Frequently Asked Questions About Online Counseling’s Benefits

Content Warning: The beginning of this article may be too disturbing for some. 

After earning a culinary degree, I started working in some famous restaurants in New York until a world-class chef offered to mentor me if I agreed to become the head chef in his newest restaurant. However, the catch was that the new job was in London.

I was excited because I could finally get out of my family’s grasp. Although they would undoubtedly consider moving to the UK to be with me, I knew that they had limitations, too. None of them could leave everything behind in the US, especially not my father, who had a construction company to run. Hence, after some push and pull, I got their approval. 

Before I could board my plane, Mom hugged me tightly and said, “Make sure to have your pepper spray with you all the time. Aside from the big one in your bag, buy a keychain-sized bottle or three.”

I rolled my eyes. This was the stranger-danger talk again. I never encountered anyone who tried to act untoward around me, so I felt like it was a useless reminder at that point.

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The Harsh Truth

The first few days in London were beyond incredible. My new boss got a cozy apartment and a Mini Cooper for me, so I got to travel around the city independently. He even gave me access to the gyms and spas that he owned, saying that I could use the amenities anytime. It seemed like I got lucky in the boss department because of all the benefits I got before the actual job even started.

Then, a night before my first day at the new restaurant, my boss invited me over to his house, claiming that his wife wanted to get to know me better. I drove to their place at once, eager to please everyone. However, when I arrived, I sensed that no one else was there except for my boss. I still did not think bad of the situation; I kept telling myself that the wife would pop up anytime soon. My boss offered red wine to me, and I accepted a glass politely.

The topics that my boss wanted to talk about were quite casual, to be honest. He asked about my family; he spoke of the early days of his relationship with his wife. Just then, he asked, “Don’t you have a boyfriend back home?”

“Oh, no, sir,” I replied hurriedly, worrying that my boss might take that against me.

To my confusion, my boss smirked. “Well, my wife is actually out of town, so I’m practically single this weekend.”

My confusion turned into horror as my boss grabbed my head and kissed me roughly on the lips. I tried pushing him away, but he didn’t budge. Worse, he kept forcing his tongue into my mouth. Luckily, I remembered self-defense 101: crush the man’s jewels. I held on to my boss’s shouldered and kneed him between the legs so hard that he let go of me immediately.

“You’re fired!” he yelled angrily at my fleeting back.  

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Collecting The Pieces 

I packed my clothes in a hurry and took the earliest flight back to the US that night. My parents were surprised to see me, but their faces hardened as I told them that my boss tried to molest me. The entire family convened at the house, and they all got busy calling every authoritative figure they knew to make sure that my boss would pay for what he did to me. And he did – he lost his wife, businesses, and reputation and even went to prison.

All these happened in a couple of months, and I barely had time to process what I went through. I would sometimes have nightmares about the whole thing, but I never told my loved ones about them to avoid worrying them further. Before I spiraled down, though, I learned about online counseling through friends.

What are the advantages of online counseling? 

 Online counseling makes mental help accessible to people from different parts of the globe. It is an advantage, considering not everyone lives close enough to a psychologist or psychiatrist. This form of therapy promises that the patients can be guided through their issues without traveling anywhere.

Another advantage of online counseling is its affordability. You won’t need to shell out more than $30 or $40 for every hour you spend talking to a licensed therapist. That amount is not enough for traditional counseling.

Online counseling also offers convenience, considering you don’t have to schedule appointments or wait for hours at a counselor’s office. When you sign up, it will only take minutes to connect with a counselor.

Why is counseling important to mental health? 

 Counseling is vital to mental health because psychological problems are not like physical ailments that can mostly be treated by medication. When the patient goes through counseling, the counselor can walk them through acknowledging and assessing their problems and then coming up with solutions. Thus, the patient may never need to get prescriptions.

What is online mental health therapy? 

 Online therapy is a modern form of counseling in which patients can receive treatment through virtual communication. Some say that it can be as effective as face-to-face therapy, but further research is essential before mental health professionals recommend it to more people.

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What are the benefits of teletherapy? 

