During the pandemic, a lot of people in need of professional mental health support found themselves unable to visit their therapists. Luckily, there is a solution that became popular a couple of decades ago with the advent of video conferencing.
It goes by many names, including telehealth, virtual therapy, or online counseling. But most healthcare professionals refer to it as teletherapy.
The Internet offers many options for teletherapy: a client can connect online with their therapist using a voice chat, text chat, or a video call to conduct a tele session.
Can’t pay a visit to your doctor due to lockdowns? Don’t worry. With teletherapy, you can experience the benefits of regular face-to-face visits with the therapist, in the comfort and safety of your home. And you will only need a gadget, a camera, and a microphone.
Technical requirements for teletherapy
Teletherapy requires the use of modern technology. You should have a reliable broadband connection, a video camera with high enough resolution, and a sensitive microphone.
Getting a little privacy before starting a session is also necessary. Close the door to your room or ask your family members to not disturb you during the call with your therapist.
Most smartphones from recent years are capable enough to perform the task. If you find using a computer more suitable, any budget video conferencing or game streaming setup will do.
Does teletherapy work for everybody?
According to the opinions of many mental well-being experts and medical studies, most adults and some children can benefit from teletherapy in the same way as from in-person counseling.
Of course, there are also individual differences that need to be accounted for. Teletherapy has limited use for some categories of clients, as well:
- Neglected or abused children can’t experience the full benefits of teletherapy since their abusers are usually present with them in the home environment. Teletherapy could work as a secondary option for them in a school or youth counseling setting or some other places where they might feel safe.
- People with ADHD and people who experience attention problems often find it impossible to focus during a video conference and require a caregiver present next to them for the session to be effective.
- Children and teenagers are often not comfortable with online therapy, feeling their privacy being invaded by video calls from the therapist.
- People who need immediate help, are in crisis, or who have suicidal ideation. Please, reach out to your local emergency hotlines.
- People who need more intense health care and attention.
Advantages of teletherapy over in-person sessions
The convenience and flexibility of teletherapy allow receiving mental health services anywhere, anytime, from multiple therapists. On the other hand, the availability of in-person sessions is often limited by your therapist’s busy schedule.
Driving to an appointment can waste a lot of your time. Also, you have to factor in other time constraints, like having an appointment scheduled during your work time, which leads to you losing hours of pay. Teletherapy doesn’t have these issues.
Visiting a therapist’s office has a societal stigma attached to it
Many people don’t take proper care of their well-being due to the fear of being labeled “crazy” by others around them. Teletherapy offers complete privacy in the safe, familiar environment of your home.
You don’t have to disclose the fact that you receive therapy to others. There is also zero chance of running into somebody you know which can happen while entering or leaving a therapist’s office.
Teletherapy is accessible to anyone with an Internet connection, and most places have it
In many areas, including small towns or remote villages, quality treatment is almost impossible to find. People who can’t leave their homes due to a physical disability or ongoing illness, often have to rely on teletherapy as their only option.
H3: Teletherapy is usually less expensive
It also reduces related costs, such as having to pay for traveling to a therapist’s office or hiring a babysitter to look after your children.
What are the limitations of teletherapy?
Since teletherapy relies on technology to work, it carries all the risks and difficulties associated with using it. Many people, including the elderly, have a hard time using a smartphone or a computer.
Your device may lack the necessary software or be unable to download and run it due to the lack of capability. Sometimes, you might not have any access to an Internet connection or phone service.
Screen-based communication, especially when using smartphones, reduces our ability to make eye contact and follow body language.
There are risks associated with software privacy and security. Make sure that your software is certified to prevent data leaks.
Also, teletherapy limits the therapist’s ability to respond to emergencies like nervous breakdowns or suicide attempts.