Is Online Therapy Safe?

Published: June 16, 2015
Dear Is Online Therapy Safe?,

I hope it's okay that I'm asking a question on here since I'm not a teenager...I recently graduated college. For the four years I was at school I saw a counselor in the health center. I had to stop seeing her since I am no longer a student. I do not have health insurance right now so I cannot being seeing a new counselor right now. I've been very stressed since graduating and feel that I could use someone to talk to about a few things in my life right now. It's just been a bit of a difficult transition for me with all of the big changes. I noticed an advertisement for an online counseling service recently. I decide to look into it and it seems to be a much more doable option financially compared to seeing a counselor in person. Is online counseling safe and can it be as effective as regular face-to-face counseling? If so, do you have an recommendations for online counseling services? If you would not recommend online counseling, do you have any recommendations of inexpensive counseling services that do not require medical insurance in the northern NJ area?

Dear Is Online Therapy Safe?,

TeenHealthFX would definitely recommend that you seek out a therapist who you can meet with in person. The working relationship between a client and therapist is a very important part of the treatment process. Online or phone sessions creates a certain amount of distance in the working relationship that is often not helpful. If you have already been in treatment with a therapist, have an established working relationship and need to switch to online sessions or phone sessions after some time working together, that may be fine – but as the working relationship builds it would be best to have face-to-face sessions.

FX can appreciate your concern about being able to afford therapy, so here are some options for you to consider if you are in the Northern New Jersey area:

  • St. Clare’s Hospital receives a lot of grant funding. You could call their Behavioral Health Services Central Access Helpline at 1-888-626-2111 to see if you are eligible for services.

  • Care Plus NJ, Inc. at 201-986-5000

  • VCS in New City, NY (just north of Bergen County) offers sliding scale fees for therapy based on your ability to pay. You can contact VCS for more information at 845-634-5729.

  • You could also check with your local primary care physician about local mental health agencies that offer free or low-cost counseling services.

If you are unable to find in-person treatment that you can afford, online therapy with a reputable mental health professional is certainly better than not receiving any treatment at all. However, FX would recommend that you start by trying to find someone you meet with in person.