 You will realize that teletherapy ensures that the patient’s treatment does not halt due to the get-go’s distance issues. They need not travel to receive therapy – it can be done wherever they are in the world.

Since the treatment takes place at home most of the time, the patient may seem more at ease than ever. That is another plus because it allows them to open up to the counselor and speed up their healing process.

Furthermore, online counselors are not tied to the eight-to-five schedule that traditional ones follow. Whether you feel blue at 2 P.M. or 3 A.M., a mental health professional will be available to help you get through your thoughts and emotions.

Is online therapy effective? 

 Yes, online therapy is technically effective. Many individuals have claimed to get better after a few sessions with their virtual counselor. 

What are the pros and cons of Internet-based counseling? 

 The primary advantage of internet-based counseling is that it is more affordable than traditional counseling. For instance, BetterHelp may charge you $30 per hour, while a regular counselor may ask for $150 for the same kind of therapy. Should you choose online counseling, you only need to pay for a fifth of the latter charges.

The convenience of receiving mental health assistance at home or anywhere you are is unrivaled, too. It entails that you need not be in the same place as the counselor before guiding you well. 

Aside from that, there is no risk of anyone else knowing that you get counseling. Privacy matters for a lot of people, after all. Sometimes, even if the counselor keeps your files confidential, a colleague or relative may still catch you walking in or out of the facility and coax you to reveal your condition. The fact that you can even chat with the counselor allows you to be as discreet as possible.

Meanwhile, the disadvantage of internet-based counseling is that it is not recommendable for a broad range of mental disorders. Sure, it may work for people with depression or anxiety, but it cannot help folks with severe psychiatric illnesses.

Online counseling may also take place through texts. While it seems like a pro, it is a con because many individuals cannot convey their thoughts and emotions in written form. Hence, the counselor may find it tough to help them.

Is online therapy expensive? 

 No, online therapy is inexpensive. If you want to avoid the services for free, there’s 7 Cups of Tea for you. In case you do not wish to see your therapist or be seen by them through a video call ever, you may get therapy from Talkspace. If you want the latter’s opposite and get the full experience without leaving the house, BetterHelp is an ideal mental help provider for you. 

What is the best online counseling? 

 According to research, Talkspace is the best online counseling provider. People like the fact that its app is easy to navigate and excellent therapists and customer support team. 

Does insurance pay for online counseling? 

 In reality, insurance companies do not pay for online counseling. However, some states have parity laws in motion that necessitate them to reimburse their clients’ virtual counseling payments.

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Is online counseling Safe? 

 Yes, online counseling is safe. That is especially true if you sign up for counseling at a trustworthy platform.

Which is better, BetterHelp, or Talkspace? 

 BetterHelp is better in the sense that the platform offers a live video session to clients. Talkspace has more straightforward features, considering they only allow the patients to chat or text with the counselors.

Will insurance companies pay for telehealth? 

 The answer is mostly no, considering there is no national law at the time of writing that requires insurance companies to reimburse a patient’s telehealth fees. Luckily, a growing number of states have parity laws that require them to do otherwise. If you are unsure, you may ask your agent about it.

What is a 95 modifier? 

 A 95 modifier refers to the total number of minutes that the mental health professional and the patient consumed during their video interaction. The former typically uses it to claim their fees.

How do I pay for my telemedicine services? 

 The payment method for telemedicine services is similar to that of anything you purchase – it can be through credit or cash. You may ask the provider which one they prefer to use.

What is the difference between e visit and telehealth?

When a mental health professional does an e-visit, you interact with the patient through texts or chats. As for telehealth, it involves the use of a camera to do a virtual face-to-face consultation.

Final Thoughts

Technically, online counseling is not designed for victims of sexual abuse. However, because it caused me to develop depressive symptoms, talking to a counselor virtually allowed me to have a confidante who would not look at me pitifully or say that everything would be okay. I preferred taking action more than being idealistic about my situation, after all.

Am I 100% okay now? No. I don’t think anyone will ever feel that way after such an ordeal. But what’s important is that I’m learning to be better every day. It’s all thanks to online counseling.

