Fear of judgment, high costs, and the inconvenience of travel can be very offputting ideas for anyone seeking mental health treatments for depression, anxiety, or stress. But if you’ve ever considered therapy to treat mental health symptoms and been discouraged, telecounseling is often a practical solution.
For practitioners, it’s a modern, and often a much simpler way to help even more clients in need without any of the conventional obstacles to navigate.
In this article, we give an overview of how telecounseling works, and when it’s commonly used. We’ll also explore how you can train to become a telecounseling practitioner, and how anyone who needs e-mental healthcare can find professional help straight away.
What is Telecounseling?
Telecounseling is a way for individuals to find support and treatment online, with licensed therapists in a private and safe virtual environment, so they can get the help they need to address their mental health symptoms.
Also known as e-counseling, teletherapy, telepsychology, or e-therapy, it uses a secure dedicated platform to enable direct interactions between a professional counselor and their clients, removing the need for any travel requirements and often decreasing the cost of professional therapy as a whole.
How It Works
Where conventional counseling involves face-to-face sessions in a professional setting, such as a surgery or psychologist’s office, telecounseling takes place over the internet.
It is a service model that can be delivered and accessed through connected devices, such as smartphones, tablets, or laptops. These allow both parties to connect through specialized smartphone apps, bookmarked links to telecounseling platforms, or third-party messaging software such as FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype.
Telecounseling is a way for individuals to find support and treatment online, with licensed therapists in a private and safe virtual environment.
With telecounseling, online therapy sessions can also synchronous or asynchronous:
- Synchronous telecounseling involves real-time communications between a client and psychologist, such as through video conferences or voice-over-internet-protocol (VOIP) audio calls, and
- Asynchronous telecounseling is less instant, with one party leaving a message and the other responding to it later. Common examples include email, SMS telecounseling, private chat rooms, or time-delayed video therapy.
Examples and Use Cases
By removing many of the geographical and cost-related barriers that typically conventional counseling usually involves, telecounseling is often a more affordable, accessible way for individuals to receive professional mental health services when they need them.
Some practical examples might include:
- Video counseling, in which a client is looking for professional help to better manage their work-related worries, tension, and panic. They may attend an e-clinic, where they are referred to a practice psychologist to receive regular, real-time video therapy every other week.
- Instant messaging: Where someone with depression signs up with an e-therapy platform and is matched with an iCBT expert that has professional experience in treating depression. Their licensed counselor might design a treatment plan for them to follow while providing support through ongoing monthly sessions in a private live chat room.
- Phone-based telecounseling, which might three-way calls between an e-counselor and a couple who are experiencing relationship issues.
Often, telecounseling take place via more than one channel as different media are combined to form a personalized blended care solution:
Telecounseling platform Quenza is one example of specialized software that enables therapists to combine media (e.g. video, text, audio, images) into engaging, interactive blended care solutions. Here, we’ve shown an example of some between-session homework that an iCBT expert might assign to their e-clinic client.
8 Popular Services
E-counseling platforms are one of the main places for individuals to connect with credentialed, professional online therapists that practice in a range of disciplines.
For practitioners, they provide plenty of opportunities to offer digital services to clients, as well as ‘matching’ algorithms that pair you with users on the basis of their mental health goals.
Here are some of the best telecounseling platforms for practitioners and patients, based on their range of features, reputation, and ease of use.
Best Telecounseling Platforms for Practitioners
These platforms are a great way to begin offering e-counseling services if you’re an existing practitioner with your own organization.
If you’re interested in joining an existing platform to connect with clients, our next section may be for you.
|Simple Practice is a telecounseling platform with native videoconferencing technology and a client portal for a small extra charge.|
Suitable both for group and solo practices, common uses for the platform include live e-therapy sessions, client appointment scheduling, invoice management, and private, HIPAA-compliant messaging.
