Teletherapy (also commonly referred to as Distance Counseling, Virtual Therapy, and Telemental health) is a form of distance counseling that focuses on providing care to individuals who otherwise may not seek or receive the help and support that they need in order to thrive. Teletherapy uses videoconferencing (similar to Skype) in order to make this possible.
Some primary reasons that individuals do not receive in-office therapy include the following (SAMHSA, 2013):
• Uncertainty about where to go for counseling
• Lack of available counseling services in the area
• Lack of time
• Concerns about confidentiality/concerns that others would find out and develop a negative opinion of the person
• Work schedule barriers, fear of negative impact on employment, or work travel
• Lack of transportation or inconvenience of travel
• Increased level of comfort and openness within the comfort of their own home.
Other reasons include physical health concerns and mobility issues, severe anxiety that makes it difficult to leave the home (such as in cases of Agoraphobia or Panic Disorder), and situations that involve relocation amid the course of therapy and the client wishes to continue with his or her current therapist rather than transferring to a new provider.
Distance counseling via videoconferencing transcends these types of barriers by making it easier to find treatment, increasing personal privacy, eliminating or reducing the need for individuals to leave work for their appointments, and reducing the time it takes to attend sessions by eliminating the commute and need for transportation. Engaging in counseling through telemental health allows individuals, couples, and families the opportunity to experience equivalent (or increased) therapeutic benefits if offered this alternative to the traditional in-office therapy setting.
How do I know if Teletherapy is right for me?
If any of the factors on the aforementioned list apply to you and your life, it is likely that Teletherapy is just the answer for you! That said, some individuals seek this method of therapy simply because they find it more convenient or preferable. My philosophy is that we should all have the opportunity to actively attend to our personal growth and wellness in the way that works best for us.
How do I know if Teletherapy is not right for me?
Because effective video sessions are dependent upon a solid Internet connection, if you do not have Internet access (or if your Internet connection tends to be “spotty”) in the primary location where you would be during sessions, this would just lead to a difficult and frustrating experience on your part! Some individuals have the ability to manage this by using a private office in their workplace, or we conduct phone sessions as an alternative.
If you are currently in crisis or have recently experienced a crisis, Teletherapy may not be the most beneficial method of receiving services, particularly if you and I are located in different states (or counties). If there are other options available to you for in-office visits with a mental health provider closer to your residence (and you have the ability to attend in person), this is typically preferable due to the increased accessibility for crisis response.
There are a variety of other factors that may indicate in-person therapy as the more suitable option to meet your needs. This is dependent on each person’s unique circumstances, which we will have the opportunity to discuss during our initial conversation.
How does it work?
During sessions, both the client and I are in our separate locations within a private space (i.e. behind a closed and locked door with no one else present), with necessary sound control to ensure maximum confidentiality. The computers or devices used must remain on a secure, stable platform to avoid wobbling and shaking during the videoconferencing session since we will be relying on video clarity for our face-to-face interactions.