Helping Out An Abused Co-Worker During Lockdown

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It was my last day at work, and I was wrapping up my table when I passed by my office mate Diana on the way out. We were told that the whole city was going to be on lockdown the next and that the office will have to shut down for a week. I heard rumors that we will be working from home, and we were told to bring our work laptops and other work essentials. Diana, as I passed by, was crying, and I could see that her arms had bruises in it.

Continue reading “Helping Out An Abused Co-Worker During Lockdown”

Psychiatrist Believes A Girl’s Rape Is Not Consensual  

“Sexual assault is any sexual act, which is unwelcome or unwanted. It is sometimes committed through use of manipulation, coercion, intimidation, threats, force, or a controlled substance. It can range from sexual battery, to threat of sexual assault, to rape,” according to Hung Tran, Psy.D.

I was raped when I was only 12 years old by a male friend.  I was afraid to tell anyone because I knew they will blame me that it happened.  And it did not stop there. It happened again and again.  Am I really to blame? 

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How To Kick Victim-Blaming In The Butt According To A Therapist

 

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Rape is the most painful experience that could happen to any woman.  Rape victims are always the biggest losers. “According to a telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 16,507 adults, nearly one in five women has been a victim of rape or attempted rape and one in 71 men reports having been raped or the target of attempted rape,” says Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP. Furthermore, she said, “Rape is a violent crime. It brutally assaults the victim’s core self and the physical, psychological, neurological, and cognitive systems that integrate functioning.”

Continue reading “How To Kick Victim-Blaming In The Butt According To A Therapist”

Rape: Sexual Assault And Abuse

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“Rape is a violent crime. It brutally assaults the victim’s core self and the physical, psychological, neurological, and cognitive systems that integrate functioning,” says Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP.

Rape is any form of non-consensual sexual contact. Excellent examples are the use of force, pressure, drugs, threat, or influence to get an individual to do a sexual act unwillingly. Victims of rape can be anyone. It doesn’t discriminate age or gender. It happens in different situations such as a date, a party, walking alone in a dark place, or visiting an acquaintance or a friend. However, women are the most susceptible to becoming a target since society considers them a little weaker compared to men.

Continue reading “Rape: Sexual Assault And Abuse”

Perpetuating Rape Culture: How The Home Can Make Or Break Society

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People’s behavior, a way of thinking, perspectives, and worldviews are profoundly shaped by the environment and people to which they have been exposed to while growing up. Chances are, people have the same mindset as their general household. Although this is far from conclusive, it cannot be denied that the dynamics of the home tend to largely affect who people turn out to be in the future.

Continue reading “Perpetuating Rape Culture: How The Home Can Make Or Break Society”

Keeping Secrets: Why Do Rape Victims Do It?

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Rape is one of the sensitive issues that many women are not comfortable with. A recent study shows that around eighty percent of women do not report the fact that they have been raped or sexually assaulted. “In reality, sexual assaults committed by strangers comprise only a very small percentage. An individual is 73% more likely to be assaulted by someone they know or someone close to them,” says Hung Tran, Psy.D. There are lots of reasons why these individuals prefer to keep the incident all to their selves. In this article, we are going to discuss the top reasons for this sad reality.

Continue reading “Keeping Secrets: Why Do Rape Victims Do It?”

Rape Myths

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Rape is an act which involves sexual intercourse or penetration against a person without that person’s consent. The term “rape” is often an equivalent of the term “sexual assault,” which includes any act involving sexual contact to a person who doesn’t explicitly agree to engage in such an act. “Rape is a violent crime. It brutally assaults the victim’s core self and the physical, psychological, neurological, and cognitive systems that integrate functioning,” says Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP.

Rape myths are “prejudicial, stereotyped, or false beliefs about rape, rape victims, and rapists.” Aside from the emotional and psychological effects of rape, rape myths may also pose harm to the victims, whether female or male.

Female Rape Myths

Examples of myths against female rape victims include the following statements:

It’s her fault that she got raped because…

  • she got drunk;
  • she wore low‐cut tops or short skirts;
  • she went home with a man she doesn’t know;
  • the way she said “no” was ambiguous;
  • she went to the home or apartment of a man on the first date;
  • she’s hitchhiking;
  • she thought she’s too good to talk to guys on the street.

