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  12 Nov 2021  Free online therapy: Understanding therapy vs. free counseling

Free online therapy: Understanding therapy vs. free counseling

Published : Nov 12, 2021, 5:14 pm IST
Updated : Nov 13, 2021, 4:51 pm IST

Words matter and the words you use will inform your clients about what to expect from you

People can find licensed therapists and counselors by asking friends and family. (Photo by arrangement)
 People can find licensed therapists and counselors by asking friends and family. (Photo by arrangement)

Online therapy is growing rapidly as more and more people adopt technologies for mental health treatment. There are many terms used to describe online therapy. Sometimes, it is called – "e-therapy" or "online counseling". However, the most common term is "online therapy."

There is not any difference between online therapy and traditional (in-office) therapy, other in their mode of operation. Online therapy happens when you chat with a therapist online.

Basic requirements for Online Therapy

Regardless of the approach, client confidentiality is always important. Therefore, it is usually wise to avoid overly specific terms. Terms like "online counseling" or "Internet therapy" might be accurate in some cases. However, they can also imply that what you do is very different or less sound than traditional therapy.

Words matter and the words you use will inform your clients about what to expect from you. Therefore, it is important to understand the difference in these terms and carefully define your services as an online therapist.

Understanding Therapy and Counseling

First, it might help to explain some important distinctions between counseling and therapy. Many people use these terms interchangeably. However, they have different meanings. Some therapists say that people who do online counseling or internet therapy simply are not real therapists.

It is easy for this confusion to come up because both types of professionals help clients work through a variety of issues in a confidential setting. However, here are important clarifications to get you started:

•    Counseling deals with non-medical issues, such as relationship troubles. It can sometimes be provided by unregistered people unlike in therapy

•    Therapy, on the other hand, is for those who might be dealing with serious problems such as depression or addiction.

•    They all require training. You cannot practice counseling or therapy without physical certifications or licenses. However, it is important to know that there are definite differences.

A licensed therapist or counselor has worked towards a college degree and has completed the necessary coursework. This helps them to gain licensing from their state. In that case, they receive training both in developing healthy relationships and in clinical matters. This is a requirement by most states.

•    Both therapists and counsellors usually work under supervision for several years before practising independently. Licensed professionals also generally have a physical office or space where their clients can come to see them. This is important because it allows the counselor and client to build rapport in a setting that is familiar for both parties.

Finding a Therapist and a Counselor

People can find licensed therapists and counselors by asking friends and family. You can also consult with your primary care physician or even call your insurance company for help. Going through this process takes some time. However, it ensures that the therapist or counselor and client match up on the most important things: background and values.

So, is the work of a therapist and counselor the same? Not entirely true.  Here is some information to help you get the difference:

•    It is generally safe to try free therapy with a trusted friend or family member who has done therapy before. However, it is not recommended for people who are dealing with complicated issues such as drug abuse, depression or thoughts of suicide.

•    Therapy is most often used to treat mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. However, it is also useful in treating physical problems such as chronic pain or illness, and interpersonal issues such as grief or marital strife. Therefore, it sometimes involves medication.

•    Many free counseling websites suggest that their services are for people who cannot afford to pay for therapy. However, there are no federal laws requiring therapists to accept insurance, so the "unable to afford" disclaimer should be taken with a grain of salt. For people who have minor issues, this type of therapy can be a great place to start.

•    The best type of free counselling is peer support. This is when someone helps you deal with your problems by listening and understanding what you are going through. It is for emotional or psychological concerns.

Counseling is not the same as therapy although they are related in some way. This is especially looking at the setting and approach taken for both. However, therapy handles more complicated issues than counseling does. 

Disclaimer: No Asian Age journalist was involved in creating this content. The group also takes no responsibility for this content.

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