What is teletherapy?
Teletherapy is the name for psychotherapy provided over the phone or via online video chat. It can be done from the comfort of your home.
Is teletherapy as helpful as in-person therapy?
Contrary to some early expectations, teletherapy has repeatedly been shown in research studies to be equivalently effective to in-person therapy. Thanks to recent improvements to videoconferencing technology, there are fewer and fewer differences between the experience of a video session and a face-to-face session.
Often, therapy is helpful for reasons that have little to do with how the therapy is delivered. For example, one type of therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective laregely because of the skills and habits it teaches you. So if you are able to put into practice the recommendations from your CBT therapist, your chances for improvement are good. That’s true whether you’re seeing them in person or virtually.
Is it new?
Teletherapy has been around for decades. Historically, large health systems used teletherapy primarily as a way to ensure that people in rural areas could receive treatment without travelling great distances.
With the improvement of videoconferencing software, the use of teletherapy expanded in the years 2005-2019 (see chart, right). The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs was a leader in this effort, and the service showed increasing success over the years. Its use further expanded with the social distancing requirements during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Who benefits from teletherapy?
People who benefit most from teletherapy are the same people who benefit most from in-person therapy. If you are committed to do the work it takes to improve, and to prioritize that process, you will likely do well regardless of whether the sessions are held in person or remotely.
Teletherapy is also extremely useful for those who suffer from limited mobility or physical difficulties. When medical limitations make visiting a therapist’s office difficult, remote visits can be a primary means of getting care. Teletherapy is also useful for people who travel often for work, but who don’t want to find a therapist elsewhere.
Some people find teletherapy less comfortable or desirable than in-person therapy. It is certainly nice to be in the presence of someone helpful and caring like a therapist. Some clients report that doing something as personal as therapy over video feels a bit strange, but that only lasts for part of the initial session. After that they describe it as feeling “normal.”
One of the most potentially problematic aspects of teletherapy involves privacy. If a family member is in the next room, you might be more reserved during a therapy session. However, with some thoughtful scheduling, you can arrange sessions for when you’re unlikely to be disrupted or disturbed.
A great option when in person visits are not possible
Teletherapy is an excellent option to ensure you get the help you need even during a lockdown. Too often, putting off that help creates more problems. Fortunately, it’s not something you need to make a months-long commitment to before you try it. If you do an initial teletherapy session with a therapist, you can decide afterward if it will work for you or not.
The providers at the Manhattan Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy all offer teletherapy services. Call or message us today to arrange arrange an initial consultation.