Legit online therapy for anxiety?
January 21, 2015 4:27 AM   Subscribe

For anyone who has done online therapy, was your experience useful? Any specific recommendations or tips for finding something that is legitimate? I am particularly interested in therapy that can be done over instant messaging.

The above is really my whole question, but I am providing additional information in case knowing more specifics about my individual problems is helpful.

I have bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. I have been getting treatment for 10 years and have not been interested in therapy since an early bad experience. I was much more focused on finding the right meds, which is REALLY important and was difficult.

Currently, my meds are in a pretty good place; my life is also in a pretty good place. Yet, I find it disturbingly easy to get locked in an anxiety spiral. This type of anxiety has had major negative effects on my life. On a minor level, I don't want to socialize and put off interactions. Sometimes, I go into a tailspin about some specific thing that I later get over, but usually the anxiety is more diffused. The most damaging situation is when I procrastinate on everything and don't go to stuff that is really important to go to (class! work!). Getting out of bed and going is the hardest thing, and once I get going I am pretty ok, but "just get up and go" is so much harder than it should be. The inertia/anxiety combination can feel paralyzing.

So, I would really appreciate any advice you guys have regarding online therapy, particularly something that can be done over IM and outside of normal business hours. I know a lot of people may think in person or at least face-to-face is better, but it's not better if I won't do it (and I don't think I will--that would mean picking up the phone and going somewhere or showing my face on skype). I also think writing things down, getting it on the page and out of my head, as opposed to talking, is helpful to me personally.
posted by picardythird to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I forgot to add: was anyone able to find something that was covered by their insurance? Thanks!
posted by picardythird at 4:32 AM on January 21, 2015

NPR has done some stories about therapist-designed apps recently. This one focuses on teens. This one focuses on apps for adults.
posted by bluedaisy at 5:15 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Are you in the US? In case you are in the UK, this is offered on the NHS in some areas.
posted by KateViolet at 6:28 AM on January 21, 2015

I have had a good experience with Pretty Padded Room.

I'm not sure whether or not they take insurance (I'm not insured) but I think you can submit your invoice to your insurance company to be reimbursed.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 7:00 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I tried it based on someone else's recommendation on here and found moodGYM quite helpful.
posted by xiaolongbao at 7:00 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wow! Full disclosure: I work at Talkspace, which does exactly what you're describing-- an IM-like interface for communicating with a licensed therapist.

Treading lightly here, considering my bias, but I'd recommend:

1) Read the research on the topic. Here's an article about a University of Zurich study that was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. They found that online therapy was equally or more effective than in-person therapy :


Here's an APA article with many more references to studies on the subject. Nice quote: "A 2008 meta-analysis of 92 studies, for example, found that the differences between Internet-based therapy and face-to-face were not statistically significant (Journal of Technology in Human Services, Vol. 26, No. 2)."


2) Read about other people's experiences with online therapy. We've been lucky enough to get some press where journalists have written up their perspectives using Talkspace. (I won't link here, but feel free to reach out if you're having trouble finding it). It can help to read something from the user's perspective to understand what it would be like.

3) Try it yourself!
posted by :-) at 9:57 AM on January 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

Check out the centre for clinical interventions workbooks (Aus) for very good free self help tools on anxiety
posted by tanktop at 11:47 AM on January 21, 2015

I have received a decent amount of clinical treatment for anxiety disorders, and I found moodGYM and related apps frustrating and unrealistic. If you've had basic CBT stuff, they will most likely not meet your needs.

For 1-on-1 therapy, I have not heard of instant messaging being used - everything I've seen is through Skype. I do know of several crisis lines (RAINN in particular, maybe the Samaritans too) who use instant messaging apps, but these are specifically for crises and not meant to provide long-term assistance.
posted by quadrilaterals at 1:42 PM on January 21, 2015

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