How Online Grief Counseling Works: Cost, Services + Tips

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Although experiencing grief is an inevitable part of life, coping with the death of a loved one or other significant and unexpected loss can be challenging. Grief can describe the emotional, physical, and psychological distress a person may feel after experiencing a profound loss.

Examples may include the loss of a loved one or a significant financial setback. Both of these types of losses can stir up complicated feelings and emotions that may make it difficult to move forward. 

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When given time to process, most people learn to accept what's happened and learn how to cope with their pain and suffering. However, others may find it challenging to recover from their grief. As a result, they can struggle with bouncing back after a crisis.

Grief counseling helps bereaved people explore past pain and trauma to help them move forward from their present circumstances. Online grief counseling is a more modern psychotherapy approach with many of the same benefits as in-person counseling sessions. 

What’s Online Grief Counseling?

Online therapy or counseling services make it easier and more convenient for bereaved people to get the help they need through online services instead of in-person care and treatment. 

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines grief counseling as the "provision of advice, information, and psychological support" that offers help to those affected by grief. 

A significant part of online grief counseling includes exploring and working through the five stages of grief introduced by Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 publication, On Death and Dying. These stages include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

It's important to understand that there's no wrong way to grieve. Not everyone that is bereaved will experience these stages of grief. Some people may go through them in the exact order presented by Dr. Kübler-Ross.

In contrast, others may share some but not other stages of grief. The grief experience is different for every person. Some people may begin their healing journey with the last stage and move backward from there.  

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What Happens During an Online Grief Counseling Session?

Taking the first step to seek out online grief counseling may seem intimidating at first. With all of the providers available to choose from, their varying rates, and different levels of expertise, it's no wonder many people hold off on deciding to get help. But when you're faced with profound grief, getting help is almost always non-negotiable. 

During your first online session, you can expect your therapist to go over the five stages of grief, explain what you can expect as you go through your grief journey, and may even recommend some online grief support groups for you.

A skilled therapist will always ask you about your loss and how it's affecting your life presently. They'll explore your emotional grief responses and get you in touch with your feelings related to your suffering. After the first session, you'll have a clearer understanding of the direction your counseling will go. 

Online therapy sessions can be as practical as in-person meetings. You can expect to show your raw emotions as you proceed through your treatment. Be prepared to tell your story of loss and how you feel as a result thereof. Your counselor will know that the retelling of the events surrounding your loss is crucial and necessary to your healing.

Try not to censor yourself as you go through this challenging stage of the grief process. Your grief counselor has received training to guide you through every painful feeling and emotion that may surface as a part of your loss journey.

How Much Does Online Grief Counseling Typically Cost?

There are many online grief counseling providers to choose from. Some individuals and companies found online offer grief counseling by the hour or priced as a monthly package, while others provide free grief counseling to anyone in need.

An average online grief therapy session typically lasts between 45 to 60 minutes and costs an average of between $60 to $120. Some therapists charge fees as much as $250 per hour.

Prices are usually based on the therapist's skill, level of experience, and years in practice. The costs associated with online therapy versus local, in-person therapy are generally lower. Some online therapists offer rates as low as $20 to $50 per 45-minute session.

How Do You Pay for Online Grief Counseling?

What can you do when you don't have insurance to cover the costs of obtaining the care and counseling you need? 

Paying for online grief counseling is one reason why some people forgo getting the care they need and deserve. For many people, even the basic cost of grief counseling can seem out of reach. Most insurance companies can have definite and limited mental health treatment benefits, especially when seeking grief counseling specifically.

While most large companies—in particular those with over 50 employees—must comply with certain Affordable Healthcare Act sections that require them to pay for particular mental health treatments, not all of them do.

As is the case with most rules, there are always loopholes and workarounds to the regulations requiring companies to provide mental health care treatment to their employees.

If your company doesn't offer this type of health care coverage, you still have other options. The following list will give you some ideas of how you can access grief therapy and mental health support services.

  • Check with your insurance
  • Seek out student training services or clinics
  • Visit your local mental health clinic
  • Ask for a discount
  • Reevaluate your expenses

Popular Online Grief Counseling Services

There are plenty of online grief counseling services offered at varying degrees and costs. Knowing which website and therapist are best for you comes down to research and your preferred communication method with your therapist.

If you find it challenging to open up to a stranger online, consider a therapist who'll agree to treat you over text messaging, online chat, or email. 

If you're comfortable with face-to-face communication, you may benefit more from zoom meetings or live chats through their website portal, or another video messaging service. 

The following websites were selected based on independent research and by reading online reviews of their services. 

BetterHelp

Betterhelp.com offers private and affordable online grief counseling services. Getting started with the help you need is an easy process when using this website.

Immediately upon entering their site, a pop-up will ask you to answer specific questions about yourself and some of the mental health issues you're experiencing. Your responses will guide you to the right type of counselor to match your needs.

BetterHelp has plans as low as $40 a week, and they even include an option for you to apply for financial aid if you can't afford their services. They have an internal method of matching you with one of their qualified and licensed grief counselors based on the initial information provided.

If you're unhappy or dissatisfied with your grief counselor, you can switch to a different one at any time. They offer counseling sessions through text messaging, telephone calls, or video chat.

Psychology Today

Psychologytoday.com allows you to search for an online grief counselor based on your specific location, where you'll have the option to meet with them in person or online.

Their fees range depending on the grief counselor selected. Their website allows you to choose the fee range that you're most comfortable with, and they even provide a sliding scale option for those who aren't able to afford the full cost of treatment. 

This website gives you access to many different grief therapists, grief counselors, and other grief support types of services. They can help you with your grief journey, learning about the various stages of grief, and how to cope with the pain and suffering related to your loss.

Their list of professionals includes therapists, psychologists, psychotherapists, and counselors, all trained and skilled in providing grief-related treatment.

GoodTherapy

GoodTherapy.org helps you find a grief counselor or therapist using a directory that's specifically designed to get you connected with the help you need. You can search their directory by the therapist's location, specialization, gender, and age group that they treat.

If you opt for searching by area, the system will direct you to a therapist near you. The grief professional's full credentials, location, and specialty then pop up for your review.

You will always have the option for selecting online grief counseling services without needing to attend in-person sessions. Additionally, all of the therapists and counselors offering services through GoodTherapy have graduate-level education.

They must also have a professional license or live in an area that doesn't require licensure for the grief counseling or therapy services provided. 

Talkspace.com

Talkspace.com touts itself as the number one leading provider of online grief therapy services based on their independent research and client reviews found online. Through their internal study of talk-space members, they’ve found that most of their clients seeking treatment prefer online therapy over traditional in-person counseling sessions. 

Talk therapy has found that many of their clients showed an overall improvement in their mental health only after a few weeks of receiving treatment. Their services offer a convenient way to obtain grief counseling or grief therapy anywhere and anytime online and on your mobile device.

They provide access to thousands of licensed and experienced grief counselors and therapists for you to select from. They claim that their costs for services are generally 80 percent less than the price of in-person therapy sessions while also providing several payment options.

Getting the Grief Counseling You Need

The cost of care alone shouldn't be the reason that keeps you from getting the care and treatment that you need after suffering a significant loss in life. There are many free or low-cost resources that you can find online to help you get through the most challenging periods of your grief journey.

Remember that not every grief counselor is the same, and the cost of their services does not necessarily define the quality of care you'll receive. There are plenty of free to low-cost grief counselors available who provide quality mental health care to the bereaved.

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