Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that is brought on by distressing events. Common sufferers of PTSD are war veterans and victims of child abuse, but any event that causes extreme stress can cause PTSD.
The effects of PTSD can manifest in many ways. Commonly, PTSD sufferers will have insomnia, nightmares, or find it difficult to concentrate. Flashbacks to traumatic events are often relived and replayed as general anxiety and negative changes in a person’s mood and emotional reactions.
Medications such as sertraline and paroxetine are commonly administered, but a huge part of getting treatment is psychological treatment with a licensed therapist. Because of the important role therapy plays in PTSD treatment, many have been turning to online platforms. This article explores those online services, answers questions like “does talk therapy work for PTSD?”, and examines the platforms available.
There is no single best therapist for PTSD and anxiety online or single best platform. However, there will be platforms that focus on online therapy for childhood trauma, whilst others may focus on cheap access to CBT.
So, we have taken their specialization into account (or lack thereof) and broken down each platform into elements of pricing, treatments available, software performance, customer service, and safety.
BetterHelp is considered to be an industry leader when it comes to online therapy for trauma, anxiety, or depression. Because it’s the largest site, it has the best-performing app, easy sign-ups, and the most therapists to choose from. It performs great in every way big tech firms do.
BetterHelp is ideal for emotional trauma counseling because you’re able to message the therapist whenever and schedule appointments easily. Furthermore, financial aid is available, but insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid are not.
How much is trauma therapy at BetterHelp? It ranges from $60 to $90 per week.
To find out why we rate BetterHelp as the best choice, read our detailed BetterHelp review or this full comparison between all therapy sites in the U.S and see why BetterHelp comes out on top.
Talkspace is BetterHelp’s closest rival. They offer similar things, with an equally great app, fast matching with therapists, easy sign-ups, and tons of psychologists to choose from. But, there are two clear advantages here when looking for online trauma counseling. Firstly, insurance is accepted, making it accessible to more people.
Secondly, Talkspace has the capacity for psychiatric evaluations, unlike BetterHelp. Medical prescriptions (albeit limited) are possible, too. This is more useful when counseling for traumatic events, as it offers a wider range of treatments.
Talkspace costs between $65 and $99 per week.
For more information, check our Talkspace Review or our list of the best therapy sites with insurance.
Calmerry is a very new company, having been founded in 2020. Very quickly, the site grew a reputation for being a great place to facilitate virtual therapy for trauma, depression, and anxiety. The platform’s true USP, though, is in its pricing, in which it offers the lowest weekly subscription plan around ($52.99/week).
Calmerry states that it can help tackle PTSD (among many other issues) and that it uses CBT as its methodology, which is proven to be an effective form of therapy.
Calmerry offers multiple plans, meaning there’s a lot of consumer choice. There’s also great support, often being dubbed as having the fastest responses among all its competitors. For more information, read our Calmerry review or this article about affordable online therapy.
Circles is another option for finding a therapist dealing with trauma, but it’s also more than that. Circles focus is on support groups. Group therapy is often seen as being left behind in the virtual world of treatment, but Circles begs to differ by matching users to others users who are going through the same troubles.
Often, the causes of PTSD are commonly experienced by others too, making it viable to speak in safe spaces with peers that are going through the same issues. Circles focuses on matching you with other PTSD sufferers.
There’s good customer service but the pricing is on the expensive side, given you’re not receiving one-to-one therapy.
Circles costs $30 per week. Read our full Circles review or visit their site by clicking the button below.
Sesame Care is an online platform in which users can choose their therapist, making it popular for those who are a part of a marginalized group or looking for a female trauma therapist near me. Not only is it more sensitive to our need for control over who our therapist is, but it offers psychiatrists and medication as well, making it more equipped to tackle PTSD from every angle.
Though, it’s not ideal for those looking for texting counselors specializing in trauma, as only video calls and live sessions are possible. For those looking for more on-demand, natural relationships, this may not be suited.
Sesame Care costs between $45 and $120 per week. Check out our full Sesame Care review.
Online therapy for trauma and PTSD is growing in popularity. The consensus is that there is no ‘cure’ for PTSD, but the symptoms can be managed. Symptoms may start within a month of the traumatic event, but sometimes can be delayed by years. Intrusive memories and avoidance are common immediate symptoms. For example, the person may try to avoid going to places or partaking in activities related to the trauma, like in a car if the trauma was brought on by an accident. They may also have recurrent, intrusive flashbacks, dreams, or memories related to the event.
