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Teletherapy: The Pros and Cons of This New Therapy Trend

Teletherapy is an increasingly popular way for people to get help. Find out whether it might be the right option for you.

Teletherapy is a growing option for people to get help with their mental health

It allows for greater access to counselors, especially for people who don’t have reliable transportation, live rurally, have mobility issues, or are uncomfortable outside of their own homes. 

We explain all the details below!

What is Teletherapy?

Teletherapy is a type of therapy where a client meets with a licensed therapist remotely through a secure video or audio call. 

In theory, they receive the same service as they would in an in-person session, and the therapist is still held to the same legal and ethical standards of their profession. 

While it does require the patient to have a secure internet connection, a private place to talk, and a phone, tablet, or computer, teletherapy can help people that would otherwise have trouble getting to a therapist’s office

While forms of teletherapy have been around since the 1960s in the form of phone calls, teletherapy has increased drastically in popularity since the pandemic.

 Before the lockdown, rates of people seeking therapy remotely were only 4.4%. 

During the lockdown, this skyrocketed to 60%. Since the end of the lockdown, the rates have decreased to 22% but are still over four times higher than pre-Covid levels. 

Benefits of Teletherapy For the Client

Teletherapy provides multiple benefits for clients that may not be available with traditional, in-person therapy.

Those benefits include increased access to licensed therapists, particularly for people who:

  • Live rurally
  • Have mobility issues
  • Have issues finding or affording childcare
  • Lack of access to reliable transportation
  • Have an illness that makes it difficult to leave home
  • Have phobias that make it difficult to leave the house
  • Are immunocompromised or care for someone who is vulnerable

Also, it allows patients to continue therapy amidst lockdowns.

Clients may feel more comfortable speaking about sensitive issues from the comfort of their homes.

And perhaps most importantly of all, It takes less time out of the day for those with busy schedules

Benefits of Teletherapy For the Therapist

It also provides certain benefits to the therapist as well.

For example, it allows more therapists to work remotely, which gives them more flexibility in their schedules, allows parents more time at home with their children, and cuts down on commuting time.

It also spares therapists the expense of renting an office, and keeps them safe during disease outbreaks, while still remaining able to work.

Limitations, Risks, and Disadvantages of Teletherapy

For the Client

While there are benefits to teletherapy, it unfortunately also carries certain risks and disadvantages for the client as well. These include:

  • It requires the client to have the technology to access the therapy. This typically means a phone, tablet, or computer that works reliably, and a reliable internet connection.
  • Less human connection than in traditional face-to-face sessions can make it more challenging for clients to open up. Some clients may be in need of closer contact due to issues with loneliness.
  • Staying home may be part of the issue they are seeking help for.
  • Some clients may have trouble leaving the house due to depression, anxiety, or phobias. Doing another activity remotely that would typically get them out of the house may make the issue worse. 
  • Some clients may have trouble getting privacy at home.
  • Some homes may be noisy or distracting for a session.
  • Some people may feel unsafe in their home, making it not an ideal place for therapy

For the Therapist

Disadvantaged for the therapist can include: 

  • Having to deal with technical issues during sessions.
  • They may struggle to get privacy from family during sessions.
  • May have distractions or noise in their homes.
  • There is an expectation for them to be more available outside of normal work hours.
  • As with anyone working remotely, they may find it difficult to separate work time and leisure/family time. 

How Does a Teletherapy Session Work?

Once you have found a teletherapist to work with, either through a therapist’s office or from a website especially offering these services, they will have you fill in questions before you get started to make sure it is a good match

Then, once the paperwork is complete, they will set you up an initial appointment with the therapist. You will agree on a time, and they will give you the information you need to get started. 

This will include the program required for the video or audio call. 

If a video call is possible for you, this is the better option, as being able to pick up on body language can help both the therapist and the client. 

Video has been shown to give better outcomes for patients versus phone calls. 

You will want to download and test the software well in advance to make sure it works. This includes ensuring you have a strong internet connection that will not drop during your session. 

Before your session, you should have some notes about what you want to talk about, and the goals you have for therapy. 

You should make sure you are set up somewhere comfortable in your house, that it is quiet and private, and that your device is fully charged. 

It is also a good idea to have your phone handy in case you do have technical issues with your computer, the connection, or with the software. 

This way, the therapist can call you so you can work it out! You may also want to set up a backup plan for when things go wrong, ahead of time. 

Who Can Provide Teletherapy?

The requirements for teletherapy are the same as for any in-person therapy session. 

However, it’s essential to check that you are getting teletherapy from an actual therapist, and not someone out for an easy buck. 

Many websites and apps are being developed to try and cash in this massive market

Things can get tricky when people are delivering services not only from other states, but other countries as well! 

The standards and requirements may not always match, so it’s important to do your research. 

How Much Does Teletherapy Cost?

As with any therapist, the cost of counseling can vary dramatically from therapist to therapist. 

Therapists will charge the same rate as their in-person sessions, as they are still providing the same service. 

Therefore, $200 a session or more is still a possibility for an experienced, high-demand therapist. 

Some insurance companies will cover teletherapy in the same way as in-person therapy, but it’s important to confirm this before your first session. 

Before 2020, there had been many reports of insurance companies refusing to cover treatments done remotely altogether, or limiting the circumstances that a client can use these services. 

Luckily, since the implementation of stay-at-home orders, insurance companies have been forced to adapt

Many apps and websites offer services for around $60 a session- and some for even less with messaging-only options. 

Consider what your needs are, and make sure the company has a good reputation and uses only licensed therapists.

Summing Up

Teletherapy, also known as remote therapy, is a type of therapy that is provided using technology. This can include video conferencing, phone calls, text messaging, and email.

Its main benefit is that teletherapy allows people to receive treatment from a licensed therapist without having to travel to a clinic or office.

Teletherapy is gaining in popularity, and is a great option for certain people. 

Tech-savvy busy people with homes they feel comfortable in and offer them privacy and quiet may love being able to have therapy remotely. 

Remote therapy can open the door to treatment for many that couldn’t access it, but it can also close the door for others. 

For many, that in-person-environment may make all the difference when getting the help they need.

Consider your individual needs when deciding whether teletherapy is right for you.

Thanks for reading!

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Carlos Trejo

Carlos Trejo

En español: Carlos Trejo es un estudiante de posgrado e investigador residente en Austin, Texas. Estudiante desde hace mucho tiempo de todo lo espiritual y filosófico, actualmente está trabajando para convertirse en psicólogo, así como en periodista.

English: Carlos Trejo is a graduate student and researcher based in Austin, Texas. A long-term student of all things spiritual and philosophical, he is currently working on becoming a psychologist as well as a journalist.