“It is important to remember that no one willingly invites violence against him or her. Nothing we do, say, or how we dress should serve as justification for violence or violation of our personal space and physical boundaries,” Hung Tran, Psy.D. said.

 

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It wasn’t rape because…

  • she didn’t physically resist having sex;
  • she didn’t have any bruises or marks;
  • the rapist didn’t have any weapon to threaten her.

It is not the guy’s fault because…

  • he was very sexually aroused that he didn’t even realize she was resisting;
  • his sex drive got out of control.

She wanted it because…

  • she finds being physically forced into sex a real “turn‐on”;
  • she secretly desires to be raped;
  • she has an unconscious wish to be raped and may have then unconsciously set up a situation in which someone would attack her.

She is lying because…

  • she agreed to have sex and “changed her mind” afterward;
  • she was accusing him of rape to get back at him;
  • she was trying to protect her reputation.

Rape is not an important thing to discuss because…

  • it isn’t as bad as being mugged and beaten;
  • women tend to exaggerate on how rape affects them.

Rape only happens to women who are…

  • from the “bad” side of town;
  • often in bars;
  • not in their own home;
  • single;
  • promiscuous and have a bad reputation.

Male Rape Myths

While research supports that there are more women rape victims than men, we shouldn’t dismiss the significant number of male rape victims. Like female rape victims, male rape victims are also affected by false beliefs on male rape. Examples of rape myths against male victims include the following:

  • Male rapists are usually homosexuals.
  • Male victims of rape are to blame for not fighting off their assailant.
  • A male rape victim has lost his manhood.
  • A male rape victim may become homosexual.
  • If a man gets an erection while being sexually assaulted, then it was not rape.

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What Now?

Attackers or rapists can use rape myths to get away from their wrongdoing. They can exploit these false beliefs to dismiss a sexual assault or rape claim. Hearing someone talk about these myths could also worsen the emotional and psychological problem of the victims.

Hence, whether we are victims or non-victims of rape or any sexual assault, we should all free ourselves from believing in these myths and start spreading awareness against them because they may further harm sexual assault victims. “Disclosure of an unspeakable event is beyond what many can do in the immediate aftermath of rape but that need not preclude reaching for help. Often it is in that step towards help that a small re-ordering of life begins,” says Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP.

Is It Rape Even After I Gave Consent?

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“Yes means yes.” It is of utmost importance that you and your partner agree and give sexual consent before you engage in any sexual activity. Otherwise, of course, it will be classified as rape or sexual assault.

Sexual consent is all about setting boundaries and making sure that things are clear between you and your partner. You should give it throughout the act, but you can also revoke it if you feel uncomfortable. So, is it still rape even after you have given consent? Yes, it can be. “In reality, sexual assaults committed by strangers comprise only a very small percentage. An individual is 73% more likely to be assaulted by someone they know or someone close to them,” says Hung Tran, Psy.D.

Here are some instances that can constitute rape:

Your Partner Removes The Condom Even After You Required It

If your partner removes it either by force or manipulation even after you told them that a condom is a requirement, it is considered a sexual violation. This violation of trust is a big deal for some individuals.

Removing a condom may expose you to different dangers. You can be susceptible to various sexually transmitted infections (STIs), especially if he has multiple sex partners, not to mention the higher risk of HIV. For some couples, sex without a condom also increases the chance of unwanted pregnancies.

Someone Keeps Badgering You Until You Agree To Have Sex With Them

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If someone has to keep pestering you to agree into having sex, then that is not consent. It is practically coercion, which negates the idea of consent. It should be about both parties wanting to be sexual with each other.

Your Partner Forces You Into A Sexual Act To Which You Didn’t Agree

Consent does not automatically mean that you agree with acts other than the one agreed upon. If you agreed to vaginal sex, but your partner penetrated you anally instead, that can be called rape. Acts that your partner forces you to do against your will constitute rape or sexual assault. It does not matter if you’ve had sex with them before. It also does not matter if you agreed to the act previously. Even if you are married, any sexual act done without your consent is still rape.

