What with everything we’re facing right now … the threat of Covid, work furloughs and shutdowns, and nagging emotional problems, conventional face-to-face therapy may not be an option right now. Does that mean that we have to just put getting help with life’s problems on hold? Of course not. Now more than ever before we may need mental health counseling. Remote therapy (or teletherapy, as it’s often called) can be the perfect way to get that help and get it now.
Have questions about the teletherapy process? How is it different from conventional face-to-face therapy? Not sure if remote counseling is right for you? I’ve created some Q & A’s to give you a better idea of what it’s all about and increase your comfort level.
Q. How does remote counseling work?
A. It’s pretty simple. Like most tele-therapists, I provide a platform for my clients to log into. There’s no cost to you for the platform I use. I just send you a link, you log on at the designated time, and off we go.
Q. What is remote counseling? Will I be talking to a robot or responding to taped messages?
A. Remote counseling has nothing to do with interacting with a robot or to a recorded message. It’s a one-on-one interaction between client and therapist. The only difference is that sessions take place using videoconferencing on your computer. It’s the same process as talking with your friends using FaceTime or Zoom.
Q. I’m concerned about privacy. Should I be?
A. Not at all. I use a HIPAA compliant telehealth platform to see clients. My sessions are private and secure. They are the privacy and security measures required by law. On your end, you’ll want to find a place away from distractions and foot traffic, let others in the house know when and where you’ll be and for how long, and ask them not to disturb you during this time. Also, make sure to turn off or mute your cell phone and other devices to avoid interruptions. Finally, use a good headset with good voice quality.
Q. What are the advantages of teletherapy?
A. First, it’s practical and convenient. You don’t have to leave your home for sessions. If you live at a distance from your therapist, that obstacle is removed.
Flexibility. Scheduling sessions are easier for both me and my clients. Also, it might give you and your therapist different ways to experience talk therapy that go beyond traditional face-to-face interactions.
Stress reduction. Being in your own, familiar surroundings can be a stress reducer for many people. Some people are more comfortable expressing their feelings through talking while others prefer face-to-face interaction. And that’s therapeutic right off the bat! You might find that teletherapy works better than seeing me in person.
Better understanding. Video sessions give me a better understanding of what your world outside of my office is like. So I’m getting to know my clients on a broader level.
Q. Could remote therapy be a passing phase? Are most therapists getting on board with it?
A. I was reading about a recent survey that shows three-quarters of therapists have switched from in-person to remote therapy and another 16 percent are doing a combination of remote and in-person sessions since sheltering in place started. My hunch is that it will continue to be offered – lockdowns or no lockdowns.
Q. Isn’t it better to wait until the lockdowns are over so I can see a therapist in person?
A. More people getting mental health therapy are coming onboard with teletherapy. I’m hearing other providers say that remote therapy is working so well for their clients that they will continue with it even after the lockdowns are eased. When you are struggling emotionally, you should get help sooner rather than later. Don’t put it off and let problems worsen.
Q. How do most therapists feel about remote sessions?
A. Speaking for myself, I’m very pleased with the quality of remote counseling sessions – both on my end and the reactions and results I’ve seen with my online clients.
Q. Will online sessions be as good as face-to-face interaction?
A. You might not see the value of teletherapy or understand how it works. I ask you to withhold judgment until you’ve given it a try. It may be perfect for you – or not.
Q. Are there some mental health problems that are best dealt with conventionally, in an office setting?
A. Teletherapy helps with any problem you may be having, just like conventional therapy: relationship counseling, anxiety, depression, grief and loss counseling … or anything else you may need help with.
Q. I have trust issues. Won’t remote therapy sessions be more uncomfortable for me?
A. Trust isn’t something that doesn’t just immediately happen. Rather, it builds over time. If you’ve been a client of mine, you have probably crossed that hurdle. If you’re new to teletherapy and haven’t had sessions with me before, you will learn that you’re in a safe place, that you can be yourself, not only because we’re developing trust but because you’re on your own turf.