Answering the 5 Biggest Objections to Online Counseling

Pyramid Online Counseling      Education Center  
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woman wearing headphones on laptop call with counselor

Especially during a global pandemic, online counseling allows so many individuals to receive the therapy and the care they need, all the while conforming to appropriate social distancing policies. In addition, online counseling offers a distance that in-person counseling cannot, and further allows clients to receive personalized counseling services in the comfort of their own homes.

Unsurprisingly, many individuals today are hesitant to participate in online counseling. The added distance between client and counselor, and the uncertainty of using new technology to receive vital care, are only two of the obstacles that potential clients must overcome.

We understand that these are only a few of the hesitations you might be experiencing when it comes to online counseling. That’s why we’ve taken the time to answer a few of those concerns below. While in no way does online counseling totally replace in-person therapy, it does provide a suitable outlet to receive much of the same treatment, and to work toward healthier, happier lives.

1. Concerns with security

This is a primary concern among many individuals considering online counseling: will my connection and my private information remain private?

With an increase in used technology comes an increased threat that the technology could be manipulated or compromised. Understandably, that’s enough to keep many individuals from seeking the counseling care they need.

These same security concerns are the reason why we use a different method to keep your data and your files safe. Pyramid Online Counseling  doesn’t rely on public video conferencing platforms to get the job done. Instead, we’ve adopted a private, secure system for all of our online counseling sessions, one that connects clients to therapists and counselors ready to help.

2. Varying reliability of technology

Somehow, technology never seems to work when you need it most. No matter the issue – wireless connection, audio or video quality, even scheduling – technology often fulfills Murphy’s law: whatever can go wrong will go wrong.

As with any service that incorporates technology, online counseling is not without its shortcomings. However, dismissing online counseling as a treatment method altogether is a bit extreme. In fact, refusing to use online counseling just because it relies on technology is a bit like refusing to bike because the ride might get bumpy.

Despite all of the challenges that technology can bring to the table, reliance on technology is what makes online counseling possible. And where there are difficulties, Pyramid Online Counseling is dedicated to helping you work through them.

3. Online counselors cannot accurately read body language

Body language is one of the key indicators that therapists and counselors study during therapy. Since a majority of human communication is non-verbal, body language is an immensely important indicator for all certified medical professionals.

That said, the online counseling model, though convenient, does present a new set of challenges for counselors and therapists who rely heavily on body language for client insight. After all, most video communication sessions only capture the upper portion of the body – typically the chest and the face – all that’s necessary to maintain communication.

We can openly admit that a counselor’s ability to read and to translate body language is not helped though the online counseling format. However, we’ve seen our own counselors combat this difficulty in a variety of unique ways, including asking clients to adjust their cameras so that a fuller portion of the body is on the screen at one time.

And of course, our online counselors are also experienced in dealing with our secure platform; even though body language limitations may prove difficult to overcome, Pyramid Online Counseling therapists have made successful changes to their sessions in order to reach the same conclusions they otherwise would during an in-person therapy session, despite the lack of proximity. Whether that’s through more comprehensive follow-up questions or asking clients to see and explain their own body language, our health professionals are confident that online counseling can provide the same sustained benefits to traditionally in-office clients.

4. Insurance won’t cover online counseling

It’s true that some forms of insurance may not cover or reimburse clients who partake in online counseling. However, Pyramid Online Counseling does offer services that are still covered by a wide range of insurance providers, under a scope of services that is only expanding given the pandemic’s effects on insurance coverage of virtual therapy. We encourage you to reach out to your specific insurance provider before seeking out our online counseling services, to determine the coverage that applies in your situation.

5. Online counselors can’t prescribe medication

This is a common misconception about online counseling services. The reality is that psychiatrists are fully-licensed health professionals, and can prescribe FDA-approved medication to clients who connect remotely. In-office interaction is not required in order to prescribe medications. However, therapists must still follow the same course of action when determining medication and dosage, despite the distance. If and when therapists determine that an individual client can benefit from medication, they will prescribe and monitor appropriate prescriptions.

