If you’re thinking about hurting yourself or somebody else, please find confidential support by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. You can also call 911 or your local emergency services number, or visit the nearest emergency room.
Finding free online therapists is typically not very easy. If you have insurance, a good place to start is to give your benefits center a call.
Here are a few places that might help you find free or affordable online therapy:
Your health insurance provider. With the ongoing pandemic, most health insurances have started to cover the cost of some online therapy platforms. If you have insurance, check with them before settling with a pricey program.
EAPs. Most employers offer free counseling sessions with the platform of their choice. If you have one, don’t be afraid to send your benefits center or human resource official an email to ask if they offer any services.
Your local college or university. If you’re a student or professor, your campus most likely has a counseling center or social worker who can assist you in identifying resources for support. If the university has a psychology department, they may host free clinics where students can put their skills to the test and help the public. Mental health organizations.
Several national organizations, like Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), can help you find free or low cost online therapists or resources. These are usually trustworthy resources that they’ve worked with before and that they know can help you with your situation.
When to see an in-person therapist:
If you prefer more intimacy or are dealing with serious issues that require exposure therapy or many in-depth discussions (like those relating to addiction, eating disorders, or severe depression), you may want to think about seeing a therapist in person. With that being said, everyone is different and this will be a matter of personal preference. If you have quicker access to an online therapist, you might want to start off this way and then switch to in-person if it suits you better overall.
Who might be a good candidate for online therapy?
Anyone who is willing to listen, focus, and commit to bettering their mental health may benefit from online therapy. However, online therapy is not useful for helping to manage all conditions. A 2013 review revealed that people with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance use disorders can thrive in online therapy. Online therapy is also a great option if you are having trouble finding a therapist near you that suits your needs.
However, someone with a mental health condition that needs more direct management, such as schizophrenia or psychosis, might need immediate, face-to-face intervention. Online therapy might not be helpful for people with schizophrenia, because it may exacerbate the feeling of being secretly watched.
Additionally, if you or someone you know is experiencing significant suicidal ideation, in-person therapy might be a better choice.