How To Get Started With Free Online Counseling In 4 Easy Steps

Updated December 2, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team|Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC

If you've ever done an online search for 100% free counseling services, you may have been surprised at how many options were available. Mental health advocates are making their voices heard, which is helping to change the climate for those seeking care in the United States. If you’re interested in free online counseling, read on for an overview of different types and benefits, plus how to get started.

Looking For Affordable Mental Health Support?

Why Seek Free Online Counseling Services?

Mental health is an important aspect of overall health. It can have a significant impact on a person’s day-to-day functioning, happiness and life satisfaction, and even their physical health. People may seek mental health care for a wide range of reasons. Some might want support in working through difficult life circumstances, relationship conflicts, or emotional challenges. Others may seek treatment for help managing symptoms of a mental illness such as anxiety or depression. For all kinds of reasons, millions of adults seek counseling each year.

However, not everyone is able to or comfortable with seeking treatment in a traditional in-person setting. Some people prefer or find it more convenient to connect with a mental health professional virtually, from the comfort of their own home. Plus, online counseling services are often more affordable than in-person sessions—and some are even free. That means that those who are seeking mental health support have one less obstacle when it comes to getting the care they need.

Types Of Online Counseling Services

You may be surprised at the wide variety of services that are available online at no cost, from free online counseling for depression to free online counseling for teens. Here are a few types of mental health services people may choose to seek out virtually.

Couples Counseling

When two people experience obstacles or challenges in their relationship, they may choose to seek the help of a relationship coach, therapist, or other type of marriage counseling service provider, whether online or in person. Sessions like these may help a couple work through conflict, improve communication, and rebuild trust.

Family Counseling

There are all kinds of things that can cause friction in family relationships, from divorce or moving to illness or trauma. When a family has trouble resolving conflict or have otherwise started to relate to each other in a dysfunctional way, a therapist can be a valuable resource. In family counseling, you can bring your kids along with you so they feel heard too. While there are various methodologies of family therapy out there, they usually involve looking at the family dynamics individually and as a whole to identify disconnects and improve communication.

Individual Counseling

Individual counseling is one of the most common types of free online counseling. When you seek therapy as an individual, you can work with a mental health professional to focus on any mental or emotional challenges you may be facing in your life. Therapy can be a safe place for you to express and sort through complicated emotions and learn skills to help you improve your mental health overall.

Financial Counseling

Since money matters can cause significant stress in people’s lives, financial counseling has come on the scene as a newer form of therapy that some may choose to pursue. While mental health counselors generally aren’t qualified to provide financial advice, they can help individuals, couples, or families understand and improve the way they relate to financial decisions and related conflicts or challenges.

Key Benefits Of Online Counseling

So why do some people choose to pursue counseling services online instead of in person? The therapy method that works best for you is usually the one you feel most comfortable with, so your preferences play a significant role. That said, virtual counseling has a number of unique benefits.

Accessibility

It’s one of the main perks of online mental health services: they’re simply more accessible to more people. Those who have a busy schedule, don’t have access to reliable transportation, live in a rural area, or have a physical disability that makes getting around difficult or impossible, may access mental health treatment more easily online. Finding an online psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist in your area who you feel comfortable with is no longer a barrier, either, since the internet allows you to have access to a much wider variety of providers than just those who work in your local area.

Affordability

Some people who could benefit from counseling aren’t getting the treatment they need because of financial reasons. Online therapy can greatly reduce or even eliminate this barrier for many.

While subscription-based therapy services like BetterHelp don’t accept insurance, they offer mental health counseling services at prices that are comparable to the co-pays of most insurance plans. Plus, there are a variety of services out there that provide treatment on a sliding scale according to income level, or even for free. 

Efficacy

There’s a growing body of research that suggests that online counseling is a viable, effective alternative to in-person mental health treatment for certain conditions or concerns. A 2019 study, among others, demonstrated the effectiveness of video teleconference and phone-based interventions for mental health conditions. In addition, a 2013 journal article shares that some individuals find that online therapy feels even more personal than in-office sessions. Since having a personal connection with a mental health professional can help you feel more comfortable expressing your emotions, this element of online therapy can be helpful.

Looking For Affordable Mental Health Support?

How To Get Started With Free Online Counseling In 4 Steps

Ready to try free online counseling? Here are the steps you can take to get started.

  1. Choose a provider. A quick Google search for 100% free online counseling will yield a variety of search results for free online counseling services.
  2. Weigh your options. Different services offer different resources, and the cost can vary too. Some are free to get started, while others offer certain services for free while others involve some cost.
  3. Sign up. Create an account or profile on the website you choose.
  4. Attend sessions with an open mind. Whether your sessions take the format of an online chat, a phone call, or a video call, entering them with an open mind can help you get the most from your experience.

In most cases, free online counseling sessions provide clients with information and resources that can prepare them for taking the next steps in their therapy journey. If you’re ready to pursue affordable online therapy next, a service like BetterHelp can connect you with a licensed counselor to meet with online—all for a cost that’s comparable to most insurance co-pays.

Takeaway

Online counseling makes mental health treatment more accessible for a wider segment of the population. Since both low-cost and free online counseling options are available, it also removes the financial barrier for many. If you’re interested in pursuing online counseling, getting started is easy.

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