This inevitably brings on symptoms of anxiety, rage, and potentially depression. But the longer-term impact can be entire shifts in the way we think, feel, and react. Feelings of hopelessness, self-loathing, and detachment from family can occur, as well as being easily frightened, highly guarded, and having trouble concentrating. Anger issues or episodes of self-destructive and aggressive behavior can also occur.
Symptoms can vary in intensity over time. Generally, it is recommended to see a doctor if you have feelings or thoughts about a traumatic event more than once a month, or if you have noticed shifts in your emotions. Paid or free online therapy for PTSD is often recommended right after an accident, but it’s often online therapy for childhood trauma that can get ignored, because of having lived with it for so long.
So, how do therapists treat trauma and what is the most effective treatment for trauma?
There is no perfect, one-size-fix-all treatment for PTSD, which is why online trauma counseling can be an ongoing process of trying new things. But, the evidence shows therapy is effective, and so is PTSD treatment online specifically.
The goal therapy is usually the same: improve your PTSD symptoms and teach you how to better manage them. Different approaches have different ideas and strategies on how to achieve that same goal. Here are 5 types of PTSD therapies. What’s the best therapy for trauma? It’s simply the one that works for you.
CBT is easily the most popular virtual therapy for trauma out there. CBT is a talking therapy in which you notice how your thoughts and associations with the traumatic event, as this can help process how you think about your own trauma. This is particularly useful for tackling those who feel guilt, shame, or anger toward the trauma.
CBT is profoundly effective and popular, making it arguably the best online therapy for PTSD. It is also widely used to treat depression and anxiety, two of the most common symptoms in people dealing with severe trauma.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy is a form of counseling for traumatic events, in which you’re taught breathing techniques as you run through what happened. A list of things you’ve been avoiding is noted, and you learn how to face each one. This allows us to relieve our trauma with a new sense of control.
A new innovation within this space is the introduction of virtual reality, now dubbed Virtual Reality Exposure Theory. For example, veterans walking on a treadmill with a VR headset depicting images relating to their trauma.
PTSD can alter our brains. They can impact our chemical balance, causing us to easily be in fight or flight mode. Medication can be a somewhat brute-force way to alter our brains to offset the effects of PTSD. Whilst medications won’t get to the root of the problem, they can immediately help us stop thinking about what happens, change our emotions, and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. With or without medication, it’s usually not a full replacement for emotional trauma counseling.
EMDR is a neurological therapy as opposed to psychotherapy. It aims to use REM to re-pattern the traumatic memories we have. As you discuss your most troubling memories, a therapist will guide you through some eye movements as you reframe that memory. It sounds eccentric, but studies show it works. However, it may not be the ideal PTSD treatment online, as it’s often done face-to-face.
NET is a unique type of treatment that focuses on creating an account of what happened which helps embrace and capture one’s own self-respect. By focusing on our human rights and self-respect, we can reframe traumatic events, particularly surrounding abuse.
Over the past decade or so, more and more studies are putting telehealth to the test. So far, online therapy for complex PTSD and the like is proving to be effective in its treatments, in similar ways that traditional face-to-face therapy has been.
Many ask “what kind of therapist do I need for trauma?”, but any licensed therapist trained in CBT will be useful. Of course, experience in treating PTSD is ideal, but it doesn’t require separate qualifications. Counselors specializing in trauma certainly exist, which is why using a platform that allows you to choose your own therapist is preferential.
In regards to the online delivery of therapy, it’s shown time and time again that the vehicle of communication does not matter. Therapy is effective at treating PTSD, and so is online therapy to the same degree.
The only caveats here are that online therapy for PTSD is somewhat limited to conversational therapy, like CBT. Fortunately, CBT happens to be the most popular and widely used treatment. But, if you’re searching for alternative therapies, like long exposure therapy through VR, virtual platforms may not offer such fringe treatments.
In summary, anyone who is experiencing anxiety over a memory or event more than once a month should visit a doctor. Nightmares, anxiety, depression, anger, and changes in our emotions and reactions can all be symptoms of PTSD. Whilst PTSD can’t be cured, its symptoms can be managed when treated.
Therapy is almost always recommended, and in 2023, online platforms are cheaper, faster, and more accessible. There is no better example of this than BetterHelp. BetterHelp is a great starting point because it’s the largest site, meaning it’s secure, has many therapists, and even has financial aid programs.
If you’re looking for a psychiatric evaluation, a prescription, or alternative therapy, then there are some other options such as Talkspace or Brightside for example.