How Does Phone Counseling Work?

Do you find that your busy schedule does not allow time for you to make it to a traditional therapy session? No time to leave work, your college campus, or the kids with a sitter to drive to an appointment, wait in the waiting room, do an hour of therapy and then drive back? Does the idea of face-to-face therapy make you feel a little nervous? Do you have a private place where you can process things out loud with a professional over the phone? If so, then phone counseling could be the right fit for you!

I typically schedule phone counseling sessions in 30 or 60 minute increments to best meet your schedule needs. You can choose the best location for you – your home, dorm room, office, or even your car!

While we do not see each other face-to-face, phone counseling does allow for us to hear tone of voice, inflection, and emotion. Just as we would in traditional counseling, we will do a needs assessment, set goals for counseling together, and then work through strategies and homework via phone to help you meet these goals.

Do you have additional questions about phone-based counseling? Do you think it could be a good fit for you? Feel free to reach out to me via my website at:

Talk soon, Wendy

How Does Email Counseling Work?

I receive a lot of questions about email counseling and how exactly therapy occurs via this medium works. I created a quick video to answer your questions here:

Email counseling has become the most popular medium for therapy that I offer with 75% of my clients utilizing email counseling by itself or in combination with video and phone sessions.

Are email message secure and safe? As a licensed clinician, it is essential that I do everything that I can to protect your confidential information in email sessions as well as your personal health information. In order to accomplish this, I utilize an encrypted web based portal which has been tested and endorsed by several reputable telemental health research organizations due to its security and encryption benefits. These email messages are password protected within the portal on both client and counselor end.

Via these email messages, I am able to conduct a needs assessment, establish goals, and share ideas, strategies and homework with you. Email counseling is self-paced. You can take as little or as long as you need to process through information, complete homework assignments, and share feedback. Each of these email exchanges serves as a mini counseling session. They tend to be very conversational and educational. My clients often comment about how much they enjoy taking their time to process through my questions and then think through their responses. There is no rush or face-to-face pressure. Instead, you can take as long as you need. Clients also enjoy the fact that the emails are tangible and present for them to review in the future. The information that we exchange is yours to keep!

Email counseling is also convenient. You are able to write to me whenever it is convenient for your schedule. Perhaps you have time in the early morning, over your lunch break, or late at night. I guarantee to respond to your messages within 24 hours Monday through Friday.

How long does email counseling take? Through my research and data collection over the last 2.5 years, most email clients participate in services for 64 days before they have worked through their present challenges and feel ready to tackle things independently. However, this can vary widely depending upon client preference and needs. Some clients wrap up things efficiently in one week while others maintain a monthly email plan for years in order to have regular feedback and support.

I offer weekly and monthly packages to meet your needs. Both packages allow for unlimited email messages. This means that you can send as many emails as you want during that week or month, and I guarantee to respond to each message within 24 hours Monday – Friday. Many individuals like to start with one week of email service as it allows them to try out the email program to see if it is a good fit for them without any long term commitment or cost. Then, they often transition over to a monthly package as we dig deeper into the topics that brought them to counseling.

Are you interested in learning more about email counseling? Have additional questions? Feel free to reach out to me at my website: , and I will respond with additional information, answer any questions, etc. I would love to get to know you better!

Talk soon, Wendy

How long does online therapy take?

A common question that I receive is “How long does online counseling take?”  In the past 2 years, I have worked with almost 300 clients via email, phone, and video-based counseling.  On average, my clients work with me for 61 days.  This number varies by client as some can quickly work through their challenges in one week of email therapy.  Others prefer weekly or every other week phone or video sessions to slowly work through their concerns over several weeks or months.  Meanwhile, other clients prefer a combination of email counseling with phone and video sessions periodically.  Some clients work with me for one session and others have been with me for the last two years.  Online counseling is truly customizable to meet your unique needs.  To find out more about my clients’ experiences with online counseling, you can read their feedback on my website:


Is Online Counseling Secure?

Privacy and security are very valid concerns in regard to online counseling and must be taken into consideration with the utmost seriousness.  To ensure that I am up-to-date on technology security, ethics in online counseling, and how to handle these challenges, I have participated in 15 credit hours of continuing education in these areas.  In addition, I passed 2 credentialing exams to obtain my Distance Credentialed Counseling license.  As a licensed clinician, it is essential that I do everything that I can to protect your confidential information in sessions as well as your personal health information (PHI) from a HIPAA standpoint.  In order to accomplish this, I only utilize services that will sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) contract to ensure that all entities who transmit information maintain PHI security and overall HIPAA compliance.  

For my email-based counseling services, I utilize an encrypted web based portal which has been endorsed by several reputable telemental health research organizations due to its compliance with HIPAA and secure encryption of messages. In addition, your messages will require an extra password to open in order to add an additional level of security and privacy in case your phone is stolen or someone tries to read our confidential messages.  

