Is Teletherapy Right for Me?
Updated: Jan 23, 2021
You may be wondering about how teletherapy works and whether the benefits are the same as in person therapy. You may be skeptical, or feel that it will be less personal than traditional therapy. I am here to say that for many folks, teletherapy is a wonderful option that can be just as rewarding as in-person sessions. For some individuals, teletherapy is an even better choice.
First of all, it is so convenient! Teletherapy removes barriers to seeking treatment that may exist for lots of people. Imagine not having to sit in traffic or find parking in order to get to therapy. You can show up in your comfiest sweats, sip on your favorite tea, and simply turn on your computer. Another barrier people sometimes face is lack of access to therapists, particularly in rural areas. Telehealth can fill this gap and create an option for mental health care where ever you are in the great state of Texas.
Second, it's easier to fit therapy into a busy schedule. If you're working, trying to take care of the kids, or otherwise engaged with a lot of obligations, finding the time for therapy can feel daunting. Therapy often takes the back burner because we tend to put the needs of others before our own. Teletherapy makes it more feasible to fit a session in when it is convenient for you. Maybe you don't have time to drive across town on your lunch break for a session, but you might be able to boot up your laptop and you're ready to go.
Third, it can be much less intimidating. Sometimes anxiety makes it difficult to leave the house or want to meet new people. With teletherapy, you can stay in your own environment that is comfortable to you (see above re: comfy sweats and favorite tea). No fancy offices to navigate, no receptionists, and no potential for running into someone you might know.
Additionally, research shows that teletherapy can be just as affective as in-person therapy. According the the American Psychological Association, telehealth services can have the same benefit as in-person sessions when the therapist is competent and the technology being used is working properly. For some individuals, teletherapy is a great option for long-term therapy. For others, maybe it's the perfect stepping stone towards seeing someone in person.
Now, with all the benefits of teletherapy, there are certain circumstances that may indicate it's not going to be a good fit for you. It is important to consider if any of these factors apply to you in order to make an informed decision about whether teletherapy is right for you.
Here are a few examples.
You are in crisis. A telehealth therapist's capacity to offer immediate crisis support is rather limited. It may be very difficult to contact the appropriate crisis services on your behalf without disconnecting from the session, and that is not ideal. Telehealth therapists may not have all the information necessary for first responders about your exact whereabouts since the sessions can be conducted from anywhere. Please call 911 or your local crisis services if you are experiencing severe mental health symptoms or feel you are a danger to yourself or others.
You do not like technology or feel stressed out troubleshooting tech problems. Sometimes with teletherapy, as with all technology, there may be issues that arise due to problems with the devices, telehealth platform, or internet connection. If these kinds of concerns make your anxiety go through the roof, then perhaps in person sessions will feel better for you. If you'd rather troubleshoot a poor internet connection than sit in traffic for 45 minutes, then telehtherapy may be for you!
Getting out of the house for therapy is a therapeutic intervention in and of itself. For some individuals, merely getting outside and seeing their therapist in person is part of the therapeutic process. If you have mental health symptoms that tend to keep you isolated from others, then seeing someone in person can be highly beneficial. That is not to say that teletherapy wouldn't also be helpful, but if your therapy goals include working on getting out more to interact with others, then teletherapy may actually be more enabling for maladaptive behaviors. It could still be a great starting point though. There are some therapists who offer both in-person and telehealth options, so this might be the best of both worlds if you're on the fence.
If you have read through this blog post, I encourage you to examine what you might be taking away from it. Did the positives stick out to you? Or did the limitations leave you feeling, “meh." If you notice a strong pull one way or another, that is a good indication of whether teletherapy may be right for you or not. Listen to your gut. If you're feeling optimistic, try it out! If you've ruled out teletherapy, then maybe you'll feel more motivated now to seek out a therapist in your area.
References and Resources
APA telepsychology information
Looking for a therapist in your area? Check out Psychology Today.
Considering using insurance? Check out SonderMind to get matched with a therapist who accepts many of the major insurances.
Interested in teletherapy that includes texting/live chat/video? Check out BetterHelp.