Prior to the pandemic, teletherapy was something that was available but not being utilized to the extent it is now. The rise of COVID-19 compelled us all to explore virtual access to meet a number of our needs. Now, many more individuals have had first-hand experience of the benefits and efficacy of teletherapy. In fact, many now prefer it. Below we will explore the pros and cons of teletherapy as well as discussing what to expect in order to help you decide if it is right for you.
Does it work? A very reasonable and common question is whether or not Teletherapy video sessions are as effective as in-person therapy options. According to the American Psychological Association research on teletherapy has been ongoing since 1960. Findings show that video teletherapy is as effective as in-person sessions in treating a wide variety of psychological disorders such as Anxiety, Depression, PTSD and Adjustment Disorders to name a few. Though research is ongoing, it is safe to say that psychologists agree in teletherapy being an effective form of psychotherapy treatment.
Who doesn’t love a convenient option? Many people struggle with finding time to schedule sessions due to busy work days or school conflicts. Teletherapy increases access to many by eliminating commute times. Many people are able to find an hour in their schedule to make time for a session while avoiding the time commitment of travel time.
Limited therapy access in your area? Rural areas sometimes have limited access to therapy services and are forced to undergo long travel times to find accommodations for themselves or their children. This can interfere with work and school responsibilities making the therapy process unnecessarily stressful. Unforeseeable instances of inclement weather or minor sickness can sometimes create barriers for therapy attendance. Teletherapy can provide a solution to these issues through creating access.
Feeling anxious about your first session? While this is completely normal, feeling anxious about your first therapy session can sometimes be enough to cause people to forgo treatment altogether. Being able to curl up on your couch, with your dog and still have a session with a professional can make the process seem less daunting for some. As long as you are able to secure a private location in your home or office for an hour you are able to have a confidential and comfortable teletherapy session.
You are responsible for creating your own therapeutic environment. Sometimes people are distracted during a session by their dog barking in the background, children coming into their room to ask a question, the load of unfolded laundry in the corner, etc. It can be tempting to multitask during sessions and this can unfortunately interfere with therapeutic connection and/or progress. These distractions can usually be problem solved however, for some, this a deal breaker no longer making teletherapy the right choice.
Difficulty finding a private location
Similar to the issue described above, some feel anxious about having a private location to talk with their therapist virtually. Therapists are legally and ethically bound to comply with HIPAA privacy guidelines, which ensures they are the only party present in their location during your sessions. However, sometimes adults and teens feel as though they are unable to ensure their own private location away from listening ears.
One of the expected downfalls of internet communication is that there is always a chance of poor connection or even lost connection all together. This can definitely make it difficult to build rapport or work through therapeutic content when it occurs. Even if your telehealth therapist has a plan in place in case you do get disconnected, such as continuing over the phone or troubleshooting the issue, it can still be a frustrating barrier to treatment if it occurs consistently. Having a strong internet connection in general is a necessity to be able to participate in teletherapy services and should be considered.
May not be appropriate for all presenting issues
A very important item to note is that teletherapy is not appropriate for everyone who is seeking teletherapy services. Some psychiatric illnesses may be too severe or require more thorough monitoring making teletherapy insufficient to meet their needs. This is something that a teletherapist should be able to assess at the initial session in order to determine whether they can continue to see you based on presenting issues. At this point your teletherapist will be able to refer you to someone more appropriate to meet your needs.
What to expect in your first session?
The first step is to reach out to a therapist you’ve identified who offers teletherapy to set up an initial intake appointment.
In that first appointment your therapist will review confidentiality, potential barriers to teletherapy treatment and how to troubleshoot connection issues. The therapist will then begin getting to know you and gathering presenting issues, background information and what you may be looking for from treatment. This will ensure you and the therapist are a good fit.
Follow up appointments will be scheduled at the end of sessions and payment will most likely be collected at the end of the appointment. In some cases, a clinic manager may have already asked to place a card on file for you to aid in the convenience of payment.
If you are interested in beginning teletherapy services Brentwood Counseling Associates would love to assist you. We have a number of therapists offering both in person and teletherapy options. Whether you are seeking services for yourself or for your child it’s likely we have someone who can help. For more information or to schedule your first session please give us a call at 615-377-1153 to talk to our office manager, Jane Jenkins. Jane has been with the practice for more than 20 years and is great at helping you think through your needs and choose an appropriate therapist.