Telehealth therapy became an important lifeline for many during the pandemic. Being able to see a therapist while self-isolating was the only way most people could access mental health care. Telehealth therapy, also called online therapy, was around prior to the pandemic, but it wasn’t commonly offered. In my practice, I did offer telehealth therapy prior to the pandemic, but in person was more popular by far. Now however, due to more people trying telehealth therapy, the online version seems to be just as popular as in person, and in fact has advantages to in person therapy. Below are five advantages to telehealth therapy that you might consider when deciding if telehealth therapy is right for you.
1. It’s as effective as in person therapy
It’s normal to have questions about telehealth therapy, and a big one is, does it work? The answer according to studies is, yes, it’s proving to be as effective as in person therapy. Studies on telehealth therapy started around 1960, but with the pandemic the popularity of telehealth grew significantly out of necessity. Most of these studies are focused on video therapy, but audio only therapy (usually over the phone) shows a similar effectiveness as well.
2. Reduces travel time to zero
An added benefit of telehealth therapy is that there is no need to commute to a therapist’s office. This not only reduces the stress of commuting and arriving on time, but can also make it possible to fit therapy into a schedule that might not allow for the added time commuting. There’s now no need to cancel if a car’s in the shop leaving no alternate way to get to the appointment or a child’s at home sick for the day and can’t be left alone for the parent to go to their appointment.
Also, an added benefit to not having to travel to an office means that those interested in couples and/or family therapy no longer need everyone in the same room. Telehealth therapy can make it possible to participate in therapy when schedules or situations don't allow everyone to meet at an office at a certain time each week.
3. Can insure privacy
Privacy is always a concern when it comes to therapy. The therapist is committed to keeping confidentiality whenever possible, but having to go to a therapist’s office has drawbacks for some. The potential of seeing other people and needing to explain where you’re going or entering into a known therapist’s office can have its challenges if a person doesn’t want others to know they’re seeking treatment. For some, they may have colleagues in the same office or perhaps they live in a very small town and usually see someone they know whenever they’re out in public. Whatever the reason, telehealth insures no one will be seen coming or going from an appointment.
4. Increases accessibility to specialists
It can be hard to find a therapist, let alone find a therapist within driving distance who specializes in what a person needs. In more populated areas this can be less of an issue, but it can still be problematic if the providers are full, which happens as well. With telehealth, a person can then see a therapist that practices anywhere in their state, whether that’s in the same town or hours away. Masters level clinicians are licensed by the state and can treat anyone who resides in that state. Telehealth therapy can help people see specialists that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to, increasing positive outcomes in the mental health profession overall.
5. Fits into a busy schedule
Typically a person needs to block out an hour in their schedule, with the therapy usually lasting about 50 minutes. However, with travel times the time that needs to be blocked out for therapy goes up, sometimes significantly. With telehealth, all a person needs is the time spent in the therapy session. This makes it possible for some to go on a lunch break, before work, or in the evening without having to impact other activities. Many times people are coming to therapy to feel less stress overall, and having to rush to and from therapy can actually do the opposite.
Telehealth therapy has benefits, as does in person therapy. Knowing about telehealth therapy and its benefits is valuable in making the decision of whether or not to try it. Accessing treatment is key to getting the help people need and the increase in telehealth therapy as an option is a welcomed addition to help those during this growing mental health crisis.