Teletherapy and its Advantages
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What is teletherapy?
As technology seems to be ever-changing, and more services than ever are moving to mobile apps and web portals, it comes as no surprise that our health care is also moving in that direction. Terms such as telehealth or online counseling have exploded in the last few years, with plenty of advertising and research being dedicated to this new field. But what is telehealth, really, and is it worth it?
Within the mental health field, the terms teletherapy, telepsychology, telecounseling, and online counseling are often used interchangeably. Any therapy delivered remotely through technology is commonly referred to as teletherapy. This may include phone-based therapy with a private practitioner, web-based video chats, virtual support groups, or online counseling platforms such as MyCocun, BetterHelp, or Talkspace. Any time you’re interacting with a therapist or counselor using a website, phone, or mobile app, you are likely taking part in teletherapy services.
Why you should consider teletherapy
Many people find that speaking over the phone encourages deeper listening and keeps them present and in-the-moment.
Other benefits to teletherapy include:
Having consistent and meaningful contact with your therapist lays the foundation for growth and trust in the therapy relationship. However, life often presents barriers that can make it difficult to get to an office. Teletherapy offers increased access to those with
physical or medical limitations
work, family, and other time constraints
mental health symptoms that limit ability to engage in more traditional therapy settings
Comfort and Convenience
It can also be reassuring to know that you have an alternate way to enter into therapy, particularly if the idea is still uncomfortable to you. Many people find that speaking over the phone encourages deeper listening, and keeps them present and “in-the-moment”. Being able to send messages without a scheduled appointment also lets you reflect on what you want to say, or share something as it comes to mind.
With teletherapy you have greater control over your environment. Your privacy and comfort are enhanced by choosing your own space. Teletherapy offers greater flexibility in scheduling, and lets people break out of the one hour, once a week formula. Being able to remotely access your therapist makes therapy convenient for you.
Teletherapy is usually quite affordable when compared to weekly co-pays or private-pay fees. Additionally, with the growth of the field, many insurance providers are beginning to cover teletherapy just as they would an in-person therapist or counselor. Check with your own health insurance provider to learn about their policies on telehealth.
Perhaps best of all, research shows that teletherapy can be just as effective as meeting in person - sometimes moreso! Recent research shows that teletherapy is particularly helpful for those managing depression and anxiety, and those with medical limitations such as Multiple Sclerosis. Across multiple studies, evidence shows that those who are engaged in some version of online or teletherapy have better outcomes and less symptoms several months after initial treatment.
But is this right for me?
Teletherapy may not be right for everyone, and not all teletherapy is created equal. Remember that teletherapy comes in many shapes and sizes, from phone conversations to live stream video. Those who have difficulty with technology, vision, or hearing may not benefit from everything teletherapy has to offer. Some people may also find that they prefer video-chats to text messages so that they still have a visual connection with their therapist. It is important to speak with a counselor who is trained in using teletherapy to help determine if it is right for you.
If you are interested in reading more about the effectiveness of teletherapy and its use for different mental health concerns, check out some of the studies below:
Depression, anxiety and stress