Telehealth

The Benefits of Teletherapy and Best Practices

By, Imane Doaud

The advent of telehealth in the field of psychology has not only reduced barriers to access to mental health services to those around the world but has also innovated and transformed the way in which psychologists practice today. For some of you, this may be the first time you've heard about or considered seeking telehealth services. Telehealth or telepsychology is the provision of behavioral or mental health services using technological modalities when face-to-face methods are not always feasible or preferred. This can include providing therapeutic services such as consultations, diagnostic interviews or provision of therapy via phone or video conferencing, using online applications to track behaviors and mood states, and so on.

Why Telehealth?

Telehealth services and telepsychology services increase access to therapy for individuals with a variety of disabilities, as well as individuals who may not have access to mental health services in their areas. It provides benefits including increased flexibility in scheduling, access to therapy in a variety of languages, the convenience of being in the comfort of one’s own home, and can be a less expensive alternative to in-person therapy. In addition, recent studies have found that teletherapy is just as effective as in-person therapy in producing positive therapeutic outcomes.

Benefits of Teletherapy

 In light of current events, people globally are recognizing the many benefits that come with moving to a fully virtual therapy practice. These benefits include: A lower barrier to entry, increased privacy and security, increased time efficiency and flexibility, increased safety in the event of unexpected circumstances, improved communication, decreased wait times, and better access for all populations.

The first appointment for those seeking mental health services can be one of the biggest challenges for many. Often times, patients will attend one session and never go back. One potential explanation for this is the anxiety and discomfort experienced when entering a waiting room setting. Teletherapy eliminates this by allowing you to access therapy in the comfort of your own home, or wherever your safe space may be.

With teletherapy, you have the comfort of knowing that you have access to facilities, food, and drink. For some clients, this may be pertinent. Additionally, teletherapy eliminates the inconvenience of long trips for those who live in remote areas. This way, individuals such as college students, those living in rural areas and those with disabilities hindering their ability to travel to their appointments can have easy access to mental health services from the comfort of their own homes.

This, in turn, reduces the stress that commutes may cause individuals that may be prone to anxiety. This is especially helpful for individuals who may be overworked or overcommitted. Teletherapy offers a degree of flexibility that may not be possible with in-person mental health services. For many people, time is of the essence and a lack of it can act as a barrier for many who are in need of mental health services. With teletherapy, wait times are significantly reduced, and your therapist’s ability to accommodate your needs is significantly increased.

By eliminating many of these barriers to access to mental health services, telehealth also increases individuals’ feelings of safety and security. Sometimes, barriers such as severe weather conditions, or the threat of succumbing to illness can force individuals to choose between their safety and their mental health. Teletherapy allows clients to choose their safety and their mental health every time. Not only that, but individuals also have the comfort of knowing that they are subject to maximal privacy. This could eliminate fears of judgment many people face when walking into a clinic.

Increased security provided by telehealth therapy leads to better communication overall between the client and the therapist. Scheduling is streamlined and can be conveniently done via a secure link, and reminder emails or texts can be easily arranged for. Communication becomes streamlined through teletherapy. You no longer have to go through the front desk or rely on staff that are constantly changing. You can go directly through your provider to arrange appointments, discuss concerns and more. 

Resources for more information:

https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/onliney -therapy

https://www.apa.org/pi/disability/resources/publications/telepsychology

https://thereseborchard.com/2017/08/19/studies-say-telemedicine-is-as-effective-as-in-person-psychotherapy/


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