The pandemic has put people in a position where isolation and anxiety have impacted their mental health. Some were in an already fragile state and the events of the last two years have pushed their mental health into dangerous territory. The irony is that isolation to stay safe from the virus has also made it unlikely to be able to get the treatment you need for the damage caused by the isolation.
In other words, it isn’t always possible to see a doctor since we need to stay at home and be safe. Even those doctors in OKC and elsewhere that are still taking in new patients are experiencing such a huge uptick in cases that they don’t have appointments available for the foreseeable future.
This is making teletherapy a very popular means of making sure that people can get the treatment that they need. In this article, we will go over several things to know about teletherapy so you can decide if it is going to work to get you the help that you need.
How does teletherapy work?
There are many types of therapy that can be done online but in this article, we will specifically talk about therapy for mental health. In fact, teletherapy for mental health conditions can also be called telepsychology.
There are a few ways to work it out but the closest to a traditional therapy session online is to use a video conferencing app like Zoom to do a one on one meeting. There isn’t much difference about it other than the two people are not in the same room together. The format works in an identical fashion as an in-person meeting.
It is possible to add to the experience through text messaging and even through phone calls to round out the therapy session for things not covered in the actual session.
In some cases, even apps can be used for the entire process. In this case, the entire process is contained within a single ecosystem in which a patient is connected with a therapist on the platform.
It’s very fortunate that the advances made in technology coincided with an even this extraordinary. Millions of people were able to effortlessly access care for their mental health that had gotten damaged by the effects of such a traumatic episode.
Does it actually work?
It’s clear that millions of people were able to access mental health care that otherwise wouldn’t have been available to them without teletherapy. However, that doesn’t answer the question of whether it works or not.
In most cases, this therapy does work for people. For those that haven’t had issues before the pandemic, the numbers seem to be very positive when it comes to how effective teletherapy is for helping people. This is because most of those cases were patients who were experiencing mild to moderate conditions. How well the therapy works depends strongly on the type and severity of the condition.
In other words, teletherapy works for many but not everybody will be able to have successful treatment with this type of system.
The problem is that for people with an acute diagnosis of mental health disorders the treatment needs to be more advanced than what can be accomplished remotely.
Advantages of teletherapy
The most obvious advantage of teletherapy is that it can keep patients and doctors safe during the pandemic. A doctor can see many people in a day in close quarters when not using teletherapy. With new variants evading vaccines, it is very prudent to not have to be in contact with people physically. Teletherapy gives everybody the safe option of not meeting in-person to avoid spreading the virus.
Even without the virus, teletherapy is a positive for many with scheduling issues. Not everybody works a 9 to 5 job and can schedule time for a session. And even those that do, trying to go to a session in the middle of a workday is not always an option. This flexibility lends itself well to teletherapy since it can be done anytime.
There is also a massive benefit to people who live in rural areas that are not served by the presence of many health care specialists in general with mental health care being practically non-existent. They can get help for most of their mental health needs like anxiety or depression without having to travel very far as they would in normal circumstances.
The disadvantages of teletherapy
One of the biggest drawbacks of teletherapy is not unique to it being technology-driven. The costs put it out of reach of many people on a fixed income or low income. The cost to talk to a therapist is not much lower for teletherapy than it would be for a normal session in person.
Aside from that, many people that could use teletherapy may not get as much out of it as a traditional session. Teletherapy can be difficult to make a personal connection. Even though you can see each other, there is an invisible language spoken when meeting in person that can be picked up on by both parties.
The technology itself is also a barrier as networks can be hacked and personal information may get leaked. It is important for you to make sure that the app is secured on your end. How do you know if the therapist is tech-savvy enough to protect your session or data from their end? This is a bit tricky so there is a leap of faith required to make sure that you are protected.
Lastly, it is easier for fake therapists to put themselves out there online and defraud people who think they are legitimate. It is very important to go through a trusted app or to get a referral to a licensed therapist through your general practitioner. Don’t fall for social media posts or ads online from people claiming to be experts. If you find somebody on your own without a referral, make sure to do some digging to make sure that they are legitimate and actually licensed to practice in a state.