Becoming an Online Counselor: The Pros and Credentials Needed
Many traditional therapists opt to add online or telehealth counseling to their list of services. The arrival of COVID-19 has almost guaranteed that every mental health practitioner can provide distance services. If you're already providing telehealth services, it may feel like a natural step to fully offer online counseling.
Whether you want to expand your client base or make some extra money, here's what you need to know about becoming an online counselor.
Pros of Becoming an Online Counselor
Conveniently Supplement Your Income
Therapists who practice in a traditional face-to-face setting have some downtime usually. Clients cancel, health insurance resp put you on hold, or you may find otherwise odd gaps in your schedule. Perhaps your caseload is just not full at the moment.
Becoming an online counselor can help you fill these gaps and make more money. Most online counselors primarily work from a traditional office, and sometimes from home, to supplement their income.
There is one caveat. You probably won't make as much per hour or client as you do with face-to-face therapy. Most online counseling networks don't take insurance, and their rate is lower to accommodate for this and people's average budgets.
It's Easy to Find New Clients
Working with a reputable online counseling network (such as BetterHelp), building your clientele is usually done for you. The company will send you potential clients, and you have the option to accept or decline them.
Learn New Skills and Build Your Career
If you like the process of online counseling, you can use this as an opportunity to build your skills. Learning how to keep clients engaged and moving forward with therapy online is a skill in itself.
If you're serious about building a career as an online counselor, you can take continuing education, train with online counseling networks, and earn new credentials. Developing these skills could lead to new career opportunities, such as management positions in telehealth or online counseling.
For many online counseling networks, all you need to be is a licensed therapist in your state. However, the Board Certified TeleMental Health Provider (BC-TMH), formerly known as the Distance Counseling Credential (DCC), is becoming the widely accepted sign of credibility and training for online counselors.
Your State May Have Restrictions
Some states have strict guidelines about where you can practice with your license. These guidelines may limit whom you can provide online counseling to, depending on where you live. For example, licensed counselors and therapists in Kansas can only offer telehealth services to Kansas residents. Make sure you know the licensing restrictions in your state. Here is an excellent place to start looking at state licensing restrictions.