Mental health services have long seemed out of reach for the average person. In the last few years, technology has had a significant impact on how people access the services they need, putting everything from groceries to contracting services just a couple of clicks away. Now, as people become more aware of how their mental health impacts every facet of their lives, there’s an increased demand for accessible mental health care.
According to an article published in 2021 by the American Psychological Association, there are somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 apps that focus on mental health. Many of these apps use a self-help format to help users gain more control over their behaviors and thinking patterns. An increasing number provide one-on-one virtual sessions with licensed therapists or provide ongoing life coaching.
To be sure, more accessible mental health care services are generally a positive thing. However, with so many types and formats to choose from, finding the most helpful option can be challenging. For those unable to reach their goals through comparatively low-commitment methods such as virtual visits with a life coach or weekly text message exchanges with a therapist, it can be easy to become discouraged and decide therapy is ineffective.
Understanding the most effective types of therapy can help individuals make informed decisions regarding their mental health.
The Types of Therapy Available
App-based therapy is having its day in the sun due to its convenience and affordability. There are several options available, from message-only therapy, which is the cheapest option, to weekly video or voice chat sessions, which are considerably costlier. Monthly fees range, but on average, users pay between $139 to $600 for this service.
Life coaching is a little different from traditional therapy in that its focus is less on mental wellness and more on setting and achieving goals. This route is popular among people who don’t necessarily have a mental illness such as depression or anxiety but who are trying to establish new habits, improve their level of satisfaction, and create a more fulfilling social life. Clients typically pay per session, with hour-long sessions costing between $75 and $200.
Traditional in-person therapy remains a popular option for those seeking to address mental health issues. This option provides in-person interactions with a licensed therapist. In most cases, clients see their therapists weekly for sessions lasting 45 minutes to an hour. Sessions are usually held in an office, but some therapists provide walk-and-talk sessions, which may be held at a local park or walking track. The cost for this type of therapy is comparable to what clients pay for app-based therapy, with sessions in most areas of the country costing between $100 and $200.
Residential therapy offers the most intensive treatment for those living with significant behavioral or mental health challenges. Treatment centers provide 24-hour care and monitoring along with structured daily routines to help residents establish healthy habits. During their time in residential therapy, individuals may participate in therapeutic activities, attend group therapy, and meet one-on-one with licensed mental health professionals. The cost for this type of therapy varies considerably, ranging from $6,000 to $20,000 for a 30-day program. Longer programs may cost as much as $60,000.
Group therapy is a cost-effective option for those who want to meet with a licensed therapist but are working within a strict budget. While it doesn’t offer the same level of privacy as one-on-one sessions, this type of therapy has a wide range of benefits, including emotional support and the opportunity to improve social skills. It’s also affordable, with weekly sessions typically costing $40 to $50.
Which Therapies Are Most Effective?
Regardless of the format an individual chooses, therapy requires a significant investment of time and money. To get the best return on that investment, it’s helpful to consider a few key factors.
A therapist’s credentials tell a prospective client a lot of important things. Rules vary from one state to another, but in general, to be credentialed, a therapist must pass a licensing test, undergo a criminal background check, perform a certain number of supervised hours, and pursue continuing education credits. Their specific credentials also give insight into their educational and field expertise and can help a prospective client finetune their search for the right therapist for their needs.
With certain therapy formats, there’s transparency regarding the credentials of the therapist. Clients have an easier time vetting mental health professionals who provide in-person one-on-one and group sessions or finding accredited residential treatment programs.
Other therapy formats are murkier. Life coaches, for example, don’t have to be credentialed at all or even have an educational background in mental health. Despite the claims made by companies that offer online therapy using a subscription model, some have been accused of hiring poorly vetted therapists and using paid reviews to inflate satisfaction ratings.
Confidentiality is important to many clients seeking mental health treatment. Information shared between a client and their therapist is privileged unless the client poses a danger to themselves or others. Group sessions are considerably less private, but participants generally sign confidentiality agreements.
While app-based therapy feels anonymous, the truth is that it doesn’t offer the same level of privacy and confidentiality as in-person therapy. HIPAA doesn’t apply to all the user information these apps collect, meaning that companies can—and have—sold sensitive user data to marketers.
Most people have busy schedules, making it hard to consistently see a therapist or attend group sessions. To that end, many therapists now provide hybrid therapy formats with a mix of in-person and virtual sessions. This may also be the biggest appeal of app-based therapy, which lets users talk to their therapist without having to set aside travel time.
Residential therapy offers the least amount of flexibility, as a key part of the therapy involves temporarily taking a client out of their normal environment. For those with serious mental illnesses or substance use disorders, the structure this type of therapy provides is key to the recovery process.
Much of what an individual gets from therapy directly reflects how much they put into it. While some types of therapy are easy to incorporate into a busy life, they also require little commitment. The less accountability that’s required and the easier it is to ghost a therapist, the less likely an individual is to benefit from what they’re investing in their mental health. For the best outcomes, individuals want to ensure that what they’re paying for therapy is consistent with the work they’re putting into it.
What Therapy Is Best?
The question of which are the most effective types of therapy doesn’t have a straightforward answer. There are many variables such as the individual’s preferences, schedule, budget, mental health condition, and prior experiences with therapy that determine the right option for their needs.
For example, someone with mild to moderate depression may gain the most benefit from group therapy or one-on-one counseling while someone with very severe depression may be a good candidate for residential treatment.
Rather than playing a guessing game of trial and error, it’s helpful to work directly with a licensed mental health professional to find the best therapy option.
Finding the Most Effective Type of Therapy
Therapy is effective in treating mental illnesses, but finding the best format can be a long process. If someone seeks one treatment type and they don’t see the results they were hoping for, it can be easy to get discouraged and decide to throw in the towel altogether.
While the cheapest or least inconvenient option may seem like a sensible solution for accessing therapy, it doesn’t work for everyone. For someone who tried a low-commitment format such as app-based therapy and didn’t get the benefits they were seeking, it may be time to seek better quality or a higher degree of care.
At FHE Health, we offer a variety of programs to meet a full spectrum of needs and challenges. To learn about our programs and speak with a member of our caring and compassionate team, call our helpline today.