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“Put a therapist in your pocket, get help when you need it.” Sounds too good to be true, right?
iCounseling is on a mission to make therapy convenient, fast , and limitless. Because we know how confusing it can be to settle on an online counseling platform, we’re here to help.
Our iCounseling review looks into whether the platform delivers on its promises, and how it stacks up against the competition.
What Is iCounseling, And Who Is It For?
iCounseling is an online counseling platform that’s owned and operated by Betterhelp, its parent organization. The platform connects users with counselors who provide mental health services.
This platform is for anyone who’s looking to improve the quality of their life. The therapy providers can help people cope with mental health issues.
However, you’re advised not to use this platform if you:
✓ Are a minor
✓ Have suicidal thoughts
✓ Are in a crisis
✓ Have been diagnosed with a severe mental illness that requires more intense care
✓ Have been mandated to undergo therapy by a court
✓ Don’t have a reliable Internet connection
Getting Started on iCounseling.com
At the moment, iCounseling is not accepting any new membership. Signing up on the platform redirects you to Betterhelp, where you can get counseling services. However, we’ll still take you through the process iCounseling uses when it takes new members.
Fill Out a Questionnaire
Like most online therapy platforms, iCounseling needs to know more about you to help you find a counselor.
The first stage of the sign up process is filling out a questionnaire to provide information about your:
✓ Therapy history i.e. whether you’ve gotten therapy before
✓ Physical health status
✓ Financial status
✓ Level of social interaction
✓ Level of activity
✓ Significant recent life events
✓ Emotional state
✓ Educational level
✓ Mental health state
✓ Whether you’ve experienced suicidal ideation
✓ Who referred you to the website
✓ Country of origin
✓ Language of communication
✓ Counselor preference: Christian-based, gay, male or female, etc.
The information in this questionnaire helps to match you to a counselor who can provide suitable therapy services. It is best to give accurate answers and be as honest as you can.
Create an Account
Once you’ve filled out the questionnaire, you’ll create an account. Type in your active email and a password. It’s important to use an email that you have access to because all iCounseling will send you notifications and newsletters via this email.
One of the pros of this platform is it allows you to create an anonymous account. You can come up with a nickname to use on the website. This feature is especially important for those who are seeking counseling on a sensitive issue and have privacy concerns.
Make a Payment
At this stage, you’ve submitted info through the questionnaire and created an account. You’re about to get access to professional counselors from the US and UK. You’ll receive a couple of matches but before that, you’ve got to pay the monthly subscription fee.
iCounseling charges from $60 to $90 per week on a monthly basis. On one hand, this pricing model is quite simple and easy to understand. It covers text, phone, and video therapy. On the other hand, some may view it as limiting since you don’t really get to choose which types of therapy you’d like to use and pay less for only those.
Get Matched With a Counselor
It takes up to 24 hours to be matched with a therapist on the platform. Counselor availability determines how fast you get matched. Remember, the answers you gave in the questionnaire determine which therapist you need — not all available may be suitable for your needs.
Choose a Communication Platform
The website offers 4 communication options:
✓ Text messages
✓ Live chat
✓ Phone calls
✓ Video calls
Although all these methods are included in your monthly subscription, you’ll have to start off with messaging. It’s not real-time, meaning you may not get an immediate response. However, counselors endeavor to get back to you within the same day.
Once you hear back from your counselor, you can set up your first session and choose any other mode of communication. Because all other options are real-time, you’d have to schedule sessions beforehand.
iCounseling Online Therapy: Messaging, Live Chat, Phone, and Video
There are pros and cons to whichever communication channel you choose. If you’re new to online therapy, you might have a hard time determining which one will serve you best. We know quite a bit about different types of therapy, so here’s what will help you make a decision.
Also referred to as messaging via the website, this type of therapy is not real-time. When you get matched with your counselor, you start chatting. It’s a great way to get to know each other and agree on a treatment plan.
Text therapy is the most private form — the counselor doesn’t see your face or hear your voice. Because you’re allowed to use a nickname, they have no idea exactly who you are. If you’re seeking help for an extremely personal issue that you want kept private, messaging is for you.
There are downsides to this type of therapy. Without seeing you or hearing your voice, the counselor might miss some clues that would aid your therapy process. Plus, text therapy can feel quite impersonal and you might struggle to get in touch with your deep-rooted issues.
This type of therapy is quite similar to messaging, with one exception — it’s real-time. Although the counselor still doesn’t get to see you or hear your voice, they respond instantly.
Immediate responses to your query can be quite calming and are preferable to waiting for hours. You’ll have to schedule a live chat session in advance to ensure your counselor logs in at the same time as you.
Phone calls take therapy a notch higher — they give it a real, humane feel. Your counselor can use your tone of voice and other verbal cues to draw conclusions. These conclusions might be helpful in your treatment. Plus, there’s more room for in-depth conversation and clarity on various issues.
Video calls make online therapy quite similar to in-person therapy. There’s less privacy because your counselor gets to see you. However, video therapy feels more personalized and offers verbal and non-verbal cues that may aid your therapy process.
As with other live forms of therapy, you must schedule such sessions beforehand to ensure counselor availability.
Who Are the Counselors on iCounseling?
According to the website, all service providers are professionals with the required training, qualifications, and licensing.
A closer look at the counselors’ terms of engagement reveals that they are required to have:
✓ A master’s degree or doctorate in their field
✓ Certification by their respective states’ professional board
✓ 3 years and 1,000 hours of hands-on experience
Some of the credentials you’ll encounter while working with counselors on the platform include:
✓ Accredited psychologists (PhD/PsyD)
✓ Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT)
✓ Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC)
✓ Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW)
Although different counselors have different approaches and areas of focus, the platform matches you with one who’s the best fit for you. They select one who fits your preferences and can handle the issues you’re dealing with.
If you feel your match isn’t a good fit, you can ask for another counselor.
When seeking online counseling via the iCounseling platform, your privacy is a natural concern. According to the website, it has several measures in place to protect your information.
Some of the most notable efforts they claim to have made are:
✓ Contact details e.g. email address and phone numbers are not shared with your counselor or other third parties
✓ All messages exchanged on the platform are secured in a private chat room
✓ Email notifications don’t reveal the content of your private messages
✓ Website encryption to prevent loss of personal data
✓ “Shred messages” option for users to get rid of conversations with counselors
✓ Encrypted databases to prevent data theft
✓ SSL certification to reassure you of data safety
User Experience on iCounseling.com
The iCounseling therapy website has a simple interface that’s easy to navigate. Its policy is straightforward — all you’ve got to do is pay the monthly fees and get matched. Therefore, this platform is great for first-timers.
If you’re dissatisfied with this mental health care service, you can change your counselor or cancel your subscription. When you choose change, the service matches you to a new counselor at no extra charge.
iCounseling Review: The Verdict
iCounseling is an option that’s perfect for new users. It’s easy to use and doesn’t have a complicated pricing structure. Although it’s unclear whether one can get a refund if dissatisfied with the service, most iCounseling reviews online suggest it’s worth trying.