What steps can you take to protect your privacy in online counseling?  It is important to consider your environment for our phone or video sessions.  I recommend that you select a private environment where you are completely alone during our sessions to ensure that your video or call is not overheard.  I take the same precautions on my end as well to protect your privacy.  I also recommend that clients keep their devices safe, password protect their phone and devices, and decline email receipts for our sessions.  

Do you have additional questions about the security and privacy of online counseling?  If so, contact me via my website at:

For more information and considerations:

Talk soon, Wendy


Is Online Counseling Effective?

In regard to effectiveness, there is a growing body of clinical research that supports the helpfulness of online counseling in comparison to traditional face-to-face counseling.  Research is showing that this medium can be especially helpful for clients who would like help with:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Parenting
  • Relationships
  • Self esteem
  • Vision and career planning
  • Etc.

I will share links below to several research studies that support the effectiveness of online counseling if you would like to learn more!

In addition to this growing body of research, I also measure effectiveness through my wonderful clients and their success stories.  Nothing makes me happier than to watch my almost 300 clients who have reached and surpassed their counseling goals through this counseling medium in the last few years. To see their thoughts about online counseling, please check out their reviews here:

Talk soon, Wendy

Hilty, D. (2013). The Effectiveness of Telemental Health: A 2013 Review. Telemedicine Journal, 19(6), 444-454.

Andersson, G., & Cuijpers, P. (2009). Internet-based and other computerized psychological treatments for adult depression: A meta-analysis. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 38(4), 196-205.

Barak, Azy, et al. (2008). A comprehensive review and a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of internet-based psychotherapeutic interventions. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 26.2-4: 109-160.

Wantland, D. J., Portillo, C. J., Holzemer, W. L., Slaughter, R., & McGhee, E. M. (2004). The effectiveness of Web-based vs. non-Web-based interventions: a meta-analysis of behavioral change outcomes. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 6(4).


Why Would Anyone Need Online Counseling?

Why would anyone need online counseling?  I asked myself the same thing in early 2016….

At that time, I had a coworker who was struggling with a long-distance relationship, and she came to me for advice about how to determine if they should continue onward toward an engagement or break up.  I suggested counseling for them, but they were unable to meet with a professional in a face-to-face setting due to the multi-state distance between them and the irregularity of their time together.  As a social worker, I am a problem solver by training, so I was certain that there must be a solution to this quandary.  After much research, I discovered the budding world of online and telemental health counseling.  However, I was doubtful and hesitant.  Is online counseling ethical?  Legal?  Research-based? Effective?

While online counseling would solve the issue of counseling for this couple who lived hours apart, how could I recommend it with certainty and confidence?  The only solution was to trial online counseling within my own practice.  I sampled online counseling via a secure and encrypted email platform with a few interested clients.  As busy professionals, they were intrigued by the idea of being able to send me emails whenever something was on their mind and then know that I would respond with feedback, suggestions, and strategies within 24 hours.  A steady rhythm of emails and exchanges began over the next few weeks.  As I checked in with these clients, they noted enthusiastically that online counseling was more convenient (ie. no need to make an appointment, wait weeks for their next session, or to give up 1.5-2 hours of their time to travel and sit through a traditional session) and they felt as if they were making the same amount if not more progress through the online platform.  

So not only was this experiment successful and I was able to recommend online counseling to my co-worker and her significant other, but an exciting and new practice was born for me out of this experience!

Do you have any questions about online counseling?  Do you wonder if it could be a good fit for your counseling needs?  If so, I would love to do a free consultation with you.  Feel free to reach out to me via my website at:

Talk soon, Wendy

Welcome to Thrive for Life Counseling!

Hello & Welcome to Thrive for Life Counseling!

I am Wendy – a licensed clinical social worker who loves people and helping them to achieve their best lives!  After 15+ years of clinical practice, I have shifted my focus in recent years to a more online approach – phone, video, and email counseling.  With the changing nature of our world due to technology, this has been a natural transition that has been amazingly helpful in reaching more people and allowing them to thrive despite distance, busy lives, and hectic schedules.  

As a counseling professional, I have seen the amazingly beneficial impact that counseling can have for people.  However, I have also seen the resistance to counseling that can occur due to the stigma around mental health services.  My goal with this website and blog is to dispel these myths, make mental health resources and information attainable, and to help more people access the services that we all need from time to time.  

Through this blog, I will share reviews of my favorite self-help and mental health books, action steps that you can take to combat common struggles from depression and anxiety to parenting and marriage, while also answering questions about the world of online counseling.  Have a question or idea?  Drop me a note here:

Remember – Do not just live – THRIVE!

Talk soon, Wendy