It’s a straightforward and easy-to-use platform for smaller providers who want to get started with telecounseling for the first time.
|Good For||E-therapy, Video Therapy, Mental Health Coaching, Life Coaching, E-Counseling|
|Psychologists, social workers, coaches, and counselors that offer e-mental health services can use TheraNest as a telecounseling platform, as well as a practice management solution to help them run their business.|
For a monthly fee, TheraNest offers all the technology required to host live, HIPAA-secure therapy sessions online, allowing you to meet patients entirely without a physical office.
Some of the solution’s e-counseling features include progress notes, case management tools, specialty-specific assessment note templates, and more.
|Good For||E-therapy, Video Therapy, Mental Health Coaching, E-Counseling|
|Telecounseling platform Quenza is an all-in-one, fully-customizable software for therapists, e-coaches, and telemental health practitioners that want to design and share their own solutions.|
The app features a suite of easy-to-use Activity building tools for creating client activities, video therapy content, psychological assessments, surveys, practice forms, and Care Pathways that combine all of the above into integrated treatment plans for patients.
With Quenza, therapists can create and securely share therapy progress notes, HIPAA-compliant psychotherapy notes, intake forms, interventions, and more – all of which are sent via a private patient portal to clients’ Android and Apple phones. The e-counseling app starts at $1 for a one-month trial.
|Good For||E-therapy, Video Therapy, Mental Health Coaching, E-Counseling, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Telepsychology|
|Telemedicine platform VSee combines medical practice management tools with live customer communication functions to support professionals who offer e-counseling.|
The HIPAA-compliant platform allows for secure, private, one-to-one messaging, as well as videoconferencing for virtual F2F therapy sessions in realtime.
It offers a low-bandwidth video therapy option, as well as e-prescribing capabilities, appointment reminders, and more, making it a versatile tool for blended care practitioners in both group and solo-provider organizations.
|Good For||Professional E-counseling, Mental Health Coaching, Wellness Coaching, Telehealth Solutions|
Telecounseling Services for Clients
Many telecounseling platforms offer access to ongoing therapy with a certified practitioner for a fixed monthly fee. Others provide a range of free peer counseling and professional therapy solutions.
|Larkr offers a host of different telecounseling solutions to help users manage issues such as stress, trauma, or depression.|
Through its mobile app or online, users can try out therapeutic programs such as Larkr’s ESM-based mood tracker, its mental health exercises, or they can sign up for live, private mental health counseling with a qualified psychologist or practitioner.
Larkr’s algorithm can pair you with a practitioner that specializes in your field, and at $85 per 50-minute session, it’s possible to receive virtual counseling anytime, anywhere.
|Price||$85+ per session|
|Good For||Peer counseling, Professional E-counseling, Mental Health Coaching, Couples Therapy|
|While Joyable doesn’t support video-based telecounseling, it does offer clients the option to chat in real-time with professional teletherapists to receive help and support with their mental health issues.|
The app is also a good solution for anyone who wants to manage less serious symptoms of depression, stress, and can be used as part of a wellness coaching program for employees.
It provides a great deal of e-mental health coaching tools such as thinking strategies, psychoeducational exercises, and practical activities that you can do in your own time, as well as daily reminders and access to a professional coach through instant message.
|Good For||Self-help, Professional E-counseling, Mental Health Coaching, Wellness Coaching|
|TalkSpace offers one of the most affordable and well-known platforms for clients to connect with e-counseling professionals for couples or one-on-one therapy.|
Less formal peer counseling services are also offered on the site, which allows users to find support in community groups, if a licensed therapist’s services aren’t required.
For a monthly subscription, users can also interact with a personal, accredited e-mental health specialist to receive tailored therapeutic treatment for their mental health symptoms.
|Good For||Peer counseling, Professional E-counseling, Mental Health Coaching, Couples Therapy|
|iCounseling is a potential solution for anyone looking for professional, private e-therapy to help them manage mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, trauma, or depression.|
The platform offers secure, private connections to licensed e-counselors who are accredited to deliver specialist mental health solutions, such as talk therapy, CBT, and more.