Happiness, health and healing through online counseling

Pyramid Online Counseling is committed to helping you become the best version of yourself. And despite the difference between online and in-person counseling, many of the same benefits remain. If you’re ready to take back control of your life, our licensed online counselors and therapists are standing by to help.

Online counseling will never be in-person counseling. However, online counseling services do provide a number of distinctive benefits to clients, especially clients who need help addressing behavioral or mental health issues in their own lives. Despite the physical distance, connecting with a licensed medical professional online can help clients receive the care they need to improve confidence, self-worth and overall wellness. Contact us to schedule your appointment today.

How to Prepare for an Online Counseling Session

Pyramid Online Counseling      Education Center, Treatment & Therapy  
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woman speaking with counselor through laptop

4 things you can do to prepare for an online counseling session

Especially if you’re familiar with a typical in-office counseling session, online counseling can feel like an entirely new experience. Rather than sitting down for a face-to-face conversation with your licensed counselor or therapist, you are now logging in to a secure, online counseling platform, and having the same conversations from home.

If it’s your first time trying online counseling, we can understand the nerves. We want you to know that the online counselors from Pyramid Online Counseling are all fully licensed to provide online therapy, and they have extensive experience with this specific type of care.

Just like our counselors individually prepare for each new client they see throughout the day, we want our clients to prepare before their sessions begin. This means not only calling to mind the items you’d like to discuss with your counselor, but also setting a comfortable mood and establishing the right frame of mind for an at-ease, productive session.

If you’re looking for suggestions on how you can prepare yourself for a productive online counseling session, we’re here to help. Here are 4 easy ways you can prepare before your online counseling session begins:

1. Find an environment where you feel comfortable.

Obviously, you don’t want to take your online counseling call in a busy coffee shop. However, even in the comfort of your own home it’s important that you create an environment where you can be honest and open with yourself and with your counselor or therapist. If that means finding the comfiest chair or couch in the entire home, take the time to make that happen. If that means playing soft music on a loop, find a radio station or online streaming audio channel that can provide that for you. And if that means preparing a (healthy) snack to ease the pre-counseling nerves, don’t feel guilty in the kitchen. The goal is to eliminate distractions and create an environment where you feel comfortable and free to discuss everything on your mind.

2. Troubleshoot your technology before your online counseling session.

Whenever technology is involved, you can trust that at some point, technical difficulties are likely to arise. To ensure that your computer and your internet connection are both performing correctly, we suggest taking the time to make sure everything is up to par. It’s also a great idea to log into whatever video conferencing platform you’ll be using – ideally a private, online counseling-specific software – to make sure that your video call link, calendar invite and login credentials are all functioning correctly. Better to address any issues beforehand than in the moment.

3. Keep the conversation private.

This sounds like an obvious step: make sure that this conversation stays between you and the counselor or therapist licensed to help you live a better life. And to be sure, we want you to make sure that when it comes time for your online counseling session that you take the time to close any doors and any windows that might betray the privacy of your call.

However, sometimes a busy house can’t be helped. And when there might be other individuals in the home who might inadvertently overhear a sensitive conversation, it’s also important that you take steps to protect both yourself and your counselor. Especially if you’re in a busier location, consider playing white noise from your phone or a noise-making machine. You don’t want to compromise the audio quality of the call, but playing white noise outside of your closed door can help to create a sound barrier. In addition, consider the use of headphones, so that audio is fed directly into your ears instead of into the air through computer speakers.

4. Take the time to identify your emotions.

One of the disadvantages of the online counseling model is the fact that it makes reading body language and non-verbal cues more difficult. Because of this, it benefits both you and your counselor if you take a few minutes before the session begins to grow familiar with your emotions. What are you feeling in the moment – about yourself, about your environment, about online counseling in general?

