Are you an accredited psychologist or a licensed professional counselor (LPC)? Have you completed earned a psychology degree or an advanced degree in therapy? If so, you could work as an online therapist or counselor.
What does online counseling involve?
Online counseling is just a form of mental health therapy that occurs online instead of at an office, clinic or hospital. The software platform used for therapy is secure and is accessed through a user email and password.
Counseling sessions can occur in several different ways, including email, texting, Skype or video chat. As a counselor, you might “see” a dozen patients over the course of a day rather than two or three. Each patient will have his or her mental history summarized in an online file; furthermore, all conversations are saved in a separate online file.
Some online counseling services enable you to simply email or chat with the patient over the course of a day. Other services set specific chat times/appointments for you and the patient, with IM or chat times added for good measure.
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What online therapy and counseling sites are available?
Online therapy and counseling sites are multiplying, mostly due to the very real need of people to reach therapists and counselors without having to pay a lot of money or take time off from work.
Many online patients are homebound or lack a vehicle, while others are too shy to pick up the phone and make a face-to-face appointment. Still others enjoy writing out their issue (akin to journaling) rather than having to verbally explain it to a stranger.
Some online therapy sites include the following:
This site was started in 2013 and currently has an extensive roster of licensed psychologists, clinical social workers, LPCs, and marriage/family counselors. The service plans that this site offers are in the budget category (as low as $35/week), so your pay won’t be at the higher end of the scale. However, because of the sheer amount of counselors here and patients, you will always be able to log in steady hours.
For just $20/month, you can sign up with iCouch and benefit from its software tools such as an appointment reminder, schedule/client/document manager, profile creator, and video therapy tool. You can also accept credit card payments without needing Paypal. The iCouch user interface is very straightforward and easy to use.
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This site accepts therapists and psychiatrists from many different countries. Once you register with the site, it will enable you to create your own professional profile and website complete with reviews and a Paypal payment button. Site membership is $24.95/month. Each client that you retain after your 5-day free trial period is $29.
This site offers you the opportunity to chat with your clients via mobile phone or on the web. That may be an ideal arrangement if you’re on-the-go and can’t keep strict office hours. Clients pay just $25/week, which reaches into the budget range of online therapy. That also means that you won’t make as much money here as on other sites; however, it’s a good place to get your feet wet as far as online counseling is concerned.
This site enables you to work in several different capacities including strictly online, via phone, or by hosting a workshop, seminar or event in your local area. Theravive operates in the USA and Canada.
For an extra fee, Theravive will work with you to market your services and provide everything from SEO listings to custom blog platforms to announcements of your events, seminars and academic papers.
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How much does online counseling pay?
Depending on your degree and years of experience, you could earn a base salary of $15-$25/hour for your services using a platform like Betterhelp or iCouch. If you have at least 10 years of experience, you could make up to $50/hour.
Once you’ve proven yourself through these therapy platforms and have a solid client list, you might try offering counseling services as a “solopreneur.” To do this successfully, you’ll first need a website. You’ll also need to advertise your services, and that advertising could involve everything from social media posts to Facebook/Google Ads to email marketing.
If you do start your own online counseling business, be sure to familiarize yourself with SEO, Google Page rank, content marketing, and even blogging.
How to make more money as an online counselor
If you’re intent on increasing your earnings as an online counselor or therapist, you should specialize in a field like family or marriage counseling, a given type of psychological therapy (e.g., cognitive behavioral), or a specific malady like PTSD. Clients overall are more willing to seek out specialists in a given field rather than generalists. Also, by specializing, you narrow the pool of candidates/competitors and can make yourself stand out.
Some specialties require additional training and certification. You’ll need to do a cost analysis of what specializing or even sub-specializing is worth to you versus how much extra money you can expect to make. However, if you are considering starting your own online practice, having a forte will do wonders for your SEO and attracting clients to you.