As the pandemic drags on, it can really take a toll on us. Physically, mentally, and especially emotionally. We’re being impacted in ways we likely have never experienced before, and the need for effective therapy is all the more essential.
One of the biggest silver linings of the pandemic has been advances in the provision of telehealth, also called telepsychology, online therapy, or video therapy. When COVID began, I started offering therapy sessions through a secure video platform to protect the health of my clients. While skeptical at first, a year later I am thoroughly convinced that what the rapidly growing body of research tells us is true: Telehealth is every bit as effective as meeting in person.
My clients confirm this as well. Many describe feeling more able to engage productively in the work of therapy from the comfort of their home, perhaps with their cat, dog, or other animal companion nearby. Certainly the lack of commute is a huge bonus! Another tremendous benefit is that your options for seeing a therapist are greatly increased via telehealth. Because psychologists are licensed by state, you can see any therapist in the state where you are located during the session. For me, this means I can meet with you as long as you are located in Florida during our session.
Understandably, you may have questions and concerns about getting the help you need virtually rather than in person. Here are some common ones:
Can telehealth really help me?
We know that therapy in general is highly effective for most individuals, and research finds the same is true for telehealth. Meeting through a video platform can pose challenges for some, and I’m happy to help you navigate these issues. After a brief adjustment period, you can expect to feel comfortable and even enjoy meeting this way.
According to the American Psychological Association, “Telehealth is essentially just as effective as face-to-face psychotherapy and retention rates are higher” – meaning people tend to stay in online therapy longer rather than dropping out prematurely. This suggests people are having positive experiences with this rapidly growing way of participating in therapy. Additionally, research has shown that telepsychology delivered by video and phone is effective for depression, anxiety, and adjustment disorder1.
For more information on the current research:
What if I don’t feel connected to the therapist?
This is a very savvy question as it recognizes the importance of establishing a safe connection with your therapist. Meeting online can feel very different at first but typically after one or two meetings, we usually adapt and the interaction becomes genuine, meaningful, and connecting. You can expect to make a good connection with your therapist as early as when you first speak with them on the phone to schedule your first online session and certainly by the end of your first session.
What do I need to do to participate in an online session?
You’ll need a private space with a secure, reliable internet connection and a device including a computer with a webcam, laptop, iPad, or phone. If home or work does not afford privacy, you can meet from your car as long as you can access the internet.
Is it secure and private?
While any interaction across the internet is not guaranteed to be “unhackable,” I take every possible precaution to protect your privacy. I use a secure, HIPPA-compliant, encrypted video platform via TherapyPortal that is designed specifically for conducting therapy. It’s a far cry from Zoom or other commercially available technology.
What if I can’t figure out the technology?
If you can check your e-mail, use Face Time, or surf the internet, you can learn to use online therapy effectively. Know that I’m happy to help you navigate and troubleshoot any initial awkwardness of technology issues.
My hope is that this article increased your understanding of how telehealth can provide you with the well-researched benefits of engaging in psychotherapy from the safety and convenience of your home, office, or car. I invite you to contact me at 813-748-3913 and I’d be happy to speak with you about telehealth or answer any other questions you have about starting therapy.
1. Varker, T. et al., Psychological Services, Vol. 16, No. 4, 2019