Teletherapy offers a safe, secure way for you to work with a licensed, experienced therapist from the comfort of your own home.
Teletherapy services have become increasingly popular throughout the 21st century. Moreover, teletherapy sessions have become a lifesaver during COVID-19 when people might not be able to attend traditional face to face therapy sessions.
What is Teletherapy?
Teletherapy refers broadly to therapy services provided over the phone or Internet. Positive Psychology provides a definition that includes mental health services in addition to speech and occupational health services.
Most often, when we think about teletherapy today, we mean online therapy providing mental health services through video chat.
While phone sessions are still an option, and may be the only choice for clients who don’t have regular internet connections, video therapy offers the opportunity for better connection due to the face to face interaction.
Just think about the difference you experience when you speak to someone on FaceTime or Zoom as compared with just an audio phone call. You’re more present and you get a real sense of the other person through their body language and facial expressions. Teletherapy over video offers those same features.
How Does Teletherapy Work?
While teletherapy isn’t quite the same as in person therapy, it does offer many similarities.
In online therapy, you will work with the same therapist, typically once per week. Together, you will use established techniques and therapeutic tools to cope with immediate problems, resolve relationship challenges, set goals, etc. In other words, you will see your therapist … you’ll just do it online instead of in an office.
A teletherapy session includes:
- Scheduling the appointment in advance, usually at the same time every week
- You and your therapist both log on to the session through a secure portal. Therapists use HIPAA-compliant technology to make sure that your sessions are private.
- You use video and audio communication to conduct your therapy session. The content of the session is the same as if you were in the office.
In the past, people who wanted teletherapy services specifically sought out therapists who offered them. However, these days, most therapists offer online therapy. Therefore, you have the opportunity to work with the therapist of your choice, finding the most effective treatment.
Benefits of Teletherapy
Of course, a teletherapy session naturally has a few differences from regular in person therapy sessions.
Most obviously, teletherapy takes place in your own home (or wherever you access Internet). This saves the time and cost of traveling to an office for therapy sessions. It allows people to continue to receive therapy services even when they can’t leave home.
People with social anxiety, certain disabilities, and those in quarantine for COVID-19 may not be able to leave the house. Teletherapy offers mental health support during a time when they may need it most.
In other words, one of the greatest benefits is that more people can access therapy services when teletherapy is an option. Other teletherapy benefits include lower costs, high satisfaction rates among clients, and overall better public health and safety (particularly during COVID-19).
Moreover, some people find that it offers even more privacy than traditional face to face therapy. After all, you’re never going to run into your boss in your living room whereas there’s always that small chance that you will at a therapy office.
What Type of Therapy is Available as Teletherapy?
Almost all forms of mental health therapy can be done online thanks to updated video conferencing technology.
In particular, research indicates that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an excellent choice for teletherapy. Research also indicates that teletherapy is effective for Exposure and Response Prevention therapy to treat OCD. Teletherapy is available for individuals, couples, families, and groups. Teleplay therapy is available for children.
As with other forms of therapy, teletherapy can help you through a diverse array of challenges including:
- Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues
- Relationship challenges including family, marriage, and work relationships
- Overcoming trauma
- Coping with daily stressors
Do note that some health insurance does not cover teletherapy. Many do, however. Check with your insurance company or your therapist if you have questions about this.
How Effective is Teletherapy?
Most available research indicates that teletherapy is as effective as traditional face to face therapy. In some cases, it can even be more effective than in-person therapy.
Although we think of teletherapy as a “new” thing, therapists have been conducting this form of therapy for nearly two decades. As the technology has improved, and studies have been completed, the services have gotten better and better.
Ultimately, of course, the only way to determine whether or not it’s effective for you is to give it a try. Keep an open mind. Find a therapist that you work well with. As with any form of therapy, it can help you if you give it a chance.