If there is a phrase to sum up what we are all going through right now, it is “unprecedented times.” At the same time that we are experiencing increasing uncertainty, upheaval to our work and school routines, and rapid adjustments to expectations economically, socially, and for recreation, we are also faced with increasing isolation and reduction of community support. To this therapist, that sounds like a recipe for a perfect storm of anxiety.
Thankfully, we at Upside Therapy & Evaluation Center have the privilege and opportunity to offer telehealth / video therapy. Our team is able to continue to provide counseling and therapy services to our valued clients through our HIPAA secure video therapy platform. With these adjustments, we’d like to share what we’ve learned so far!
Online Therapy Is Effective
Countless research studies have examined the factors for effective in person therapy, and compared them with online therapy provisions. The research has overwhelmingly found that online therapy is just as effective as in person therapy. In fact, some of the factors that are potential drawbacks, such as not being able to see facial expressions or body language, are mitigated by our use of video therapy resources. When we know that the number one predictor of success in therapy is the connection and relationship between the client and therapist, we’ve also now learned that this connection can be sustained through video therapy services. We also know that online therapy is effective with all ages – even young kids!
Online Therapy Is Convenient
Another obvious benefit to online therapy at this current state of social distancing and quarantine is the ability to continue therapeutic work, even when we can’t (or shouldn’t) leave our homes. With video therapy, you can attend therapy in the comfort of your own home (but please wear pants!). The factors of commute, traffic, and the hassle of a waiting room are all instantly resolved through online therapy. In fact, you can be located anywhere in the state that your therapist is licensed in to receive therapy remotely. For clients with mobility and accessibility difficulties, online therapy eliminates barriers to accessing psychological services.
Online Therapy Lets You Go Deeper
Because you are already in an environment where you (hopefully) feel safe and comfortable, you may be more quickly able to pick up where you last left off with your therapist. You might have the opportunity to show your living environment, or items of symbolic meaning to your therapist. Clients have reported that the psychological “distance” created in video therapy has allowed them to open up and reveal vulnerabilities and insecurities that may have been barriers in an in person setting
Online Therapy Might Need Supplies
For younger children, or those that are used to play based or activity based therapy, your therapist may ask you to provide some supplies for the session. While we would never want parents to have to supply all of the materials for a true play therapy session, it will likely help to have crayons, colored pencils, markers, paper, play-dough, and other arts and crafts supplies nearby. A child or adolescent may wish to bring favorite possessions, such as stuffed animals or books, to the session. With some easy adjustments, many games can be played virtually, or may not need supplies at all.
Online Therapy Is Not For Everyone
Even with all of the benefits of video therapy, we also have learned that there are some factors that make a telehealth / video session inappropriate for certain clients. We will require in each session knowledge of where the client is, and a means for contacting the client and an emergency contact, particularly in high risk situations. In all cases, online therapy is not meant for emergency or crisis resolution, and it is still best to call 911, 211, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, rather than rely on a telehealth session. For those who are experience active psychosis, video sessions may exacerbate symptoms.
It is also possible that the technology necessary, such as high speed internet and a device with camera and microphone capabilities is not accessible at this time. Because of the potential for technology barriers, telehealth may not be an option for all.
For more information, to find out if telehealth is right for you, or to schedule a session, contact us. We are here to help!