Benefits of Online Therapy
The past two years have seen a huge increase in mental health providers offering therapy services via video platforms accessible from electronic devices with internet connection. As a result, many mental health providers now offer services, either solely telehealth or offer a choice of in-person or telehealth. For many individuals, mental health providers offering services via telehealth gives them an opportunity to participate in therapy, when previously they would not have participated in in-person therapy.
Telehealth providers are able to see any individuals who reside in the same state where the mental health provider has a mental health license to practice therapy.
Participating in online therapy can have many benefits. For some clients, a therapist who is the right fit for them, might not live in a drivable distance from where the therapist is located, and telehealth might provide the convenience of having a therapist who is the right fit and still accessible. Another benefit is for some clients having the comforts of their home environment allows them to relax and participate with less stress. At home, a client is in control of the thermostat, sitting in a location or position they feel most comfortable, and having a blanket, pillow, stuffed animal, or fidget toys to assist in a decreased stress level. Also, for some clients, the opportunity to have their household pets accessible during a therapy session can alleviate their stress when needed and that can provide insight to the therapist of a source of comfort. Additionally, a therapist seeing a client’s home environment can help the therapist better understand the client’s situation and provide appropriate feedback.
For many clients, once they find a therapist, they develop trust and familiarity, and the thought of changing therapists is distressing. If a client moves to a different city within that state, they can still see the same therapist virtually and continue that connection. If the therapist moves to another city within that state, the therapist and the client can continue to work together. This ability for both the client and therapist to continue working together in different cities in the same state can enhance the progress the client makes.
Additionally, for some clients, the availability of food and drink in their own homes helps them to participate better in therapy. Depending on a therapist’s comfort level allowing a client to smoke or vape while in the therapy session, creates a better therapeutic relationship, and with it being a virtual therapy session, there is no need for concern over the building policies.
There are some clients who would have never attended therapy if it was only offered in person, due to financial issues of affording the gas to drive to the office, difficulties with cars breaking down, the drivetime during certain hours of the day, the extra time of taking time off work to drive to a physical location. Some clients have strong fears of leaving their homes, fears of driving, fears of being in a waiting room with other clients, and fears of attending therapy in person prohibit a person from benefiting from therapy. There are some clients, who because of the comfort of being “distant” through a computer, address issues via online therapy that may have never been addressed if the client was attending in-person therapy and are successful in making more progress as a result.
Lastly, there are clients who have such a busy schedule, while they need therapy, they might not have the extra time to drive to a therapy office and then drive back. For those clients, the convenience of dong therapy on their work break, in the car before work, after work, in the car at the pickup line at their children’s school, while the family members they are the caregiver, are sleeping or occupied, provides them the ability to have a busy schedule and time for therapy. There are also clients, whose confidentiality is of extreme and utmost importance. For those individuals, not being seen by others in a waiting room helps them protect their confidentiality. As well as, possibly using telehealth to have a therapist who practices in a different city or different part of the state from where the client resides, helps the client feel that their confidentiality is being protected to the best level.
Over the past two years, while I have been practicing telehealth, the reasons listed are all reasons I have encountered that people benefit from participating in online therapy. These are the reasons; I believe online therapy is here to stay and will continue to have a strong beneficial impact in the years to come.