Mis à jour : avr. 23
-and I was surprised how much I preferred the platforms that didn't involve video
Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker, mental strength coach, and international bestselling author.
She recently tested seven major online therapy websites to compare their counseling services.
Despite initially expecting video chat appointments to be the best option, Morin found that she preferred a site called Talkspace that offers unlimited text messaging with your therapist.
Morin enjoyed being able to message her therapist whenever she wanted, as well as the fact that the site's fees started at $65 per week, which is about half the typical price of only one in-person therapy session.
As a psychotherapist, I'm more used to giving therapy than receiving it. But when the health website, Verywell , invited me to test online therapy websites as a patient and to write about my experience, I jumped at the opportunity. It was sort of like being a therapy website "mystery shopper."
I was curious to learn how online therapists conduct treatment. I provide mental strength coaching services online and over the phone, but I've never offered therapy online. (Coaching is different from therapy in that it doesn't provide a diagnosis, doesn't need to follow HIPAA guidelines, and doesn't require a license.) I was also curious about what it would feel like to be on the receiving end of online treatment. Would I form a connection with someone I've never actually met face-to-face? Could treatment via text message actually be effective?
I signed up to become a client at every major online therapy website seven of them in total. And I was surprised by what I learned.
I expected video appointments, like those provided by Doctor On Demand , to be my favorite online therapy option. I thought it would most closely resemble face-to-face therapy appointments.
But when I attended those appointments, they didn't actually feel all that "therapy-like." Sometimes there were technical difficulties. The psychologist often looked grainy. At other times, there were audio problems. The technical difficulties certainly impaired the process.
I tried it from my laptop and my phone. I also used various internet connections. Each time I had about the same results. On almost every video chat website I tested, the quality wasn't as good as I had hoped.
This is not to say video chats aren't helpful. I'm sure they work well for some people. They would most likely work well for someone who wants to ask a mental health professional specific questions like, "Is it possible I have depression?" or, "How do I change this bad habit?"
To my surprise, my favorite method of communicating with an online therapist was via messaging.I found myself being more open and honest when I was communicating via message as opposed to video chat. It was easier to acknowledge some of those not-so-shining moments in my life when I didn't have someone looking at me.
Out of all the websites I tested, Talkspace was my favorite. They offered unlimited messaging, meaning I could text my therapist any time of day or night. And my therapist usually replied to my messages once or twice a day.
Here are some reasons why I think Talkspace delivered the best online therapy:
They always told me when to expect a reply from my therapist, such as "by 5 p.m." or "by 9 p.m.," and the replies were always on time.
The therapist replied with a personal answer. When using other sites, such as Betterhelp , the therapist often replied with a suggestion to complete a worksheet. But my worksheet answers were never actually discussed.
Talkspace let me choose my therapist. After answering a few questions, they gave me several therapists to choose from. After reading their bios and seeing their photos, I could choose which person I wanted to work with. (Many other sites matched me with a therapist without letting me choose.)
Talkspace was affordable. The fees started at $65 per week (which is about half of what a face-to-face therapy appointment costs).
Messaging a therapist definitely didn't feel the same as meeting with someone face-to-face. And Talkspace wasn't perfect. There were times when my therapist got my details mixed up with someone else's information (which is understandable since they didn't have a face attached to the story).
But it is definitely a good way to get support if you're going through a tough time or you're looking for someone to help you address a specific problem in your life.
Right now, most therapists aren't seeing their clients face-to-face. (They're social distancing, too.) Fortunately, online therapy is a great alternative.
While I can't say Talkspace is right for everyone, I can say that as a therapist, I found it to be the most valuable service out of all the sites I tested.