counseling offers online counseling in North Carolina and Virginia via video conferencing.

Is online counseling safe?

Many of us are increasingly aware of our online privacy (or lack thereof) especially when it comes to personal information. Understandably, we have privacy concerns with online counseling. After all, you are telling your most intimate thoughts.

One of the necessary components of counseling is confidentiality. Counselors ensure that clients have a safe, private environment in which they can share personal and sometimes difficult experiences, thoughts, and emotions. The website used for online counseling should, at a minimum, be HIPAA-compliant and have the ability to verify the identity of your counselor.

simplepractice logo
simplepractice logo

Safe Haven Counseling uses a HIPAA-compliant electronic health records system that includes an online therapy platform and provides each client access to their individualized client file. This online therapy platform is called SimplePractice. You can learn more about how Safe Haven Counseling keeps your protected health information secure by visiting https://www.simplepractice.com/security/.

How much does online counseling cost?

The cost of online counseling varies depending on the provider, their level of experience, and location of provider. The cost of counseling ranges from $90 to $150 per session, unless you live in a large city (i.e., New York City, Los Angeles) where the cost is closer to $250 per session.

Is online counseling covered by insurance?

Most insurance companies cover the cost of in-person mental health and substance use counseling. However, online counseling is often not covered or reimbursable by most insurance providers. You should contact your individual insurance provider to ask if they cover the cost of online counseling.

Are there free options for counseling?

There are many ways to seek guidance for questions and solutions related to mental health: online counseling, in-person counseling, conversations with families and friends, self-help books, social media support groups, to name a few. It is important to distinguish between the benefits of meeting with a licensed clinical professional, as opposed to receiving support from an unlicensed person or practice.

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When seeking emotional or behavioral health help, people typically turn to the Internet as a guide. A great place to start is with research-based articles that help introduce you to mental health, such as National Alliance on Mental Illness www.nami.org. Another great option is to read message boards and be a part of community-generated discussion on sites such as Mental Health America https://www.inspire.com/groups/mental-health-america/. These options provide support and encouragement from others who may be experiencing similar things as you. However, you should avoid self-diagnosing and allow a professional to help assess your needs and to develop a plan to overcome the challenges you may be facing.

Safe Haven Counseling believes in eliminating financial barriers for individuals to receive mental health counseling. That’s why we are a provider with Open Path Collective, a non-profit network of mental health professionals who provide mental health care at a steeply reduced rate. We dedicate at least 10% of our care to clients of Open Path.

Are counselors worth it or a waste of money?

Counseling can provide you with emotional relief and teach you valuable ways to maintain your mental health for years to come. However, it is often difficult to find affordable therapy. Poor insurance coverage and inflated rates create a financial deterrent that prevents people from seeing a counselor. Counseling is justified, but the price tag it entails can pose a heavy burden. Online counseling is often more affordable than traditional in-person counseling.

Online counseling is compelling at providing effective, acceptable, and practical mental health care. Online counseling is just as effective as in-person counseling for the treatment of many conditions including depression, anxiety, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and substance use disorders. Online counseling is cost-effective and create sustained positive improvements. Licensed professional counselors are trained to assess, diagnose, and treat mental health and substance use disorders.

Advantages of Online Counseling

*Convenient:  Online counseling can eliminate travel and decrease time away from your workday. As long as you have connection to the internet, you can have your counseling session wherever you feel comfortable. Counselors are also more likely to have available appointments later in the day, since they also do benefit from not having to commute to an office.

*Comfortable: Online communication is often more comfortable for people, especially those who are younger and often use technology. Many people use text messages, emails, and video conferencing in their daily lives already. It can seem easier to talk with someone from the comfort of your own home, especially when discussing personal or private information.

*Accessible: Some people are unable to access in-office counseling sessions, whether due to living in rural areas, experiencing chronic medical conditions, or debilitating social fears. Online counseling decreases barriers to treatment access and increases the ability for all populations to receive mental health counseling.

the convenience of your home Online Counseling

Get online therapy you can trust. Contact Safe Haven Counseling today.

How do I find an online counselor?

There are many ways to start online counseling. You may have been seeing a counselor in person and they may suggest using an online platform to continue counseling if you’re traveling or moving away. Or you may be looking to start online counseling for the first time. Regardless of the reason, you can find an online counselor with ease.