In the event that something during your online counseling session makes you feel a certain way, don’t be afraid to take a moment and identify that feeling for the benefit of your counselor’s notes. Make “I feel” statements to concretely outline feelings and emotions that surface before, during and after your online counseling session takes place. And don’t be afraid to admit that you’re not sure how you’re feeling in the moment.

Online counseling: making change your own

It’s the goal of your online counselor to help you identify and pursue positive changes in your life. Pyramid Online Counseling offers extensive experience to help you accomplish just that: pursuing and adopting practices in your own life that help you accommodate and overcome behavioral and mental health challenges you might be facing. Our certified counselors have experience in offering therapy online, and are ready to help you thrive despite the distance between you and your service provider.

The first step toward benefitting from any type of counseling – online or in-person – is admitting to yourself that you need the help. And just because you’ve scheduled an online counseling session, doesn’t mean you necessarily believe you’ll benefit from the communication that follows.

Take the time to answer the following questions honestly:

  • Do I believe I need this help?
  • Do I believe I can benefit from online counseling?
  • Do I believe my online counselor can help me become a better person?

Don’t be afraid to discuss the answers to these questions with your counselor at any point during your online counseling session. It’s better to address your concerns with the software platform and the counseling model before the session gets going.

The licensed counselors at Pyramid Online Counseling are ready to help. Contact us to schedule your appointment.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Pyramid Online Counseling      Education Center, Treatment & Therapy  
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teenager speaking on couch with counselor

Everything you need to know about cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Most people share similarly simple goals for life: maintain happiness and health, spend time with the people we love and create a peaceful earth for those who come after us.

Even though our goals are the same, the obstacles that can hinder us from achieving them can vary widely. When we experience these challenges, difficulties that are best addressed through therapy, it can be difficult to see past the issues we’re facing in the moment. That’s where cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help, in helping us replace negative thoughts and behaviors with a more positive, productive outlook.

Cognitive behavioral therapy – psychotherapy which helps individuals transition away from negative or destructive thoughts, behaviors or patterns regarding how they see and interact with the world – often serves as the first step back to a balanced view of life.

The way we respond to the world around us is often automatic. Our body will often respond to something we experience before our minds even finish crafting an opinion. Frequent life challenges can condition our bodies to negatively respond to triggers automatically; cognitive behavioral therapy helps to change that, by helping replace negative reactions that worsen the situation with realistic reactions that help individuals see the experience objectively.

What conditions benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy?

Many different mental and behavioral health challenges can see positive benefits from even short-term cognitive behavioral therapy. Here are some of the disorders where cognitive behavioral therapy can yield positive benefits:

If a disorder is contributing to automatic, negative thoughts of destructive behaviors, cognitive behavioral therapy from a licensed medical professional can help. Since the mid-1960s, cognitive behavioral therapy has helped individuals address the above disorders, and others, as they pursue life goals and navigate ongoing challenges.

Are there different types of cognitive behavioral therapy?

Depending on the diagnosed disorder, the severity of the disorder and the details of your individual situation, any one of a number of cognitive behavioral therapy types might be recommended as therapy. We’ve outlined some of the most popular types of cognitive behavioral therapy below:

  • Cognitive therapy: therapy that helps individuals overcome misaligned or incorrect thinking patterns or automatic emotional responses
  • Multimodal therapy: therapy that benefits individuals by helping them address seven distinct, but related, “modalities” including behavior, affect, sensation, imagery, cognition, interpersonal influences and drug/genetic factors
  • Dialectic behavior therapy: therapy that helps regulate emotions, limit self-destructive behaviors and promote mindfulness and self-discipline
  • Rational emotive behavioral therapy: therapy that targets and replaces eliminate irrational beliefs or reactions with rational life responses

Though different in practice and in application, the different types of cognitive behavioral therapy are linked in their shared replacement of destructive tendencies with rational, productive responses to life. By definition, cognitive behavioral therapy not only helps individuals address the disorders that might be adversely affecting their quality of life; it also helps those same individuals to identify the causes of their issues, and work toward eliminating or minimizing their influence of the decision-making process.

