By Samantha Cleveland PLMHP, NCC
Our world is constantly evolving, and it seems like each year so much growth is happening in the world of technology. Throughout the pandemic, this came in handy. Students moved to online school, a lot of jobs became remote, and how we received physical and mental health services changed. One positive thing that we gained from a global pandemic was telehealth.
After experiencing a remote and isolated world, virtual care is something that some are familiar with, but not everyone. Understandably, there are some hesitations when telehealth is discussed as an option with clients. It’s new and fair to question whether it would be as effective as in-person sessions. I’m here to share more about what the telehealth experience can be like so you can make a best decision for yourself when it comes to your mental health care.
Based on my own clinical experience and research I have read, it is said that telehealth can be just as effective in treating mental health as in-person sessions. For a lot of people, it can also provide a level of comfort that they might not feel right away with in-person sessions. Meeting a new person in a new place can be overwhelming, so getting to experience the comfort of your own home can be a bit of a relief. Being in your own private space allows you to personalize your counseling experience by being able to have things like your favorite candle lit, your favorite blanket with you, or your pet by your side. Being in that familiar space can make it a little easier to open up to a therapist. As a clinician, it is important to me that my clients feel at ease while we are in sessions and that I can create a space for them to feel safe being their authentic selves. Not only can telehealth create a setting for that sense of comfort, but it can also be extremely convenient.
Most days, our schedules can be hectic, and we find ourselves running from one place to another with not enough time in the day. The convenience of telehealth allows you to have one less place you need to carve out time to drive to. This is something I have found be extremely beneficial for busy adults and teens. By using a HIPPA compliant program, I am able to offer confidentiality and privacy to clients right in the comfort of their own homes (or cars or offices). Telehealth allows you to hop into your session wherever you’re at, whether that’s between classes, during a break in the workday, or right when you get home from work or school. This also means that if you live in a small town, you don’t have to take the day off just to go see your therapist. Or for those looking for a therapist that specializes in a specific issue, they have access to more providers that can offer that specialized treatment.
Once in session and comfortable, then comes the work you sought out a therapist to do. In therapy, I use different kinds of interventions to build skills, educate on various topics, and help clients reach the goals we have set together. These interventions can come with worksheets, videos, or other resources that may be available. With telehealth, there is screensharing so instead of hovering around one worksheet or screen, we can collaborate from our own screens. Screensharing works both ways, so clients can also share things with me as well.
So now that you have a little more information, you might be thinking what are the next steps? If you’re interested in telehealth and you’re currently seeing a therapist, I’d encourage you to talk with them about your curiosity. If you’re interested in telehealth and you’re currently looking for a therapist, most providers state whether they offer telehealth in their bios on their sites or on their professional profiles. Psychology Today (psychologytoday.com) is a great resource when looking for provider that shows if a provider offers online or just in-person along with a lot of other things you can filter through. Once you’ve found a provider that you feel may be a good fit, talk with them about telehealth as an option when you reach out to set up services.