What are the benefits of telehealth therapy? Telehealth therapy, also known as teletherapy, is mental health counseling that is done over the phone. Video Conferencing platforms are improving to such an extent that many therapists are incorporating this form of virtual mental health support into their practices. This has grown in popularity tremendously since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which prohibited individuals from attending in-person therapy consultations. Teletherapy can be convenient for therapists and clients alike. Most research suggests that it has the same rewards as in-person therapy. Teletherapy falls into the telehealth system as it addresses mental health.
What is ‘Teletherapy’, and what are the benefits of telehealth therapy?
Teletherapy is any type of remote therapy that uses technology as means of communication between the client and therapist. Some examples of teletherapy include:
- Having therapy sessions over the phone.
- Having a group chat for group therapy.
- Using videoconferencing for individual, couples, or group therapy.
- Receiving therapy through email or instant messenger.
- Using apps that connect clients and therapists to each other and offer therapy within the app.
The Benefits of Telehealth Therapy:
When compared to traditional therapy, teletherapy provides a range of benefits.
Benefits for Therapy Clients
Most research has suggested that teletherapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy. There are various benefits to seeking research-supported teletherapy. These benefits include:
- Better access to care: It’s not always possible for individuals to make use of traditional therapy due to physical disability, geographic location, or scheduling issues. With teletherapy, all individuals have access to their required care.
- Lower costs: Teletherapy could help clients save money on their much-needed treatment. Clients are more likely to incur viewer therapy-related expenses when they aren’t required to travel to receive treatment or need to pay for childcare.
- High Satisfaction: Individuals who use quality teletherapy have reported high satisfaction with the treatment that they receive.
- More Privacy: Those who choose teletherapy do not have to go sit in busy waiting rooms but are able to seek therapy from the comfort and privacy of their own home. This alleviates privacy concerns for some individuals.
- Better public health: The COVID-19 health crisis has changed the way most people live their everyday lives. By being able to make use of teletherapy, individuals are able to seek medical care at home and do not risk spreading the virus to vulnerable individuals. Teletherapy is great as it allows individuals to receive the medical care they require without risking infection and disease.
Benefits for Therapists
There are therapists who have found that teletherapy suits their personal style as well as allow them to meet their practice goals. Other benefits include:
Reduced Overheads: The maintenance of an office can become expensive. When therapists switch to a telehealth-only model they are able to eliminate many of their overheads. For those who prefer part-time teletherapy may be able to rent office space on just a few days of the week which will ultimately lower costs.
The ability to reach more clients: Telehealth could improve access to individuals for those with disabilities, financial worries, transportation difficulties, as well as other barriers. This improved access will allow therapists to help more people than before. This will widen their potential consumer base and help them earn more money.
A shorter commune: If a therapist only offers teletherapy, they are able to do so and support their clients from home. This will ultimately reduce or eliminate their commute.
The Limitations and Disadvantages of Teletherapy
Although there are numerous benefits of telehealth therapy and telehealth systems, there are also a number of limitations.
Limitations for Therapy Clients
Teletherapy is not a solution for everyone. Some drawbacks may include:
Compliance: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires all healthcare providers, therapists included, to protect the privacy of clients and patients. Unsecure chat and other programs may expose sensitive data, therefore, clients should only be working with therapists that encrypt data.
Therapy environment: For individuals who have little privacy at home, finding the time as well as the space for a therapy session may become stressful. Therefore treatment in an office may offer clients with a low-stress alternative to treatment at home.
Technical Difficulties: Slow internet connections, glitches in video software, and communication delays can make online therapy feel more stressful and much less personal. For individuals who lack technological proficiency or have a mistrust of digital platforms, telehealth may not be the best option.
Communication: Communicating across a digital channel could make it more difficult to read body language as well as other subtle cues. Email, as well as phone therapy, eliminate these subtle forms of communication.
Limitations for Therapists
The challenges that therapists may face with digital therapy include:
- Ethical and Legal issues: A therapist is required to comply with state licensing board regulations in both the state in which they practice as well as the state in which the client resides. This compliance may require significant legal knowledge, and violating this law could endanger the therapist’s license.
- More client anonymity: Therapists who meet with clients on a digital platform might face challenges when it comes to supporting an individual who poses a danger to themselves or others. It is possible for clients to even conceal their identities. It is the duty of the therapist to warn the proper authorities if a client is at risk of harming themselves or others. Client anonymity could make this increasingly difficult. Again, resulting in interference with a therapist’s ethical obligations.
- Client privacy: It is imperative that therapists comply with HIPAA as well as other privacy laws. They’ll need to choose the right platform as well as take proactive steps in order to secure client data. Doing this demands time and technical proficiency.
- Communication barriers: It may take longer to establish a strong rapport with clients when using a digital network. Therapists may struggle to read important cues in body language as well as other forms of subtle communication, making it much more difficult to offer high-quality treatment.
How Does a Teletherapy Session Work?
Although it is possible to have a teletherapy session via email or phone, contemporary telemental health sessions typically make use of video chat. The process used is therapeutic and similar to in-person therapy. It generally begins with the client and therapist getting to know one another and discussing treatment goals. Afterward, the therapist may dig more deeply into the issues that the client presents, make recommendations for behavioral changes as well as encourage the client to reflect on their emotions.
The therapist may ask the client to take the necessary steps to ensure confidentiality. These steps include:
- Logging on from a private network.
- Keeping the computer locked to prevent others from viewing the session.
- Accessing therapy via an encrypted therapy platform.
It is important for clients to ask their therapists which steps they take to ensure client privacy and confidentiality, as well as what they do to prevent third parties from viewing sessions or session notes.
Who May Provide Teletherapy
Anyone could offer to support an individual online or over the phone. Only licensed professionals can, however, describe their services as therapy. Clinicians may call themselves therapists depending on which state they work in.
Examples of professionals who may provide teletherapy include:
- Licensed professional counselors.
- Licensed marriage and family therapists.
- Licensed clinical social workers
- Licensed psychiatrists
The licensing rules of each state vary, but therapists must generally hold a license in the state where they treat their clients. This rule means that if a clinician has a license in Tennessee, they are not legally allowed to treat a patient from California.
There are various benefits of telehealth therapy and the use of telehealth systems. If you are considering teletherapy, be sure to use the services of a licensed therapist or clinician. Ask them about the measures that they are taking to ensure the safety and confidentiality of your session. Speak your heart out without the stress of commuting or the unnecessary exposure to possible diseases.
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