During a time when an exchange like a handshake remains problematic, many therapists have swiftly transitioned to offering online therapy in order to help individuals continue to foster their mental well-being. Telehealth or online therapy offers an opportunity to connect with a professional who can help you work towards goals established during the in-person therapy process or possibly recover from the mental health effects of this global pandemic.
While online therapy has been around for some time it was most thought of as a resource for individuals who may otherwise have a difficult time attending a traditional in office appointment; such as mothers with young children, those living with physical impairments, or for some located in rural areas. Lately, online therapy has expanded and streamlined access for many beyond these types of constraints who desire psychological support. Online therapy is quickly becoming more of a viable option as most of us who have and continue to experience prolonged emotional difficulties associated with social isolation and uncertainty.
When considering something new, many of us experience or undergo feelings of curiosity: How does this work? What can I expect? Is this vastly different than what I am used to?
While studies have shown that well-designed telehealth therapy can enhance outcomes and be just as effective as in-person therapy; utilizing an online platform for therapy comes with unique considerations. The following are insights from my perspective that I wanted to share as a consistent provider of this emerging service.
- Accessibility – The Internet makes mental health treatment more accessible. Telehealth can be an important tool to help people learn more about psychological health. Access online helps make it easier to overcome stigma that has historically been attached to mental health concerns. For some, online therapy eliminates fears of running into others in the waiting area of a therapy office.
- Convenience – Therapists and clients are corresponding with each other at a range of times that are most convenient based on the premise of the comfort of your own home. Online therapy eliminates the need to determine the amount of time of travel, transportation and parking fares etc.
- Environment – Most therapists are intentional when creating and arranging their office space as the environment affects the therapy process as well. With telehealth, therapists and clients share a responsibility for creating a therapeutic space for session. Beyond aesthetics, consider the aspects of home that are most comfortable. Is this the type of posturing of a chair? Can privacy be achieved in your home?
- Connection – Yes, understandably, learning the methods for troubleshooting can be an important skill in the case of virtual lag or other related technological concerns. But in this case, I am simply referring to the authenticity of the therapeutic relationship. While building or maintaining the therapeutic relationship can actually be achieved more quickly due to an enhanced sense of comfort, vulnerability and disclosure. Naturally, we tend to reveal intimate aspects of our lives that occurs at a different pace, simply from therapy being obtained from home.
Body language also plays a vital role of thoughtfully exploring topics addressed in therapy. These signals give the therapist and client insight into feelings, thoughts and behaviors experienced. Nevertheless, with reliable connectivity, key aspects of body language can be recognized and perceived during online therapy. When treatment meets the goals of the client, understanding what else goes into communication can help determine what someone may be thinking or feeling.
As the practice of therapy continues to evolve, discussing and examining methods of treatment can help individuals learn more about themselves. I am reminded daily how this pandemic has challenged my own as well as my clients’ expectations and personal growth in a time in which much as been changed. The choice to pursue online therapy can help to achieve or maintain your optimal psychological health.
Lindsay Enright, MS, LCMFT provides family, couple, and individual therapy in our Bethesda office and virtually to clients in the state of Maryland. Please call or email today to set up your first appointment or a complimentary consultation with Lindsay.