The world in which we live provides opportunity to all individuals to access resources that they might not have had access to previously. Technology has provided many convenient, confidential, and effective options for therapy. Advances in online communication through companies like ZOOM and Microsoft have become more reliable and accessible to all. With the pandemic, technology provides the opportunity for individuals, couples, and others to connect with therapists without having to leave their place of safety. As an elite practice, we provide all clients access to the services that will work best for them.
Face to face, or what is known as traditional office-based therapy, has been shown to be successful. At the same time, therapy through tele-health has also shown to be reliable, convenient, and engaging. Many of our therapists are now providing tele-health options. We desire to keep the options simple and easy for our clients to access their therapist regardless of their location.
What is Tele-Health therapy?
Tele-Health therapy is any remote therapy that uses technology to help the therapist and client communicate. Some examples of teletherapy include:
- doing therapy sessions over the phone
- having a group therapy over a web-based platform
- using videoconferencing for individual, couples, or group therapy
- receiving therapy via email or instant messenger
- using apps that connect clients to therapists and offer therapy within the app
Each one provides an individual with a different experience. Tele-health therapy is delivered via the internet using any HIPPA compliant platforms.
What are the Benefits of Online Therapy?
Research suggests that tele-health therapy can be as effective as in-person therapy. The benefits of seeking research-supported tele-health therapy with a licensed therapist include:
- Greater access to care: Some people are unable to use traditional therapy due to physical disabilities, geographic location, or scheduling issues.
- Overall expense is Lower Costs: Tele-health therapy may help clients save money on treatment. Clients are also likely to incur fewer therapy-associated expenses when they do not have to travel to receive treatment or pay for childcare.
- High satisfaction: Some users of quality tele-health therapy report high satisfaction with treatment.
- More privacy: People who choose tele-health therapy do not have to sit in waiting rooms but can seek treatment in the privacy of their own homes. For some, this alleviates privacy concerns.
- Flexibility: Tele-health therapy can provide some greater flexibility regarding scheduling. Flexibility in scheduling does not reduce the quality of treatment.
Benefits for Families
- Engagement: By utilizing fun and engaging digital technology, tele-health therapy is very kid-friendly. We have seen that today’s children are exceptionally comfortable with computers and love game-based activities. In this world of ours, the digital dimensions of tele-health therapy have become very natural and almost expected by many.
- Consistency: Children benefit as well; since the attrition rate of therapists is often directly related to distance and travel time, eliminating travel results in a marked rise in that therapist’s consistency. This allows children to retain learned skills and continue progression towards their goals.
- Relaxed: For shy and more reserved children, tele-health can be less intimidating than traditional face-to-face therapy.
- No More Babysitter: Tele-health sessions conducted at home or in school eliminate the need to ever travel to another session and worry about babysitting for the other children
How a Teletherapy Session Works
While it is possible to do tele-health therapy via email or phone, contemporary tele-health therapy typically use video chat.
The therapeutic process is similar to in-person therapy. It usually begins with an initial session during which the therapist and client get to know one another and discuss treatment goals. After that, the therapist and client spend sessions uncovering or managing the issues. The therapist makes recommendations for behavioral changes and encourages the client to reflect on their emotions, issues, and other aspects that may need to change.
The therapist may ask the client to take steps to ensure confidentiality. These might include:
- logging on from a private network
- keeping their computer locked to prevent others from viewing the session
- accessing therapy via a HIPPA compliant encrypted therapy platform
Clients should also ask their therapists what specific steps they can take to protect client confidentiality and prevent third parties from viewing sessions or session notes.
We also know that technology and online services can have problems and interruptions that can occur. Our therapists will speak with the client in order to create a plan for what to do when interruptions happen. This is a required consideration by regulations in California for Tele-health therapy.
As with other health services, quality treatment gets better results. A person should work with their therapist to devise an effective course of treatment that offers the most benefits.
Receiving Counseling Online is Effective
A number of studies have shown the effectiveness of tele-health therapy. These studies have shown that tele-health therapy can be a great option and can even be done as an add on to face to face therapy.
In-office therapy is shown to be a preferred option for most. However, tele-health therapy is a positive alternative and with the pandemic, it is a preferred option at this time.
Tele-health therapy can help with a wide range of conditions and issues, including depression, anxiety, relationship problems, trauma, and chronic stress.
Emerging research suggests that teletherapy can treat most issues. For example, a 2010 analysis1 suggests that distance-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)2 for depression may be just as effective as in-person treatment.
Privacy and Protection
With all of the medical industry moving to electronic medical records (EMR) and tele-health as an option, both therapists and individuals seeking therapy need to be very aware of the technology they are using and any potential limitations it may have. Potential violations of privacy and confidentiality may happen. Both parties should do what they can to ensure that tele-health therapy does not introduce any security-related stressors to the relationship.
We use safe, updated software and applications that reduce the risk of a privacy breach, and only use HIPPA compliant software to ensure we are doing what we can to assist in the endeavor of protection. As with any online activity, we attempt to be extremely protective of your personal information, and not share anything private unless we are required to by law.
Ready to give online counseling a try?
Come experience the benefits of online therapy and see how it works for you.
If you are already working with a therapist and want to use the online method, just let your therapist know.