Consent Is Taken Back At Any Point During Sex

If you agree to have sex with a person, then you can take it back later or even during sex. If you had a change of mind before or during sex, you could still say no. Even if both of you are already naked on the bed, you can say no if you do not feel like having sex. “If a husband holds his wife down, pushes her, or imposes sex by hurting her, it’s rape. Making love doesn’t include making someone cry,” says Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D., a psychologist and marriage and family counselor.

Bottom Line

Consent is as easy as FRIES. Consent is

  • freely given,
  • reversible,
  • informed,
  • enthusiastic, and
  • specific.

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Any sexual activity without consent is rape. Anyone can be a victim regardless of age, race, gender, or sexual orientation. Some people are more at risk than others. Not all rape looks the same so that it can happen to anyone in different ways. You can always ask for help should you experience them. You are not alone. Your voice will not fall on deaf ears, and support is always available. “If you’re a victim of sexual assault, there are many resources available to you. The first and best place to start is at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Their “Find Help” resource page offers a directory of resources for your area, including victim support organizations that can be of further help,” a reminder from John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Survivor To Thriver: A Rape Victim’s Journey To Recovery

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The healing process of recovering from a sexual assault takes time. “Sexual harassment and assault can be a humiliating experience to recount privately, let alone publicly,” says psychotherapist Beverly Engel L.M.F.T. Beyond the physical injuries, the victim has to endure the painful undertaking of psychological trauma. Flashbacks and unpleasant memories haunt the victim at any moment after that, inflicting emotions of fear, brokenness, and misery. Anxiety attack becomes an everyday experience, which makes it challenging for the victim to trust his or her surroundings.

However, some victims fight the agonizing aftermath of sexual trauma. At the end of the seemingly unending darkness, they come out triumphant: victims become survivors. The process of healing culminates in the sense of regaining the confidence and rebuilding the worth of the survivor. According to psychologist Nathan Heflick, Women who place a higher value on their own appearance are more likely to report that they would provide emotional support for a rape victim.”

Movement Against Violence

#MeToo is a social media movement that went viral in 2017 and provided a platform for rape survivors to voice their stories of horrendous sexual abuse and empowering recovery. Founded in 2006, this movement helps survivors of sexual violence find healing and peace.

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The campaign notably funds various forms of activities and assistance which are beneficial to the path towards the healing of the survivor. Moreover, they gather and build a community of advocates geared towards eradicating sexual violence and abuse.

In The Life Of A Rape Victim

Inspired by the movement is Anne Lauren, a woman warrior who battled incest sexual violence committed by her father. She authored the book “Blue&Lavender.” The story tells her horrifying experience and recovery from the abusive incident. Whether to speak up about offensive behavior is a personal decision that should not be made impulsively or lightly; just as there are consequences for remaining silent, there can be consequences for anyone who doesn’t take the time or spend the energy to investigate their rights, plan their response, and document what happens.” This is according to clinical/forensic psychologist Joni E. Johnston, Psy.D.

She grew up believing that she was a worthless human being, deserving of all the violent episodes that happened to her. When she reached the phase of womanhood, she slowly became more aware of her worth as a person. She began to regain her sense of control and acknowledge her strengths and capabilities.

However, Anne’s recollection of her abusive past continued to plague her present, making her feel depressed and anxious. For the past years, she dealt with her struggles and pain alone. Trying to mend from the brokenness, she drowned herself in psychotherapy treatments, medications, spiritual meditations, and exercise routines to support her natural healing. But trying to recover from the hurtful experience and reclaim her identity only made her tiresome and ragged. It is when she stumbled upon the #MeToo movement.

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Gently opening up her pain to the world brought light to the acceptance of her experiences in life. Resonating with her sentiments and struggles, the survivor community shared her sorrows, and Anne was able to connect with them. In it, she found mentors who guided her in the transition from being a survivor to a thriver. These mentors walked her through the path towards a new and better life. She came upon conferences and retreats specifically to support women in recovery from all forms of individual battles, such as addiction, eating disorders, and sexual abuse.

Anne realized that recovery happens not in an isolated environment. Instead, it occurs in a safe place, together with people who understand and share your struggles with you. Uplifting one another, they came off robust and thriving together.