Teletherapy is providing therapy through a live video connection, over the internet. You receive the same treatment as you would in person, it's just done through a computer! If you have ever used FaceTime, Skype or other video messaging, it is similar.
1. Low Barrier to Entry: One of the biggest challenges facing prospective therapy clients is that initial appointment. Theories abound—the experience was awful, there was not a fit with the therapist, or the most self-satisfied of them all- the therapist was so highly effective that they managed to “cure” their client in one majestic session (likely not the case).
How does telehealth fit in? An easy way to describe it is this—all those things you hate about your dentist waiting room? They apply in therapy as well. Finding the office, sitting, anxiously counting down the time, waiting for your name to be called. With teletherapy, it’s almost always in the comfort of your own home. You can have your cozy blanket, your special mug, all the things that make you feel at ease. What better start to therapy and opening up than in your safe space?
2. Privacy: While this can certainly vary depending on geographical location and the diversity of clients seen by a therapist, teletherapy ensures maximal privacy every time. As one who specializes in teens to adults, I have found more than once that my clients (even going to different schools and residing in different cities) manage to know one another. I have walked in (and out of my office) on more than one occasion witnessing awkward small talk between these clients who knew each other in kindergarten or who are mortal enemies. With social media anymore, everyone is connected. While I have often managed to help them find the silver lining of running into acquaintances (we all have issues, therapy is normalized), teletherapy removes this concern altogether.
3. Efficiency: Time is perhaps our most precious resource. As such, commutes can be frustrating and stressful for those already prone to anxiety. Unexpected traffic closures often lead us to race in, anxious about being late or missing any part of their therapy time. In one scenario I had a patient get into a car accident on the way over to see me. Needless to say, our conversation that session wound up focusing on something entirely different than what we had intended. With enough on their brimming plates, the last thing you need to worry about is one more place to be. And for that matter, one extra cost if parking tickets or accidents are involved.
4. Flexibility: Relatedly, teletherapy allows for maximal flexibility for overworked and overcommitted individuals.
5. Safety: Across much of the nation, severe winter weather can put a kink in plans. In Such concerns are eliminated in teletherapy. Further, there is no expectation that people leave their homes in dangerous weather, there are no late cancellation fees, or consideration of what school districts are opened or closed. With teletherapy, the show can go on, each time.
6. Illness: It is not uncommon for individuals with heavy workloads and many pressures to repeatedly succumb to illnesses. The ability for people to continue working with their therapist, especially when ill, can be highly impactful. Teletherapy makes it safe for both clients and therapists.
7. Patient Timeliness Improved: When sessions begin at the click of a button, timeliness is certainly improved. Without the concern of a traffic jam, getting lost on their way to the office, or running low on gas, it is a no-brainer that timeliness is significantly improved when clients are always in reach of their devices.
8. Communications Improved: Removing the middleman so to speak eases communication significantly and improves the overall therapeutic experience.
9. Access for Remote Patients: Distance is not a factor for teletherapy. You can access your session from anywhere on your electronic devices.
10. Access for College Students: The fact that college counseling centers are more and more swamped is hardly news to those who have worked in such settings. Further, not all colleges are in towns with access to private providers, nor do all college students even have cars. Enter the beauty of access to a wide network of providers without any transportation hassles.
11. Access for Disabled Populations: In many scenarios, those who are bedridden, have chronic illness or otherwise can be major beneficiaries of online treatment options. There are times when people suffering from IBS, Crohn’s or other diseases may experience shame or embarrassment at their need for leaving to use facilities. In an online context, some of these concerns can be diminished significantly. Further, wheelchair accessibility can be a significant barrier with populations as well. While ideally, more locations will be ADA-accessible, the unfortunate reality is that in older locations, historic buildings, and so forth, making these changes can take time and in other cases be impossible.
12. Wait Times Reduced: Finally, perhaps obvious but well worth stating is the benefit of near immediate access. Most often I can accommodate patients within a week, if not within 24 hours depending on how quickly we can get things going. For those who are in need to talk to someone urgently, or perhaps finally mustered up the courage to see someone, often waiting weeks can lead to appointment cancellations or people in dire situations.
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