I have a few quick words about online-therapy; specifically when to get help and what to look for.
First and foremost, there are two good reasons to see a therapist: Because you want to and because what you’re going through is interfering with your daily life. The first part is amazingly easy. If you want to see a therapist for whatever reason, begin the process of finding one. The second part is a little bit more difficult.
The phrase, “interfering with daily life” has a distinct meaning in mental health and psychological circles. The best way to summarize it is this: if you have a harder than normal time getting to work, connecting with friends, family, or the things you love, if you need to do [insert specific thing] in order to simply function, you may need a therapist. In the context of the election, if your worries, anxieties, or fears are preventing you getting to work, reading comics, or finding any joy in the world, you may want to consider therapy.
Believe me, on this very point, you are not alone
At ACC, we had a feeling that some, if not most, of our listeners would prefer online therapy options. With that in mind, I looked into a few online-therapy options. Before I give two options that do not appear to be connected to a particular insurance network I have one key piece of advice: when selecting any therapist, the number one concern to have, other than how to pay for it, is the relationship you have with that particular therapist. Strong bonds, feeling respected and valued, excellent professional boundaries – these are all key to that relationship. Therapists know this. If your therapeutic relationship is not strong, you will not get a lot of work done. Do not be afraid of examining a relationship that is designed to help you overcome your issues.
Two online therapy options I found: Breakthrough and Talkspace. I should point out that some therapists are willing to do therapy over Skype, Facetime or some other conference app. These options may not fully protect your privacy – talk with your provider about this if this is a concern of yours.
Breakthrough is a HIPPA secure platform that appears to be platform agnostic. You can use any major browser to connect to a licensed and qualified mental health professional. My major concern was payment – money is a huge barrier to treatment. You can search by payment or insurance type, but I could not tell if sliding scale was an option. The search feature was far superior to any insurance-company website I have ever used.
What I do really like about Breakthrough is not the secure video, but the idea that a variety of therapeutic methods can be applied through video. This means you can have psychoanalysis (frequent sessions, focusing on understanding unconscious thoughts and feelings), CBT practitioners (cognitive behavioral therapy, very popular with managed health care, a focus on homework and connections between thoughts, behaviors and feelings), or gestalt (A holistic approach that has fallen out of favor in a number of circles but has seen a rise in popularity in response to CBT); all have a way to connect with the right client. This is huge. Not every method works for every person, and this secure video ability is a giant step forward for therapists and clients alike.
The other tool I looked into is Talkspace. This is a chat-based tool that lets a fully licensed and qualified therapist connect with a client. It is web based, with apps for iOS and Android, that leverages texting culture to provide therapeutic interventions.
This may very well work with a lot of people: Talkspace advertises unlimited, anytime texting with a primary therapist. They even showcase a Lancet article that shows how Talkspace fits the CBT model. These are two key features that I believe are necessary for this kind of online therapy: Ease of connection and proof that it may work. If you are comfortable with this method of connection, then I think it is an option worth exploring. I do have my reservations: non and paraverbal (nonverbal means body language, paraverbal addresses tone, speed, and how one talks) communication is key to the therapeutic relationship. That does not easily come across when texting. I would hope that the therapists have developed ways of adapting to this medium, but I see it being a very difficult hurdle to cross. I also have concerns about texting and distractibility – that one could be easily pulled away from their therapeutic interaction by other notifications on their device. Again, I would hope that Talkspace therapists have adapted for this concern as well.
If you need help, there is no shame in exploring your options or testing the therapeutic waters. Not every therapist is right for every client and not every method is good for every client. Breakthrough and Talkspace are two methods that may work for you – meaning they may employ therapists that can empower you to get through an election based anxieties, concerns, and fears – or they may not. What matters is if you think you need help, there is no shame in starting with them and expanding your circle outward.