What can I expect from a cognitive behavioral therapy session?

Pyramid Online Counseling offers remote online counseling therapy, allowing you to work toward improving health and mental wellness from the comfort of your own home. Whether your counseling session takes place in an office, or virtually while at home, if cognitive behavioral therapy is involved you can expect the core concepts to remain the same.

Three cornerstone principles of cognitive behavioral therapy sessions include:

1. Identification & addressing of negative responses

The first step in replacing destructive behaviors with positive, productive alternatives, is to identify and address the negative responses that occur as a result of the disorder you’re facing. This step can prove a difficult one, especially for those individuals emotionally triggered by their disorders, or anyone progressing through the identification step for the first time. This is where a therapist can be extremely helpful, in helping to mitigate any negative reactions in the moment and concentrating your focus on your disorder as separate from your identity.

2. Establish goals, not dreams

There’s nothing wrong with a dream. In this case, think of goals as dreams with roadmaps. Make sure that your goals are concrete, achievable and understandable. You should understand exactly what your goals mean to you and the steps you can fulfill to help them become a reality. It always helps to establish goals with the help of the therapists guiding your cognitive behavioral therapy session, for additional support and encouragement.

3. Implement new, productive responses

It’s not enough to work toward eliminating destructive responses from your life. Without positive reactions to take their place, the changes won’t stick. That’s why it’s so important that you and your therapist take the time to identify productive reactions to life’s challenges, and that you take it to heart. Make it a priority to identify the best ways to react to life’s ongoing challenges, and don’t be afraid to celebrate the victory when you find yourself experiencing a challenge and reacting positively.

Cognitive behavioral therapy: finding gradual, concrete progress

The first step toward change through cognitive behavioral therapy is simply the willingness to change. If you feel as though cognitive behavioral therapy could help you bring about the changes you need to see in your own life, Pyramid Online Counseling is ready to serve as your advocate in personal change. Don’t let a fear of change keep you from interacting with our team of licensed online therapists, experienced in professional medical care and well-versed in cognitive behavioral therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy provides you with a definitive roadmap toward appropriate responses to life’s challenges. It’s not always a roadmap that’s easy to follow; in fact, you’ll often find that changing your behaviors is one of the most difficult practices to implement and maintain. Don’t be afraid of the setbacks you experience along the way, and make sure you take the time to celebrate the moments when you meet any goals you set.

Pyramid Online Counseling’s licensed therapists are ready to help. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

What is Motivational Interviewing?

Pyramid Online Counseling      Education Center, Treatment & Therapy  
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in-person counseling session between male client and female counselor

Change in life is frequent. Whether we decide to change the television channel or our wardrobe, maintain healthier eating practices or pursue a healthier work/life balance, we change far more on a day-to-day basis than we typically realize.

There are so many external factors – media, family and peers, etc. – that together influence the changes we make. But ultimately, that desire to change, and to uphold our new practice once the change has taken place, must come from within us.

Motivational interviewing – communication between client and health expert, to strengthen the client’s motivation and foster a commitment to better practices – proves that change can start externally. In guiding an individual through concrete steps where they identify issues, outline a path toward change for the better and then go about realizing that path, motivational interviewing actually provides a roadmap for anyone struggling with recurring, negative behavioral habits.

The success of any motivational interviewing session hinges on the relationship between anyone involved. It’s not a class, or a teaching opportunity; rather, each individual learns about the other, through a partnership that sees everyone involved work toward a better version of themselves. Rather than position the client as somehow beneath the medical health professional, motivational interviewing really emphasizes a readiness for change, and the steps required to make those changes permanent.

What can I expect from a motivational interviewing session?

There are a few things you can expect from motivational interviewing, as a communicative form of treatment. Any therapist hosting a motivational interviewing session will first and foremost look to make anyone else involved feel comfortable. Clear, honest communication can only take place if the session is hosted in a non-judgmental, supportive environment.

