iCounseling is an online therapy provider that puts customer experience above all. This site offers similar features to many of the other leading therapy sites, and of course connects users with professional therapists, but what really sets them apart from the rest of the pack is how user friendly their platform is. One of the main draws of online therapy is convenience, but this brand takes it to an extreme.
Founded only in 2017, iCounseling is likely one of the fastest growing therapy services in the short history of this industry. While their marketing efforts have certainly contributed to their early success, there seems to be more behind their popularity. Let’s dive in to learn more.
Getting started with an iCounseling account was surprisingly quick and simple – both from a user experience and time standpoint. The iCounseling website starts off by asking you your gender, along with several other questions (such as your age, if you’ve ever been in therapy before, if you’ve ever been diagnosed with a chronic health condition, how you rate your current level of social connection, how you rate your current financial situation, if you’ve dropped many of your interests and activities, in addition to about a dozen other questions). Once you’ve completed this initial questionnaire, you will need to create an account which takes less than 30 seconds. Simply put in your first name (or a nickname – you can stay anonymous if you’d like), your email address and a password.
iCounseling – Creating an Account
Thereafter, you are led to an encrypted (SSL) payment page. Simply enter your payment details and then the good begins.
iCounseling’s algorithm then pairs you with a therapist based on your answers to the questionnaire. You will be directed to your own personal chat room (also secured by SSL encryption) where an into message from your counselor awaits. It’s important to note that only you and your counselor have access to this online chat room. No one else, not even the iCounseling staff, can see your messages. This room can be accessed anytime – 24/7. As a side note, you are able to request a change if you feel like you do not connect well with your therapist (or for any other reason).
The iCounseling Matching Process
Unlike other major therapy services, I found iCounseling’s pricing a bit ‘too much’ for me. If you pay on an annual basis, it comes out to $35 per week. However, you are billed one time for a total cost of $1,820. Even though therapy is an ongoing undertaking, most people do not want to sign up for such an extended period of time (whether or not that’s the right mindset is another story). That said, iCounseling does offer three other payment options, which are as follows:
- $80/week – billed weekly
- $65/week – billed monthly (billed one time for $260/month)
- $45/week – billed quarterly (billed one time for $540/month)
Usability (Desktop & Mobile):
I’m not sure if I can stress enough just how intuitive the iCounseling platform is. The famous Geico slogan “it’s so easy a caveman can do it” comes to mind. How easy is it? Simply log in to your account and you are automatically directed to your designated chat room. It’s designed the same way as the text messaging app on your smartphone. Your therapists chat box shows above while you can type below. Moreover, the mobile app is just as user friendly. Open the app and start typing. Really – that’s all there is to it. More importantly, within the chat box, you can schedule real time appointments with your therapist. It’s convenient and all in one place.
The iCounseling Secured Chat Room
Counselor Support & Effectiveness:
I would like to point out that most *chat* messages are not in real time. You will need to wait anywhere between a few minutes and a few hours for a reply from your therapist. However, you can always schedule a time for a phone call or video conferencing session. Some people knock this and say that this automatically reduces the effectiveness, however I found that the counselors on the iCounseling platform make a great effort to reply as quickly and professionally as possible. Furthermore, as is the case with other online therapy services, I actually prefer this method of counseling. The stigma is gone. The therapy sessions are unlimited. And of course, in today’s fast paced world, the convenience is second to none. Of course, people will have different experiences but my personal experience was far better than my in-office therapy sessions…and it wasn’t even close.
Confidentiality & Privacy:
Unfortunately, iCounseling doesn’t make much mention of their security and privacy protocols on their website. However, I was able to learn that iCounseling uses 256-bit SLL secured encryption on your chat room and an additional 128-bit SSL encryption throughout the website. In layman’s terms: that’s as good as any banking institution.
iCounseling’s Counselor Qualifications:
As you’d expect, iCounseling employs professionals only. This includes accredited psychologists, marriage therapists, clinical social workers and licensed counselors (PhDs, LMFTs, LCSWs and LPCs). They all have at least two thousand hours of hands on experience under their belts and a minimum of three years of working experience. Additionally, they all hold either a Doctorate or Masters Degree in their fields of work.
Specialties & Areas of Expertise:
Let’s keep in mind that iCounseling isn’t (yet) on the same scale as some of the other major therapy providers on the market. Furthermore, they are looking to focus on specific mental health issues only. The goal is to cater more in-depth than a ‘one stop shop’ online therapy service. As such, mental health categories in which they offer support for includes:
- Eating Disorders
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
For an up and coming company, this shouldn’t be brushed aside. The fact that they had the wherewithal to make their service more intimate is quite an accomplishment, and is a testament to how much they are invested in their customers well-being.
The fact that iCounseling has been able to develop an effective, user-friendly platform for online counseling, and successfully built up a following of thousands of paying customers as quickly as it has, is truly remarkable. This shouldn’t be understated. The larger companies have hundreds of employees, millions of dollars in investment and public companies behind them. And yet, here is iCounseling that is giving these other counseling platforms a run for their money. This is directly because of their simplicity, usability, intimate counselor support and of course pricing. I expect to see iCounseling establish itself as one the top brands within the coming years.