Image description: A blue and purple graphic shows an image of Jasmine Ricks and the text "What Is an Online Therapy Visit Like?".
Congratulations; you’ve made the decision to consider therapy. During the COVID-19 pandemic, online therapy has become increasingly popular, thanks to the flexibility it offers for safely accessing a licensed mental health professional. With its increasing popularity have come many questions about online therapy and what to expect from a virtual session. My goal here is to provide more clarity about the experience from my perspective as a therapist, my professional experiences working with individuals online, and what you can expect from an online visit.
Is online therapy legit?
Many clients have shared with me that they were skeptical about seeing a therapist online because they were uncertain of the legitimacy of the experience. As we know, everyone has access to the internet these days and can portray themselves however they like, which is why it is important to make sure you’re working with a trained, qualified professional.
When using Amwell’s online therapy, you can trust you are meeting with a licensed professional. Amwell verifies all providers’ information — such as licenses, backgrounds, and experience — before they are allowed to provide services through the Amwell app or website. This means you can feel safe knowing you are working with an actual professional licensed in your state.
Is my information safe?
Amwell sessions are accessed through a HIPAA-compliant website and mobile app. Your provider will join your online video or phone session from a secure space. We encourage you to do the same, so your information remains your information.
What is online therapy like?
In my experience working online and in person, there are not many differences. However, unlike in person, you are using the internet, which means it’s a great idea to assess your internet connection before having a visit. This helps limit connectivity issues.
For your session, you will log into the Amwell platform. You will enter a virtual waiting room. The therapist will receive a notification that you have arrived and will connect when they are ready for you.
Your first session is an opportunity for the therapist and you to learn more about one another. This is your opportunity to ask questions. Typically, the therapist will begin by gathering information about why you are seeking their help and what your goals (hopes) are for working with a therapist. The therapist will then type the information into what we call a treatment plan. Essentially, it’s a plan to accomplish together whatever you have identified as your goals.
Your therapist is there to work with you to accomplish these goals. They may also provide suggestions or identify things that may be helpful to you in accomplishing your goals. After the plan is completed, the therapist will recommend how often you should, meet based on their clinical assessment. You will be instructed to schedule your follow-up appointment online, or the therapist may schedule it for you.
In the following session, you will meet with the therapist to build rapport and begin working toward your goals. Depending on your comfort level, your therapist will likely spend time getting to know you and learning more about your background and the issue you’re seeking help with. It often takes times to understand in order to help resolve the issue.
What should I do to prepare for an online session?
- Identify a safe, secure space to access your telehealth visit. It should be a place that makes you feel comfortable and is free of distractions.
- Confirm that your equipment and your information are up to date. Make sure you can access the platform before your appointment in order to reduce issues and ensure you’ll have enough time for your appointment.
- Write a list of questions. The initial meeting with a therapist is to determine if you and the therapist are an appropriate fit. Reading an online bio is not enough to determine if a therapist is the right fit for you. Make sure to ask the therapist the questions you need answered in order to assess whether they are knowledgeable in the area you’re seeking help with.
- Identify what you want to gain out of therapy or your hopes for therapy. The more information the therapist knows about your expectations for therapy, the better they can assist you.
- Remember, it's important to find a good fit for you. It’s okay to try a few different therapists to assess which one feels right for you!
Ready to try online therapy? Therapists with Amwell are available and can’t wait to meet you.