Here are 3 other pillars of most motivational interviewing sessions:

1. A session defined by empathy

An empathetic therapist during a motivational interview can make all the difference. Empathy – being able to understand what others are feeling – is critical for a successful session, especially early on. Therapists will be able to see the world through their clients’ eyes, and to feel what they feel when they describe their experiences, good and bad. Clients during a motivational interviewing session need to feel like they are heard and understood, to provide the groundwork for a constructive discussion.

2. A venue for open discussion

A successful motivational interviewing session provides a venue for open discussion. As a client, you should feel comfortable bringing absolutely everything to the table. In addition, therapists are used to dealing with feedback, even with resistance. Motivational interviewing allows you the platform to talk freely and openly about your life, without restriction.

You can expect that your therapist or counselor, during regular conversation, will suggest best practices, alternative coping mechanisms, and alternative points of view to help you better pursue a healthy, happy life. Both ends of the conversation benefit from open discussion, which the motivational interview format always offers.

3. A conversation with someone who believes in you

Even if you don’t believe in your own capacity for change, know that you will be conversing with a therapist or a counselor who does. In fact, motivational interviewing is built on that premise: that you have the ability to foster and to maintain positive change in your own life. Especially if you have difficulty seeing that potential in yourself, your therapist will make a point of highlighting your capacity to positively control your own life. Through a conversational format, motivational interviewing helps you overcome self-doubt and reach a place where you can begin to take small, concrete steps toward the life you want to live.

What is communication like during motivational interviewing?

Therapists who regularly hold motivational interviewing sessions with clients follow a simple acronym – OARS – when it comes to leading thoughtful, comfortable, productive conversations with clients. OARS as an acronym outlines the type of interaction that defines motivational interviewing:

Open-ended questions – Questions with no immediate or factual answer. These questions are meant to promote discussion and prompt thought. There isn’t often an easy “yes” or “no” answer when it comes to open-ended questions; rather, they’re questions offered by the therapist or counselor that allow the client to dive deeper into their own reasoning or outlook.

Affirmation – A recognition of the positive aspects of a client. More than a compliment, an affirmation means taking a moment, as a therapist or a counselor, to recognize a particular strength of a client, or something that the client does well. As a client, enjoy the moments when you can pause and take affirmations to heart. Affirming a client’s strengths helps to provide a balance between polished areas of a client’s life and areas where the therapist finds opportunity for improvement. Affirmations also help the client see that opportunities for change aren’t as far off as self-doubt often makes them appear.

Reflection – The moments when a therapist or client takes the time to listen, rather than speak, to absorb the other’s words and thoughts. Reflection is what provides balance during the conversation format that motivational interfering follows, especially during those moments when a client is describing specific details of his or her life, or when the therapist in turn outlines positive life practices. Reflection doesn’t mean blindly following suggestions; rather, it means taking the time to really register the other’s words, and to put them to use toward the betterment of the conversation itself, and their own life.

Summary – A specific type of precise reflection, summary means essentially summarizing the high points of a specific motivational interviewing session. Before allowing the conversation to move toward another topic, or to focus on another specific area of interest, your therapist or counselor will often seek to summarize what has taken place in the conversation thus far. Whether it’s just a summary of your last few comments, or of their points regarding life improvement, summary allows you to benefit from conversation points without overly dwelling on them.

Achieving positive life change through the motivational interview format

A demonstrated benefit for clients who benefit from discussions, motivational interviewing helps to make the desk between therapist and client fade away. Therapy quickly becomes a conversation between one individual and another, where treatment, life, challenges, struggles and victories can all be discussed openly.

Through it all, the goal is change. Positive change comes from within, and when motivated by the right factors, will remain permanent after the change has been installed. Whether you’re answering an open-ended question, identifying your goals and aspirations or identifying with your therapist’s suggestions, motivational interviewing helps you take defined steps toward a better version of yourself.

Pyramid Online Counselors are here to help. Please contact us today to schedule your appointment.

What is Online Counseling?

