What is teletherapy?
Teletherapy is the name for psychotherapy provided via online video session or over the phone. This can be done from the comfort of your home.
Is teletherapy as helpful as in-person therapy?
Contrary to early expectations, teletherapy has been shown repeatedly in research studies to be equivalent in effectiveness to in-person therapy. Thanks to recent improvements in videoconferencing technology, there are fewer and fewer differences between the experience of a video session and a face-to-face session.
Therapy is often helpful for reasons that have little to do with how it is delivered. For example, one type of therapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective largely because of the skills and habits your therapist teaches you. So if you are able to put into practice the recommendations of your CBT therapist, your chances for improvement are good. This is true whether you’re seeing them virtually or in person.
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). The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs was a leader in this effort, and over the years the service showed increasing success. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, teletherapy use has expanded further due to social distancing requirements.
Who benefits from teletherapy?
People who benefit most are the same people who benefit 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 with your therapist 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 often travel for work.
At first, 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 initially, but after getting familiar with the therapist, 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 planning, you may be able to arrange sessions for times 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 treatment creates more problems. Fortunately, teletherapy is not something you need to make a months-long commitment to before trying it. If you do an initial 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.