Morgan Rakay, MA, LPC, BC-DMT
Advantages of teletherapy: going beyond the pandemic
Technology is ever-changing. More services are being moved to mobile apps and web portals, and it’s no surprise that our health care is also. Terms such as telehealth or online counseling have exploded in the last few years. With a global pandemic and serious changes in the functions of our every day lives, most therapists were thrown into teletherapy unprepared and have been learning right along with their clients. Here is a break down of some of the "need to know" when considering your personal reasons for telehealth.
What is Teletherapy?
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 includes phone-based therapy with a private practitioner, video chats, or online counseling platforms such as Betterhelp, MyCocun, or TalkSpace. Anytime you’re interacting with a therapist or counselor through a website, phone, or mobile app, you are likely taking part in teletherapy.
Advantages of Teletherapy
Accessibility Life often presents barriers that can make it difficult to get to an office. Having consistent and meaningful contact with your therapist lays the foundation for growth and trust in the therapy relationship.
Teletherapy offers increased access to those with:
- physical or medical limitations
- transportation concerns
- work, family, and other time constraints
- symptoms that limit ability to engage in more traditional therapy settings
Comfort and Convenience It’s reassuring to know that you have another way to enter into therapy, especially if the idea is still uncomfortable! Many people find that speaking over the phone encourages deeper listening, and helps to keep them in-the-moment. The ability to send messages without a scheduled appointment ables you to reflect on what you want to say or share something as it comes to mind.
Teletherapy allows for greater control over your environment. Privacy and comfort enhance the ability to choose your own space. Another benefit is greater flexibility in scheduling. It doesn’t have to the one hour, once a week formula. Accessing your therapist remotely makes therapy convenient, for you! Affordability The next benefit to teletherapy is that it’s quite affordable compared to co-pays or private-pay fees. Many insurance providers are beginning to cover teletherapy because of rapid growth. Check with your health insurance provider to learn about what their policies are on telehealth.
Evidence Finally, and perhaps best of all, research shows that teletherapy can be just as effective as meeting in person. And sometimes even more-so! Teletherapy is particularly helpful for those managing depression and anxiety. In addition to those with medical limitations such as Multiple Sclerosis. Across multiple studies, evidence shows that those in some version of teletherapy have better outcomes and less symptoms several months after the start of treatment.
But is this right for me? Teletherapy may not be right for everyone and not all teletherapy is equal. Remember, teletherapy comes in many shapes and sizes. Telehealth can vary 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 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’s right for you.
Interested in reading more about the effectiveness of teletherapy and its different uses?
Check out some of the studies below:
Internet- and computer-based treatments for adult depression
Depression, anxiety and stress