Pyramid Online Counseling      Education Center, Treatment & Therapy  
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teenager communicating with counselor through laptop

Online counseling is hardly a new service. In fact, the internet has long allowed counselors and therapists to offer valuable treatment sessions virtually, allowing clients to get the help they need from the comfort of their own homes. However, a global pandemic has certainly contributed to a rise in the need for online counseling services, especially for those individuals who were receiving those same therapy services through an in-person, in-office environment.

Fortunately, online counseling – mental and behavioral health counseling delivered through the internet – provides clients with a safe, effective means to receive the treatment they need virtually. Even without sharing the room with a therapist, online counseling services can connect you with a licensed health professional to address your needs.

Let’s dive into the basics of online counseling: what it is, what it’s not, and how it can help you source the care you need from licensed health professionals.

Online counseling: the benefits and the drawbacks.

Let’s get one thing straight: online counseling is different than traditional, in-person counseling. For one, there is a physical distance between client and counselor. Both clients and counselors now need to worry about online security and technological issues. Body language can be harder for an online counselor to read, and it’s often more mentally difficult for clients to receive the care they need in a home environment that’s often busy.

Many insurance providers are slowly onboarding online counseling into their core packages, though many still do not fully cover the same counseling that was once covered as an in-person service. In addition, there’s a widespread misconception that online counselors cannot prescribe medication.

Though different in practice, online counseling still seeks to serve the same goals: helping you take and maintain control of your own life. Online counseling also offers a few distinctive benefits. First, you have the ability to receive first-rate counseling without ever having to leave your own home! Once you can create an at-home environment where you can comfortably receive care without interruption, online counseling offers a more convenient avenue to receive therapy on your schedule.

Online counseling is also incredibly accessible. Individuals who have trouble reaching a counselor’s office are now only a computer away from critical online therapy. Individuals who are hard of hearing can turn up their audio until they can comfortably hear their counselor and follow the conversation. Anyone experiencing visual impairments can digitally adjust their screen to more clearly optimize their online counseling session to their benefit.

Online counseling is not in-person counseling. But through an effort on the part of both the client and the counselor, we can together bridge the distance to ensure that everyone still receives the full extent of the care they need.

How can online counseling help me?

Online counseling provides many of the same benefits that you’ve likely come to expect from traditional counseling. Whether you’re struggling with anxiety, depression or co-occurring disorders, online counseling helps adults and adolescents alike survive and thrive despite the challenges that life might present.

Online counseling is all about pairing the right client with the right type of treatment and level of care. Depending on the issues you’re facing, and the help you’re looking for, you’ll be paired with a licensed medical professional already accustomed to helping individuals like yourself.

Online psychiatrists who are licensed are also capable of prescribing FDA-approved medication, medicine prescribed and monitored by the same level of medical expert who would otherwise administer in-person therapy. No matter what you’re struggling with, online counseling helps you through life’s issues – large or small, isolated or ongoing. That’s exactly what you can come to expect from a certified online psychiatric provider: help navigating life’s issues, compounded by beneficial medication where suggested.

How do I get started with online counseling?

It’s easier than ever to begin your online counseling journey! All you need to do is navigate to the website of an online counseling clinic you trust. At Pyramid Online Counseling, that’s exactly what we’ve built: a reputable name now offering online counseling services from certified medical professionals. Once you’ve taken the time to learn a little more about the online counseling brand and the individual services we offer, you’re ready to begin your therapy journey.

Here are a few things to look for when getting started online:

  • An online counseling provider already familiar with the challenges you’re facing
  • An easy sign-up process that allows you to filter individual therapist profiles, to find the right fit for you
  • Counseling services from a provider with decades of in-person and virtual counseling experience
  • Board-eligible and board-certified medical health professionals to facilitate therapy

Congratulations on taking the first steps toward a happier, healthier day-to-day life. Online counseling allows you to receive many of the same benefits as traditional in-person counseling, all from the comfort of your own home. If you’re ready to get started, we’re ready to help. Navigate to Pyramid Online Counseling to begin your journey toward personal freedom today!