A few weeks ago I published a blog and video in which I explained why I made the switch to online counseling. In today’s post I want to explain some of the reasons why someone might choose having a virtual therapist over traditional face-to-face therapist, and I’ll do so by introducing you to the typical reasons why my clients seek out online therapy with me. You can watch the video below for a quick summary or check out a written version of the reasons below:
1) They want a therapist that fits with their highly mobile lifestyle
A large percentage of the clients I work with fall into this category. They may vary in the terminology they use to describe themselves—expats, digital nomads, location independent professionals, global citizens, professionals who travel frequently for work, etc.—but they’re united by the fact that they they benefit from having a therapist who is not location based. Their lifestyle takes them on the road frequently—either to visit family on the other side of the world, or for frequent corporate business trips—and they want a therapist who they can consistently see wherever in the world they’re currently located.
These clients tend to be accustomed to maintaining relationships via video so they often feel comfortable with the technology of online therapy as well as the sharing of emotional messages through a screen.
2) They want a therapist who speaks their native language and there’s no one nearby
This was the first group of individuals I started working with through online therapy. Many people struggle with the challenges of living outside of their home country, which is only further complicated when you don’t have access to a mental health professional who speaks your language. While you might be able to stumble through ordering a coffee or even opening a bank account in a language you’re just beginning to learn, doing therapy in a language that’s not your own is an entirely different challenge.
Most people find that they prefer to work with a therapist who speaks their own language, and sometimes even someone who is from their home country. Online therapy opens the door to allow people to reach out to therapists around the world who speak the language they feel most comfortable sharing their worries and feelings in. Some clients don’t want to work with someone in their native language, but do want a therapist who has lived abroad and understand the language of the “third culture.”
3) They want a therapist they can fit in with their extremely busy schedule
Many people sense that therapy might be helpful for something that they’re currently struggling with, but they just don’t see how they could possibly fit it in with everything they’ve already got going on. For these people, online therapy is particularly attractive because they don’t have to factor in a commute to their therapist’s office.
The therapy session takes up 50 minutes of their time once a week, and they don’t have to add the stress of sitting in traffic or missing public transportation, to their plate. For many busy professionals or parents, online therapy offers them the chance to press the pause button once a week to focus on self-care, but for an amount of time, and in a format, that feels much more manageable.
4) They want a therapist they can see from their safe space—the comfort of their own home
Now, not everyone likes the idea of seeing their therapist at home. For some people, part of going to see their therapist is the entire experience of getting out of the house and going to a space that’s separate from their everyday life. However, many of my clients prefer being able to have therapy sessions in a space that feels safe and familiar.
A lot of difficult topics come up in therapy sessions and they’d prefer to speak about this tough stuff while curled up in their favorite chair, barefoot, sipping coffee or tea in their favorite mug. Others find comfort in knowing that a loved one is nearby in the house. A surprising discovery for me was that another perk of having therapy sessions from the comfort of your own home is that you can bring your pet with you to sessions, which provides an enormous sense of comfort and safety to many people.
5) They want a therapist who has specific training or experience with what they’re going through
Although, therapists are trained to be able to work with individuals struggling with a variety of concerns, some prefer to work with a therapist who has a particular niche or area of expertise. Many of my international, globally mobile clients start therapy with me specifically because they know I can understand either firsthand, or from the clients I’ve worked with, the challenges that come along with their global lifestyle.
Other clients work with me because they want a therapist who incorporates Intuitive Eating principles and a Health at Every Size Approach to the treatment of disordered eating and they’ve struggled to find someone near them with this focus. Being able to have a virtual therapist opens the doors for many people to find a therapist who they feel confident can help them with the specific struggles they’re currently faced with.
These are just 5 reasons why people might seek out a virtual therapist and the most common ones I find in my practice. However, there are a number of additional reasons why someone might seek out online therapy as well. The bottom line is that although online therapy isn’t for everyone, there are a number of people who might find that it’s just what they need to help them connect with a virtual therapist who is a good fit for their personality, needs and lifestyle.
Since writing this post in 2018, I’ve now transitioned to working as a coach for global nomads.If you’re looking for an online therapist, I can recommend searching the online directory of the Location Independent Therapists (LIT) Community, which I co-founded for mental health professionals around the world.
You can read more about the topics I typically work on with my clients HERE. You can also schedule a free 30 minute consultation to see if my coaching services would be a good fit for you.