How Does Online Counseling Work?

We all know what traditional therapy looks like — but how does online counseling work? This question might be on your mind, especially as we all shelter in place to protect ourselves and our communities from COVID-19. Not being able to travel to a therapist’s office is a significant concern for many people, making online counseling even more important than ever.

Thankfully, with today’s technology, speaking to your therapist online is not only more convenient, but also just as effective as in-person therapy, according to several studies.

Below, we’ll take a quick look at how online counseling works — from the initial set-up to how to get the most benefit from your online sessions.

Getting started with online counseling

Online counseling gives you access to many more therapists than you’d have normally. Gone are the days of having to choose only from a list of therapists within a reasonable commute. With online counseling, you can see any therapist within your state who offers the services you desire.

That means you can take your time to find just the right specialist for your needs. You might prefer to see someone who specializes in trauma, eating disorders, EMDR, teens, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or any number of issues. Or, you might simply be looking for an effective therapist for anxiety or depression.

At Orange County Health Psychologists, we cover a wide range of specialties with our expert team of compassionate providers. When you give us a call, our practice manager will talk to you about your needs and guide you to the best therapist who can help you.

To get ready for your online counseling sessions, you’ll simply need a computer (with high-speed internet and a camera) or smartphone. Our practice uses two HIPAA-approved platforms, and Zoom. Both are very easy to use — and if you’re not tech-savvy, we’re here to help!

What’s unique about online counseling

During an online counseling session, you’ll most likely talk to your therapist using real-time video on your computer or phone. This means you really could be anywhere as long as you won’t be overheard — like a private room at home or work, or even in your car.

Online counseling can also take place at any time of day, depending on when you and your therapist decide to set your appointment. Without physical office hours, timing can be much more flexible.

Tips for your online sessions

Since online counseling sessions are a bit different than the in-person sessions you may be used to, here are a couple of quick tips to get the most out of your online therapy experience.

Check your internet connection and test your camera beforehand. Tech glitches happen, but you can minimize frustrations by doing a quick double check. Give yourself 10-15 minutes before the appointment to test the camera on your laptop (if necessary) and check your internet connection. That way, you’ll have time to reboot your device if there are issues.

Ask for clarification anytime you need to. Things like tone of voice, body language, and intent can sometimes be interpreted in different ways when you’re communicating online. If you ever feel uncomfortable or confused about something that’s been said, definitely ask your therapist to clarify.

Schedule your online counseling session today

Self-care has never been more important than it is right now, and online counseling makes it easy to care for your mental health right from home. Reach out to us at Orange County Health Psychologists to get started with a therapist who can support you wherever you are, whenever the need arises. Call us at 949.528.6300 or email

—Written by Ekua Hagan for Orange County Health Psychologists

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