Chat, video, and audio therapy options are available, and the solution even matches you with a counselor based on your needs for a monthly subscription fee. One advantage of this solution is that members can opt for unlimited mental health therapy at a fixed ongoing cost.
|Good For||Professional E-counseling, Mental Health Coaching, e-Therapy|
|Peer support groups and professional telecounseling are two of this platform’s main services – 7 Cups of Tea is a great place for clients to find both specialist and more informal mental health solutions.|
No payment is required to access this platform’s Listener service, which connects users with a supportive ear from one of the service’s volunteers. Listeners are trained to offer non-judgmental support if you simply want to vent.
At a monthly cost, users can also make use of 7 Cup’s specialist telecounselor services – these include unlimited access to professional therapy in a HIPAA-protected virtual space. You can connect to the same therapist each time, for a personalized counseling solution.
|Name||7 Cups of Tea|
|Good For||Peer counseling, E-therapy, Mental Health Coaching, E-Counseling, Support Groups|
A Look At Training and Certification Options
To practice professionally as a telecounselor, mental health specialists must have a few qualifications.
On the plus side, most teletherapy apps and platforms accept applications from anyone with an existing state license to practice in their field of specialty. Additionally, individuals with a Master’s degree in a relevant helping profession and the requisite experience are almost always considered, although different platforms may vary with regard to how many hours they will accept.
Often, telecounseling can take place via more than one channel as different media are combined to form a personalized blended care solution.
In this respect, telecounseling platforms can be a great way for practitioners-in-training to accumulate more coaching hours or professional therapist experience.
What Specialties Are Considered?
Some of the most common qualifications typically held by telecounselors include Masters’ degrees in:
- Psychology: Including specialties such as Psychoanalysis, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or Psychotherapy
- Psychiatry: Depending on the platform, some telecounseling jobs may be appropriate for prescribing practitioners in telemedicine
- Social work: Which can encompass sub-disciplines such as clinical, correctional, and child-related social work
- Addictions, trauma, or substance abuse counseling, and more.
To provide better standards of care, many telecounseling platforms also implement a mandatory training program for all of their practitioners, which can take up to several weeks.
3 Telecounseling Certification Providers
The following institutions are just a few examples of the many places that offer qualifications in the relevant fields.
|Philadelphia’s Temple University has been ranked among the Top 10 schools for its Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Program and its Masters of Social Work (MSW) covers overlapping topics for those hoping to help others as a telecounselor.|
The MSW is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and integrates theory with 1050 hours of practical field experience.
Graduates have the skills to assess, work with, and evaluate individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations.
|Certification||Master of Social Work|
|Format||Full time or part-time, Onsite, Fully online, Blended in person and online|
|Those interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in Psychology can begin with a UT Master’s course from the institution’s well-ranked graduate school.|
UT offers a range of specialization pathways at the post-graduate level, including Clinical Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience, Cognitive Science, and Social Psychology.
|Name||University of Texas at Austin|
|Certification||Master of Psychology|
|Four concentrations are offered at Emory College for anyone pursuing a graduate program of study in Psychology.|
Interested applicants can sign up for a Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience program, Clinical Science concentration, or focus on Developmental Science with the aim of becoming a child telecounselor.
The program culminates in a Ph.D. and is known for its strong mentoring relationships with faculty staff.
|Certification||Graduate Studies in Psychology|
Telecounseling is more than just a convenient, cost-effective service model for individuals to receive therapy. In allowing practitioners such as psychologists, social workers, and mental health coaches to support patients on the road to well-being, it also serves as a hugely valuable tool in the blended care professional’s arsenal.
For anyone with a mental health issue such as depression, addiction challenges, anxiety, or an eating disorder, telecounseling also represents a more private, yet still personalized approach to recovery. If you have experiences to share about delivering e-counseling services, or as a patient, do share your thoughts – we’d love to hear them.
We hope you enjoyed this article. If you’re ready to deliver your own e-therapy solutions online, don’t forget to start your $1 trial and try Quenza’s telecounseling tools for yourself.
With our professional blended care software, you’ll have everything you need to design, build, and deliver fully individualized therapy solutions online, so you help more patients realize even better mental health with your treatments.