Mary Alvord, psychologist from Maryland who teaches telehealth to mental health professionals, Jay Shore, Ph.D., psychiatrist and director of telemedicine at the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, and Lisa Henderson, a licensed professional counselor from the American Counseling Association, offers these pros and cons for online therapy. Other sources for this advice include Psychology Today and the American Psychological Association.
Bypasses mental health stigma. “For people who are stigmatized, especially if they live in a tight-knit community, parking their cars outside of a counseling center or therapy office can really violate their privacy,” says Henderson. “But online therapy is really low-key and can protect people’s privacy and confidentiality so that in person [therapy] just can’t.
Convenience and security. If you can’t travel safely in inclement weather, or can’t make time out of your workday to get to a mental health professional’s office, a virtual tour can be a good substitute.
Feeling of intimacy. Shore says some patients may prefer their familiar home environment to an “artificial clinical environment.” Henderson echoes these sentiments. “In some ways the video is more intimate than being in the same room because we’re in each other’s space,” she says. “You might be in my office, but it’s my home, so I feel like I’m at home just like I’m at your house.” It really fills a gap, instead of being on my land when you walk into my office.
Similar results. According to Shore, in-person and video tours can potentially yield similar results. Henderson agrees, “We are seeing as much, if not more, improvements in online therapy settings. From apples to apples, from in-person therapy to telehealth, there really is no difference between which is more effective.
Easier access. For people who live far from the nearest therapist’s office or counseling center, online therapy can be an easily accessible alternative.
Little or no waiting time. A virtual appointment can start on time while an office appointment can be delayed by paperwork and other bureaucratic hurdles.
Non-verbal communication. A therapist may not pick up on a patient’s non-verbal cues during a virtual appointment. Alvord explains that much of our communication is non-verbal. However, Henderson points out that the proximity of the camera lens during video appointments can provide more visual communication through facial expressions than an in-person appointment where a greater physical distance exists between the therapist and the therapist. the customer.
Limited effectiveness for some. Some patients, such as some children or people with autism spectrum disorders, may not respond well to virtual therapy, notes Alvord. Patients with dementia or other cognitive problems may also not do well in virtual sessions without modifications, such as a caregiver being with the patient, Shore says.
Technology. Some patients’ homes may not be equipped with high-speed internet service, or the patient may not be comfortable with the technology, making virtual therapy difficult or impossible to perform.
Insurance cover. In some cases, your health insurance provider may cover an in-person therapy session but may not cover a virtual session. However, these policies are constantly changing, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Speak with an agent from your insurance company to confirm what your coverage currently includes.