Contact your insurance provider

Your insurance company will be able to connect you with mental health providers that accept your insurance. You will want to ask the following questions:

Do I have mental health insurance benefits?

Do I have a deductible and has it been met?

What are names and phone numbers of counselors that offer online counseling and accept my insurance?

What is my out-of-network mental health benefit reimbursement rate?

Online Directories

There are various websites that specialize in helping individuals connect with licensed mental health providers in their state. A few examples are:

*Psychology Today: a national, comprehensive directory of mental health providers near you

*Online Counselling: an international directory of online counselors

*Open Path Collective: a directory of affordable mental health providers for individuals facing financial hardships

Online Counseling Details to Consider

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When you seek online counseling services, you will want to consider the following:

*Do I need a counselor?

There is no specific formula to determine when it is time to seek online counseling services.  You may be noticing you’re feeling sad more often, erupting in crying spells, feeling anxious or just “not yourself.” 

You may have endured a traumatic event or lost someone or something important to you. You may be using drugs, alcohol, or sex to cope with stress.

You may have great insights into your patterns and problems. You may even have healthy coping skills. Still, there may be times when you need help—and the sooner you get it, the sooner you can get back to enjoying life.

*Is the counselor licensed? Licensing protects you. Counselors are not legally protected words in most states, meaning anyone can claim to be a counselor and offer services that may appear as counseling. It may not always be easy to know that you are receiving evidenced-based mental health counseling.

All counselors and other professional health providers must be licensed by the state in which they provide services. Licensure laws protect you by ensuring only those who are trained and qualified to provide counseling receive a license. It also ensures that you have recourse if there are problems with your treatment. Before you sign up for any online counseling services, find out who your counselor will be, if he or she has a license, where that license is held and the license number. Most states offer an online, searchable directory of professionals licensed in their state.

The counselors of Safe Haven Counseling are licensed in Virginia and/or North Carolina. Their names, states in which they are licensed, and licensure numbers can be found within this site. Click on the links below to search for counselors within Virginia and North Carolina:

Virginia: https://dhp.virginiainteractive.org/Lookup/Index

North Carolina: https://portal.ncblcmhc.org/verification/search.aspx

*Is my counselor licensed in the state I live? Counseling licenses are granted by the state with their own laws and rules, much like each state determine what residents must know to get a driver’s license. But unlike driver’s licenses, which allow you to legally operate a car in all states, a health care provider is limited to providing services in the state(s) in which they are licensed. The counselor must be licensed in the state in which you are physically located.

I have scheduled an online counseling appointment. Now what?

How often should I see my therapist?

Online counseling has been found to be most helpful when incorporated into a client’s lifestyle for approximately 12-16 sessions, most typically meeting once per week for 45-minutes sessions. This adds up to be about 3-4 months of once per week sessions. You may prefer shorter or longer courses of treatment depending on your goals and the complexity of your concerns. We will discuss the frequency of sessions during your first visit.

What do I talk about with my counselor?

Counseling is a collaborative process between you and your counselor. Don’t worry about telling your counselor too much. Your counselor will create a judgement free, therapeutic environment dedicated to process your thoughts and emotions.

What should I not tell my counselor?

Don’t worry about limiting what you tell your counselor. You can tell your counselor anything—and they hope you do. It’s a good idea to share as much as possible, because that is the only way they can help you. Counselors are required by law to keep everything that is discussed during session confidential—unless you are threatening to harm yourself or others, there is any suspected child or elderly abuse or neglect, or if they receive a court-order.

 

How is online counseling helpful?

Online counseling services help you identify goals and potential solutions to problems which cause you emotional turmoil. Online counselors also help you to improve communication and coping skills, strengthen your self-esteem, and promote your behavior change and optimal mental health. You will likely explore very strong emotions and may experience crying at some point during your online counseling journey. While not everyone cries during counseling, it is a normal response to processing deep emotions.

How do I get the most benefits from online counseling?

Online counseling is an investment of your time and money. Like anything else, the more you put into it the more you will get out of it. Focus on yourself and your growth—don’t waste your time complaining about someone else. Trust the process of your counseling journey. You may feel worse before you feel better. Online counseling benefits include hope and a future of healing.

If you have any questions about online counseling/online therapy, please reach out to us. We are Safe Haven Counseling.