What is Online Teletherapy?
Teletherapy is the online delivery of counseling and mental health therapy services via high-resolution, live video conferencing. Teletherapy sessions are very similar to traditional speech, occupational therapy, or mental health sessions. Instead of sitting in the same room, clients and therapists interact via live video conferencing. This allows more flexible schedules and appointments for therapy sessions. Most importantly, it's just as effective as regular therapy sessions while protecting privacy. Also, those who feel more comfortable staying in their homes may be a better option for teletherapy.
Better Your Health through Teletherapy
Clients and patients using teletherapy enjoy distinct benefits. First and foremost, many people have difficulty accessing in-person psychotherapy due to a lack of transportation, trouble finding or affording childcare for their appointment, their location, and illnesses or disabilities.
Some people have severe phobias or family obligations that prevent them from leaving their houses. Others may have compromised immune systems or provide care for vulnerable populations.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, the benefits are particularly significant. Many restrictions and the guidelines had to be followed and both therapists and patients were able to meet those guidelines through teletherapy.
Teletherapy Mental Health
In general, teletherapy sessions work exactly the same as traditional therapy. Patients schedule individually with a therapist for a live video appointment. Patients should plan ahead and prepare just as they would for an in-person session. If it’s your first appointment, be sure to have relevant records and information available, including prescriptions, and a list of questions to address.
In addition to one-on-one therapy sessions, teletherapy can also be used to deliver other types of counseling. This includes group, family, and marriage counseling. Just like online therapy for an individual, patients can use video communication technology to meet in groups, or as a family or couple, to take part in therapist-mediated sessions. These sessions are conducted just as they would be if everyone were together in the same room.
Is Teletherapy As Effective As In-Person Treatment?
You might be wondering if teletherapy is as effective as regular in-person visits to your therapist. The answer is, for most patients, yes. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association states, “Telemedicine in psychiatry is a validated and effective practice of medicine that increases access to care.” Studies have also shown that telepsychiatry can be more beneficial for certain patients, especially those who feel uncomfortable in a clinical or unfamiliar setting.
Teletherapy can help some patients feel more relaxed and willing to share their thoughts and feelings. Being inside the comfort of their own home can make a huge difference for certain individuals’ comfort levels. For some patients, the use of technology may seem like a hurdle. However, as technology improves and people become more familiar and comfortable with video communication, teletherapy will become more prevalent and accessible.
Of course, teletherapy does have some limitations. Certain types of therapy, such as play therapy for children, are limited by telehealth. However, online play therapy is offered in some cases that is also effective.
Some people may be familiar with the term telehealth, but many people may not know how far it extends or even the correct definition. Telehealth can come in a variety of forms but, as a whole, it refers to any type or a portion of medical care provided through technology. Telehealth is most commonly known as a method by which doctors are beginning to treat patients. However, many people do not know that this option is starting to become more highly used by occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech therapists.2
Telehealth can come in the form of patients watching videos of exercises they are to complete at home. Some facilities may use secure computer programs to exchange text messages/emails with patients to increase adherence to home recommendations. One of the most common uses of telehealth that most people are not aware of is a shared online portal for health records.3
Each of these technologies comes with their own nuances; however, they all serve to make the job of a health professional much easier. More importantly, all forms of telehealth have a common goal of ensuring equal access to health resources.
Types of Teletherapy
Telehealth for therapists is more commonly known as teletherapy. Physical therapy has started expanding the amount of orthopedic teletherapy services they provide. This includes treatment of muscle sprains, joint replacements, fractures, and more.
Speech therapy has entered the teletherapy sector in the form of pediatric services, mainly through the school system and home-based services.
Occupational therapy has begun serving the teletherapy arena in settings such as outpatient mental health, home health, and school-based pediatric rehab.
All treatments provided will vary based on the discipline of therapy you are receiving (occupational, physical, or speech therapy) and the type of diagnoses which you possess (orthopedic, neurological, sensory integration).