• How to Find Online Counseling: A Hack to Using Google

    In case you missed it, I wanted to let you know that we are in the middle of the middle of the worst part of the worst pandemic that the world has seen. Possibly ever. With evermore restrictions being sent our way, from school closings to take-out (only) dinners, it can really feel like the walls are closing in. However, for those of us who were on the forefront of offering online counseling to our clients, we are likely feeling a sense of relief that, in the midst of this messiness, we’re not one more transition in the cyclone of 2020. If you’ve ever wondered how online counseling works, I want to give you a little primer on ways to dive into this world – maybe you’ll even consider my pool! I assure you that it’s nice in here!

    Step One in Searching for Online Counseling:

    First things first, if you’re looking for a counselor, chances are you’re doing to do something like this. You will google, “online counseling” and Google will, happily, fill in the rest of the info with “near me.” The good news is this – you will get a TON of results. Yay! The bad news is this – lots of them will be google ad-based and will direct you to the multitude of online sites that now exist to place potential clients with therapists, such as Better Health and Talkspace, to name a few. These companies have a TON of money, so they therefore can pay what’s needed to “swing” your innocent Google search in their direction. I am IN NO WAY disparaging these sites and services, as I wholly support that they are facilitating more people getting mental health when they need it, which is great. But if you are truly looking for “someone near you” who is familiar with your area, geographic region, and the resources in your community, you need to extend your search to look past all of these ads that will drive you to the therapy matchmaking services that are there. For homegrown therapist results who are operating online in your area, I recommend doing google searches that follow the simple formula below. In your Google search, enter “online counseling in NAME OF YOUR TOWN/COUNTY/LOCAL AREA.” Here are a few self-promoting examples, as I offer online counseling in Franklin County, PA, and now, I can also offer online counseling in Frederick, MD and in Hagerstown, MD (and beyond!) So, the searches should go as follows:

    • Online counseling in Franklin County, PA
    • Online counseling in Frederick, MD

    This is just my personal opinion, but I think it’s important to find someone offering online counseling in the actual area where you live largely because they should have extensive knowledge of the other resources where you live that can also benefit your overall well-being. For example, because I offer online counseling in Franklin County, PA, I am also reassuring my clients that I have a network of connections here to which I could refer you for other services that might come up, such as yoga practitioners (for clients who want to work to find safety in one’s body) or skilled Nurse Practitioners and Midwives who can help you through those potential hormone imbalances that we all experience as our bodies change during the childbearing years. Having a therapist who knows your area is so helpful, and so your search for online counseling specific to where you live is step one in finding a good match.

    One other important piece of information to know as you search for online counseling is that counselors are licensed by state and must be licensed to practice in the state in which YOU, the client, are located. What is amazing about this is that this opens up, through online counseling, the number of practitioners who you are technically able to see, based on state restrictions. You could live in Chambersburg, PA yet find an amazing therapist who is perfect for you in Erie, PA. There are no restrictions that preclude you from doing this, but just know that the therapist in Erie may not be as familiar with where you live and the resources available there. On the contrary, finding a therapist who “fits” with your specific needs or “niche” may be even more important to you which means that having options all over your state could really allow you to find your “counselor unicorn,” that perfect match for you that just totally gets where you’re coming from. Online counseling has really allowed for a maximization of opportunity for clients and for therapists, so take advantage and get your needs met!

    Step Two In Searching for Online Counseling:

    Similar to step one, in which you have utilized your trusty friend, Google, to search for online counseling options, you probably also then want to use Google to learn more info about whatever your search results turned up. This is where I tell you that, I will bet you money, your number one search result is coming up through Psychology Today. Here’s an example of this process:

    One – you follow my advice above and google, “online counseling in Franklin County, PA,” you bypass Betterhelp and TalkSpace options (or go there, there is nothing wrong with them, but that’s the topic of another blog) and you see my practice, Rockwell Wellness Counseling, LLC as the 6th top rank on google, two listings below where you first saw my name in Psychology Today. My actual personal website is where the most information about me and my practice is available, but similar to the online therapist matching services I shared earlier, Psychology Today has a very high budget for google ads, and therefore they will always outrank small listings, like my little practice. Again, there is nothing wrong with this, but it means that you need to work a little harder to dig deeper into researching therapists who might be right for you based on your search. Psychology Today is an excellent resource in that it gives you a vast number of therapist options, along with profiles about each therapist, and yet it can be extremely overwhelming when your search provides you with TOO many options. Here’s an example. Let’s pretend you go to Psychology Today and search Frederick’s zip code of 21701. This search, unfiltered, provides you with 10 PAGES OF RESULTS. If you’re already in an emotional space in which you are vulnerably searching for counseling, this can feel VERY overwhelming.

    Two – If it’s online counseling that you are looking for, which is the safest option right now, I recommend following this recipe to get good, researchable results to get you on the road to wellness by finding an online counselor that’s a good match for you. Again, I’m using Frederick, MD’s info as your example:

    • Google “online counseling Frederick, MD”
    • Look further down in results, and you’ll see listings through Psychology Today. This is fine if you’re looking for an abundance of results
    • Look down a bit further, and you will start to see results that are actual practice websites that are listing online counseling as one of their primary services in YOUR area – this is good! Start digging into these websites to see if you feel like any of these practitioners are a good fit for you
    • For example, in a search of “online counseling Frederick, MD,” my website is currently on page 6 of Google after other relevant Frederick practices and all the ad-supported sites. That’s not great, but it’s not terrible either. I’ll take it.

     

     

    As we unfortunately move into the heart of the pandemic, finding online counseling in your area with someone who has a practice set up just for that might be the perfect addition to your wellness kit. I offer online counseling in Pennsylvania and online therapy in Maryland. If you’ve been considering counseling but have felt overwhelmed by even attempting to search for one, I hope that this little “recipe for finding an online counselor” helps you!