I developed a deep fascination for ships when a mall Santa gave me a toy version of one when I was only six years old. That’s especially true when I caught a glimpse of a larger-than-life vessel on TV. I was amazed at how majestic it looked and how it could stay afloat on the water. I believe it was the beginning of me bugging my parents to take me to the nearest harbor so that I could ride one.

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My folks initially laughed and promised that I would be able to do that soon. However, I noticed that the more I asked when that day would come, the drier their responses became. It came to the point where my mother said, “The next harbor is two states away. It is expensive to go there, much less ride a massive ship.”

Of course, I felt sad and confused since I did not know the meaning of poverty back then. When I understood it, though, I decided to work hard to become one of the engineers who worked at harbors, dams, and other water bodies. I thought that’s the only way I could take my parents there with me without needing to worry about money.

Fulfilling My Dream As An Adult

As a straight-A student throughout middle and high school, it became almost effortless to find a university that would give me a full scholarship. That’s especially true since I was a young woman trying to enter a male-dominant field. With my university and real smarts presence, I could be an asset for them and encourage more women to join their engineering program.

I was over the moon when I received an email from the same company that I interned at in Washington, offering me a full-time job as a civil, hydraulic engineer at the harbor that they maintained. According to the letter, the management admired my work ethic and wanted to hone my skills further. I thought, “Wow! This is it! I’m making my lifelong dream come true!”

I did not wait for my graduation; I just asked my parents to drive me to Washington as soon as I finished taking my final exams. I was THAT excited to realize my dreams.

When Homesickness Kicked In

The job required me to move to Washington for an indefinite period. It was not a problem at the time because I could always take the plane once every two weeks to visit my parents back home. Hence, for more than a year, that had been my routine.

However, when the COVID-19 pandemic blew up, the policies became stricter everywhere. All of a sudden, I could not leave the harbor to eliminate my chances of contracting coronavirus. All leaves got canceled as well. We had separate rooms at the barracks and were well-fed, but I started feeling homesick on the third week. 

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I kept thinking that if I did not go back to work the other week, I could be quarantined with my parents at home. My bosses would not fire me for extending my vacation because it was part of the health protocol. But no, I ended up stuck in the barracks since I went back on time.

One of the few other female engineers at the harbor noticed my loneliness and said that I should perhaps talk to an online psychologist or therapist ASAP.

1. Is there a way to talk to a therapist online? 

Yes, you can talk to a therapist online. The easiest way to do that is by signing up for an online counseling platform where you can find different licensed therapists and psychologists. In case your regular therapist has a website, you may ask if they are available for a Skype or Zoom session.

The advantage of doing the latter is that your transition to online therapy will be smooth, considering the therapist already has your record on file. However, the former is beneficial for people whose current therapist cannot help them much. They have a broad range of mental health professionals to choose from, so they can jump from one therapist to another until they meet their match. 

2. Does talking to a psychologist really help? 

Yes, talking to a psychologist genuinely helps. It is technically better than talking to friends and family about your psychological issues because: 

  • Psychologists have a deep understanding of every mental disorder.
  • They have undergone extensive training on how to deal with different psychological conditions before starting their career.
  • It somewhat feels more comfortable to open up to a stranger – and a mental health professional – than reveal your deepest, darkest secrets to loved ones.
  • Psychologists always have a calming and approachable aura that allows you to feel good about voicing your thoughts and experiences.

3. Can online therapists prescribe antidepressants? 

No, online therapists cannot prescribe antidepressants. Even when you do face-to-face therapy, you should understand that the therapist cannot prescribe antidepressants. That is the case, regardless of the therapist happens to be a licensed psychologist as well. 

The reason is that only psychiatrists have the clearance to do so, given that they are technically medical doctors. But if the psychiatrist practices online, they cannot prescribe antidepressants without meeting the client individually.

4. Is online therapy legit? 

The legitimacy of online therapy has been up for debate ever since this form of treatment has been introduced years ago. Practically speaking, many people were skeptical about it, considering it goes beyond the traditional way, which is meeting your therapist face-to-face. As years go by, more individuals report that online therapy is as effective as regular psychotherapy, considering going virtual does not take away a licensed therapist’s training and education. Nevertheless, there is not enough evidence to prove that online therapy is a suitable primary treatment for most – if not all – mental disorders; that’s why the debate is still not over.

5. How do I see a therapist immediately? 

The reality about seeing a regular therapist is that you cannot always be accommodated on the same day you book an appointment. The reason is that more people need therapy than those who are licensed to provide treatment everywhere. You may need to wait for a few days to weeks before you can see one in the busiest cities.

In such cases, the quickest way to see a therapist is by signing up to an online counseling platform. They typically have a comprehensive directory of licensed therapists available to offer therapy 24/7. Hence, you can talk to a mental health professional even at wee hours.

