A video by any other name...
Posted: September 22, 2022
Telehealth, teletherapy, virtual therapy, online therapy… You might see different names depending on who you talk to or where you are (kind of like soda vs. pop). They are all terms for the same thing – meeting with your therapist using audio or video instead of in person. But you probably knew that. It’s become a staple of healthcare since March of 2020. Some providers started using it to continue care safely and you (or they) haven’t been back to an office since. Telehealth has been studied for effectiveness for some time but particularly since the exponential increase in use in the last couple of years. More research is needed for many mental health issues and situations, but overall it seems most users (clients or providers) have found it effective. And not just for individual adults, but for teens and children, couples and even sometimes families. It certainly will be around for the foreseeable future. Here I want to share a couple of positives, negatives, and considerations if you are wondering if it’s working the way it should for you or if you are still on the fence.
Not so helpfulLet’s start with the negative. The biggest problem most people have is connectivity. If you don’t have a good signal or enough bandwidth for the video the visit may be very frustrating. It’s bad enough if it’s a chat with grandma and she keeps freezing, but when you’re deep in the feels with your therapist and the session drops it feels particularly bad. You may not have control over solar flares or the other random things that mess with our technology, but there are a few things you can do to help stay in the moment. One is, make sure you are in a good location with a strong wifi or cellular signal, or using your wired network. Also, check to make sure you have updated your apps (and maybe your device), depending on what service you and your therapist are using.
Very helpfulOne of the biggest positives is convenience. You can log in from almost anywhere. There’s no commute, which potentially frees up the times you can schedule (like on lunch break), saves on gas, and also broadens the number of potential therapists (especially helpful for those in lower density areas). You also aren’t necessarily stuck rescheduling when your car is in the shop or you just aren’t up to driving in for one reason or another.
Some considerationsThere are a few things you will want to think about as you are deciding if telehealth is best for you.
- Telehealth is not the best option, and your therapist may insist on in person, if you are in crisis or suicidal.
- If you do not have a private or safe space to meet, telehealth will not be appropriate.
- Speaking of privacy, telehealth can be really convenient if childcare is an issue, but trying to do therapy with kids (or even other family members or coworkers) in the background can be a little challenging at times. Talk to your therapist if this might be an issue.
- Communication is about 70% body language. Although a video call gives us most of that, we do lose a little. Our brains have to work a little harder to stay present and read those messages when mediated by a screen, and it may feel a little distant emotionally. That may be helpful in some cases, but in others that may mean slower resolution of symptoms.