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Teletherapy is talk therapy done over the phone or through a videoconferencing platform. Research says it’s as effective as in-person therapy and may offer additional benefits like skipping traffic and waiting rooms.

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Mental health counseling or psychotherapy aims to support you in processing and resolving emotional and mental challenges, from chronic stress to depression. This may be done in different formats, including virtual or remote therapy.

Regulations for teletherapy may vary depending on the state. But all mental health professionals using therapy services must have an active license in the state where you reside, even if their practice is somewhere else.

In teletherapy, a mental health professional conducts the session via phone, videoconferencing, or through a designated telehealth platform. Some apps also offer teletherapy services that include chats and messaging.

Following the rules of confidentiality and privacy, your therapist will use a secure connection or platform for your teletherapy sessions. Nonpublic-facing platforms are recommended, particularly encrypted therapy platforms.

Therapists have to use platforms that are compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a federal law created to protect your health information.

A teletherapy session is not much different from an in-person therapy session. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and talk about your goals and concerns with your therapist. Depending on the type of psychotherapy, you’ll also have the opportunity to work on specific exercises and treatment plans.

Teletherapy sessions typically last 50 minutes and may involve one or more clients, depending on the therapy goals. For example, family therapy may involve a few people who meet with one mental health counselor over the online platform.

If you’re using a videoconferencing platform, your therapist will encourage you to keep your camera on at all times. If this is something you may not feel comfortable with at first, you may work with your therapist on getting there at your own pace.

Tips for teletherapy sessions

If you’re new to psychotherapy, or specifically to online therapy, consider these tips:

  • Protect your privacy by choosing a location where no one else can hear your conversation.
  • Find a spot free of distractions to help you focus on the session. This could be in your home, car, or private office.
  • Double check your internet or phone connection to ensure you don’t have technical difficulties during your session.
  • Wearing headphones may help block out background noise and make the interaction easier.
  • Keep a notebook handy if you want to take notes or jot down questions for later.
  • Make a list of questions for your therapist about how the therapy will work, what to expect in each session, or what happens if you lose connectivity.
  • Try to keep a sense of humor — there’s often a learning curve to teletherapy for both therapist and client.
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Teletherapy is an effective resource for most mental health challenges that would also benefit from in-person support. This includes:

Some formal mental health diagnoses may require medical intervention, like prescription medications — for example, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In these cases, more in-person sessions may be required before continuing with regular teletherapy sessions.

Every case is different and sometimes a mental health professional may prefer to see you in person every time. You may, however, request an online consultation before you commit to starting therapy.

Finding a teletherapy professional

To start, you may want to write down what you’re looking for. Are you interested in a specific therapy modality, like cognitive behavioral therapy? Do you prefer a male or a female therapist? Are you looking for a therapist who specializes in a certain area? These are all factors to keep in mind.

Other suggestions when finding a professional who offers teletherapy may include:

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Depending on your needs and situation, the benefits of teletherapy may vary.


  • can be more convenient and accessible to people with mobility and transportation challenges
  • brings services to rural areas or those with limited in-person resources
  • may be an option for people who have difficulty finding the time to schedule a session elsewhere
  • may provide mental health support to those living with social anxiety and other conditions that make it mentally difficult to leave home
  • may allow you to continue your mental health treatment if you’re recovering from surgery or living with a condition that may restrict your mobility
  • may be more affordable in some cases, particularly when booked through platforms like Talkspace or Betterhelp
  • could be more convenient than traveling to in-person therapy because you don’t have to worry about adding travel or waiting times
  • may be more private because you don’t have to sit in waiting rooms

The disadvantages of teletherapy may vary widely among people because everyone has different preferences for care.

Some possible cons to consider may include:

  • not feeling as close or engaged with your therapist compared to how you’d feel with an in-person connection
  • having a hard time adapting to the interaction cues in teletherapy, which may be different than cues from in-person sessions. For example, not being able to have a complete view of your therapist’s body language.
  • not having a quiet place at home to focus on your therapy because of background noise, other people, or pets
  • being technology-dependent, which may make it harder to attend a session if you’re navigating power, computer, or Wi-Fi issues

Teletherapy refers to virtual or remote mental health support. Although you see your therapist through a screen, teletherapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy.

Though it may take some time to get used to, online counseling or therapy can be valuable for many people, especially those recovering or living with illness, living in rural areas, or having difficulty leaving home. It improves access to professional care in the privacy of your own home.