6. Is online therapy cheaper? 

The answer depends on where you can get online therapy. Although most online counseling platforms advertise their services as much cheaper than regular treatment, that is not always the case. Sometimes, it may only seem reasonable because you are paying weekly. Still, if you tally your expenses every month and compare it to how much you spend while seeing a therapist in person, you may realize you are spending more online.

The key to ensuring that online therapy is always less expensive than face-to-face therapy is to sign up at a trustworthy online counseling platform. By ‘trustworthy,’ we mean a service provider that does not have hidden charges. If they can offer other payment options for people who cannot afford their rates, that is much better.

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7. Is 7 Cups therapy free? 

The basic form of 7 Cups therapy is free, yes. You can liken it to group therapy, considering anyone can post their questions on the platform, and everyone else can see them or join the conversation. However, if you request a one-on-one session with a licensed therapist, 7 Cups cannot offer that service for free – you will need to pay for a plan, which costs $150 per month at the minimum.

8. Is Talkspace or BetterHelp better? 

The answer depends on the services that you are looking for in an online counseling platform. For instance, budget-wise, Talkspace’s weekly plan costs $49, while BetterHelp has a $35 offer. If you do not want to send payments every week, the latter lets their clients pay $1,820 annually.

There is very little difference between the two platforms when it comes to the essential services. After all, Talkspace and BetterHelp offer prompt response times from licensed therapists. You can also use your desktop, tablet, or smartphone to call, text, or chat with your chosen therapist. However, as for living video sessions, Talkspace charges an extra fee for that, while BetterHelp has included at least one session in their costs.

9. Can BetterHelp diagnose you? 

No, BetterHelp cannot diagnose you. In truth, no online counseling platform can offer a diagnosis to anyone, regardless of the licensed therapist also happens to be a psychologist or psychiatrist. The latter can only diagnose their clients if they meet in person. 

This idea complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a federal law that dictates how to ensure the patients’ safety. Since online therapy is more of a supplementary treatment than a primary treatment, its providers cannot diagnose anyone.

10. Is crying in therapy a breakthrough? 

Yes, crying is undoubtedly a breakthrough in therapy. After all, it is typical for people who are new in treatment to assume that they can lie their way through it. Some say what they think the therapist may want to hear; others may reveal some things about themselves, but not everything. Hence, if the client ends up crying during therapy, it indicates that the therapist has broken through the person’s walls.

Crying can be a result of different things. For instance, someone may cry as they recount their deepest secrets and darkest experiences, considering it may feel like they are going through them again. It can also happen out of anger or sadness towards another person who may have wronged them. Nevertheless, if the individual cries near the end of therapy, they may find emotional relief from crying.

11. What are the four types of talk therapies? 

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: The idea behind this talk therapy is that your thoughts dictate how you behave in a particular situation. For instance, if you think that someone undermines you by giving you a favor, you may act as ungrateful as possible towards the person. When you undergo CBT, though, you may see the same event in another light and think that perhaps that someone is merely helpful, and you should have thanked them instead of being rude.
  • Dialectic Behavioral Therapy: This talk therapy combines different techniques to help individuals deal with their psychological conditions. Depending on the case, the therapist may recommend a group or one-on-one treatment to the client and teach them meditation techniques. It is most helpful for binge-eating or self-harming people.
  • Psychodynamic Therapy: The basis of this treatment is Sigmund Freud’s ideas about how the mind works. Specifically, psychodynamic therapy suggests that every experience we have had contributes to how or who we become in the future. Because of that, psychodynamic therapists help their clients to be vulnerable enough to travel back down the memory lane and face issues and experiences that they may have buried in history.
  • Humanistic Therapy: It is safe to say that humanistic therapy is the opposite of psychodynamic treatment, given that it focuses on a client’s present and future. The basic premise of this talk therapy is that you can overcome your psychological issues when you fix your relationship with yourself and other people around you. Once that happens, you may be able to reach your full potential.

12. How can a therapist help you?

A therapist can do the following:

  • Assess your mental health status and diagnose whatever disorder(s) you may have;
  • Help you understand where your paranoia, anxiety, and fears come from and how you can handle or get rid of them;
  • Improve the way you think about goals and the importance of making them as realistic as possible;
  • Encourage you to face your history, no matter how dark it may seem, and start making amends within yourself;
  • Teach you how to create a routine that you can depend on all the time;
  • Give you all the right tools to develop a plan on how to deal with crisis and stress;
  • Help you realize why you perceive a situation in a certain way and how it affects your way of life;
  • Show you what you can do to alter every relationship you have for the better;
  • Increase your awareness about the differences between your real thoughts and the ones that your illness may have brought to the surface;
  • Inform you of the possible triggers to watch out for so that they will not catch you off-guard in the most unfortunate moments; and
  • Make you see the fault in your habits and how you can turn your life around.
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Final Thoughts

Since that day, I had probably been chatting with a mental health professional a few times a week. That’s especially true when I did not know what to do with my loneliness. Without the guidance of the online psychologists or therapists that I talked to, I might have snuck out of the barracks or jumped in the water, and I could not decide which was worse than the other.