Have you heard about online therapy? Wondered what it is all about and if it’s right for you? Let’s talk!
WHAT EXACTLY IS ONLINE THERAPY?
Let’s start at the beginning. Online therapy can mean several things. There are companies out there advertising text and chat therapy, some companies offering video therapy and some offering a combination of both. It can be called e-therapy, online therapy, video therapy or telehealth. This new way of practicing therapy is growing at a fast pace. Let’s break it down to better understand what it all means and what might be the best fit for you.
As a therapist, my journey into online therapy started a little over a year ago. Previously, I provided traditional, face to face therapy in an office. I was at a place in life where I was looking for more flexibility and I have always been someone who enjoys learning about new ways of doing things. When I heard about online therapy, I was curious, it piqued my interest. I decided to dig in, learn more about it and see what it was all about. From that day on, I was hooked. I loved it, and even more importantly, my clients loved it. What’s not to love about making therapy easier for people to access and something that fits into one's life.
I wanted to learn as much as I could about providing safe and simple online therapy for my clients. I received a certificate in Telehealth at the Zur Institute, I took classes focused on online security, ethics and more. I learned and committed to learning everything under the sun about protecting client privacy when conducting video therapy. I gathered and implemented the technology, software and partners required to ensure privacy and meeting current required privacy standards in mental health.
When I first started exploring the different types of therapeutic delivery options, I tried chat and text therapy, as well as video therapy. I came to realize that for my practice (Grit and Grace), video therapy would be my focus. For me, the one-on-one personal interaction was important and I wanted to be able to create a strong connection and to SEE my clients when I was working with them. I felt this format fit my practice and therapeutic style well. Additionally, video therapy is backed by peer reviewed research and shows positive outcomes that compare and at times exceed traditional therapy.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
I see my clients, face to face via encrypted video. We have a set appointment time and conduct therapy in the same way we would if we were in an office.
When a client and I meet over video, we set up an initial in-depth intake, where we get to know each other, learn more about the client’s background, develop a treatment plan and talk about how we will know when it’s time to wrap up therapy. After that initial intake, we set up regular weekly sessions. When used regularly clients start to feel the relief of weekly support, and find that by addressing their challenges, they move forward in working toward their goals.
WHO IS ONLINE/VIDEO THERAPY FOR?
Video therapy works well for those busy folks who are looking for something flexible and convenient. They are seeking additional support and don’t want the hassle of fitting in another appointment. They have a comfortable, private space to participate, with a secure internet connection and a basic comfort with technology.
At Grit and Grace, I work exclusively online, with professional women who are struggling with stress, anxiety, perfectionism and self-doubt. I also partner with women who are looking to looking to strengthen their coping skills and gain a better understand what is getting in their way of them being happy.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF ONLINE THERAPY?
Evidence shows that video therapy can work for all types of people. Therapists and Doctors have been practicing telehealth for years. In fact, the Department of Veterans Affairs is one of the largest providers of telemental health in the country. Many traditional practices are increasingly going hybrid. That is, after seeing a therapist in person for an intake visit, you have the option to continue your treatment over video. As you can see, more and more providers are using video for therapy.
Let’s break down the benefits:
● Flexibility and convenience - online therapy allows for connecting from the comfort of your own home, at a time that is convenient for you. Many of the folks I work with, also find ways to fit it in to their work day. They work from home, or they find a private space to do it on their lunch break. Some brave souls even do it early – before they go to work.
● More comfortable – you can have your cup of tea, your dog and your pajamas if that makes you comfortable. I love all the animals that join my therapy sessions. In fact, my dog Josie is often curled at my feet as well.
● Lower hassle factor – no fighting traffic, finding parking, or driving across town
● Some folks find that it’s easier to be more vulnerable and authentic when connecting from their own home. An online session may feel less daunting.
● No anxiety about bumping into someone you know when you are at therapy
● Increased access – video therapy opens access to therapy services for those who have limited options in their area. You can choose from any therapist licensed in your state, opening the door to a larger selection of therapists with the expertise that you are specifically looking for
● Online therapy provides accessibility to individuals who have physical limitations and may find it hard to come in.
● Expats and those living abroad can access a therapist in the US
WHO ISN'T A GOOD FIT FOR ONLINE THERAPY?
● Online Therapy is typically not appropriate for those with serious psychiatric illnesses or for those who are in extreme crisis that require close and direct treatment. This is because those individuals struggling with serious mental illness, substance abuse or suicidality really benefit from in person contact and monitoring.
Of course, there are some new challenges with come with video therapy.
● Privacy of your information and confidentiality: Keeping your personal information private, is the law in psychotherapy. Providers must, utilize HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliant, encrypted technology and platforms. Risks and potential breaches should be discussed with all clients prior to treatment.
● Technology challenges: Video therapy, is simple. I use Zoom in my practice, which allows people to go straight from the calendar invite into a session. Payment, scheduling and everything is smooth and automatic. However, for some providers technical issues such as internet connection strength or problems with the video platform can be a small frustration. It is important that the provider have a communicated plan in place that allows for a session to continue, even if there is a technical challenge. At Grit and Grace, we have a backup plan clearly communicated- meaning we can continue our work, despite potential challenges.
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FROM USING VIDEO THERAPY
Participation in therapy can result in many benefits, including increased insight into your patterns of feeling, thinking, behaving and relating to others; improvement in your relationships; solutions to specific problems you bring forward in therapy; and improvement in symptoms of distress. Additional therapeutic benefits may include:
● Support without judgement
● Decreased anxiety, depression and low mood
● Increased coping and stress management skills
● Decreased perfectionism
● Lower levels of self-doubt, over thinking and self-limiting beliefs
● Improved communications skills
● Deeper relationships
● Improved self-care
WHAT ARE YOUR NEXT STEPS?
Think that online therapy is right for you? I would recommend doing your research. What expertise are you looking for? What type of online therapy feels like a good fit? If you find a potential therapist, are they licensed in your state and experienced in providing online therapy?
I would be happy to schedule a free consultation if Video Therapy with Grit and Grace sounds like a good fit. Better yet, if you are curious, request the consultation be over video, so you can get a feel for it. Visit www.gritandgrace.io.