Are you considering starting therapy but aren’t sure if teletherapy is the right option for you? You’re not alone. Many people are wondering if the remote alternative is as good as traditional in-person therapy.
In the United States, 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 3 young adults struggled with their mental health in 2020. With 90% of the US population forced to stay at home during the pandemic, teletherapy became a popular choice for many people seeking mental health support.
As of January 2021, 81% of psychiatrists continue to see between 75 – 100% of their patients via remote therapy, with 39% reporting that they have transitioned back to seeing at least some patients in-person.
Different settings aside, how does teletherapy really differ from the in-person setup? Which is more effective as part of mental health treatment? Keep reading below.
What is Teletherapy?
Teletherapy is a form of mental healthcare that is delivered over the internet either through video conferencing or phone calls. Services are offered by licensed mental health professionals who specialize in online counseling and psychotherapy.
The goal of teletherapy is to offer services to people who can’t or don’t want to leave their own home. Teletherapy also allows therapists to help patients diagnosed with mental health issues from wherever they are without a disruption in service.
How Does Online Mental Health Treatment Work?
Online therapy sessions are hosted through virtual meeting platforms or conducted over the phone. The patient will schedule a time for their teletherapy session and connect with their therapist in the same way they would in person.
During the session, both parties can share files and chat. The therapist can help clients address any acute needs and set goals for each session. Depending on the type of therapy, the therapist can work with the client to develop coping skills, build resilience, and handle conflict. Clients can practice in a safe environment during their session and then apply what they learn in therapy to their real life outside of the session.
[Read: The Role of Physical Activity in Recovery]
During teletherapy sessions, patients can share their past experiences, current struggles, and what they hope to achieve from therapy.
Benefits and Disadvantages of Teletherapy
There are many benefits of teletherapy, including:
- Convenience: You can seek treatment from the comfort of your own home without having to travel to your therapist’s office. You have a more flexible option to access therapy in an environment you feel most comfortable.
- Accessibility: The fact that the therapy session is done at the patient’s preferred location and medium also make it accessible to more people, especially those from rural areas who might not be able to travel for in-person sessions.
- Client Privacy: You can discuss sensitive issues without having to worry about others overhearing your mental health issues.
- Cost-effective: The cost of online therapy is usually more affordable than in-person services since you don’t need to travel and pay for the office space of mental healthcare providers. Some health insurances also cover online mental health services.
While many people benefit from online therapy, there are some disadvantages to be aware of:
- Lack of human interaction: The lack of face-to-face interaction can be a problem for people who need personal communication to feel comfortable opening up. Additionally, teletherapy may not be advisable for severe mental illnesses that need more acute in-person care from the providers.
- Limited access to technology: If you don’t have access to the internet, a functioning computer, or a smartphone, you won’t be able to participate in teletherapy sessions.
- Privacy and confidentiality issues: Some patients and even providers find it hard to adjust yet to the modern approach to teletherapy. Others are also doubtful if their data is secured. In addition, external distractions can interrupt telehealth sessions. It might be difficult for you find a location that is confidential if you live with roommates or family. Clinicians must be able to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of their patient’s data. The platforms they’re using should be compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), particularly with HIPAA’s Security Rule and Privacy Rule. Necessary consent forms must be well-explained and signed by the patients.
What is In-Person Therapy?
In-person therapy or traditional therapy is a form of mental health care that is provided face-to-face by licensed professionals in the mental healthcare field. The provider and patient will meet in person where the mental health counseling and therapy will take place.
[Read: How to Find a Treatment Center]
How Does In-Person Therapy Work?
During in-person therapy sessions, the therapist will ask the patient a variety of questions about their life and mental health. The therapist will also give the patient tasks to complete between sessions. These tasks are designed to achieve several treatment goals and help the patient address their issues, alleviate stress and any other symptoms that may negatively impact their mental health, and learn how to navigate the challenges of everyday life with healthy coping mechanisms.
Benefits and Disadvantages of In-Person Therapy
The benefits of in-person therapy are:
- Personal interaction: One of the biggest benefits of in-person therapy is that it offers personal interaction. Your therapist can get to know you on a personal level and build a connection rooted in professionalism and trust.
- Depth of treatment: In-person therapy also allows the clinician to utilize techniques that can only be conducted in a face-to-face setting. For example, a therapist who specializes in Somatic Experiencing can conduct a physical component of therapy and support clients as they revisit a triggering event.
- Controlled environment: In-person mental health services offer a supportive controlled environment, especially to those who participate in group therapy session. This can be helpful for people who struggle with social skills.
The disadvantages of in-person therapy are:
- Limited availability: In-person therapy is not available in all areas. You need to live near the therapist’s office to participate in in-person sessions.
- High cost: Going to your therapist can be expensive. Clients aren’t just paying for the therapist’s expertise; the cost also goes towards overhead expenses like an office space and electricity.
- Time commitment: In-person therapy requires a time commitment from both therapists and patients. The patient needs to be available to meet with the therapist during regular clinic hours and factor travel into the time commitment.
- Stigma: Potential therapy candidates may be uncomfortable visiting a mental health office and interacting with people regarding their conditions.
Which is Better?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. In-person therapy may be better for some people, while telehealth may be better for others.
Some people might choose in-person therapy because they’re concerned about privacy issues. However, most teletherapy providers are compliant with privacy laws, as well as the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations, meaning that all interactions between the therapist and patient are private, secured, and confidential.
Additionally, some people may also choose teletherapy because it is more flexible and convenient for them.
Ultimately, the best way to determine whether in-person or telehealth therapy is right for you is to speak with a therapist. They can help you decide which type of therapy would be best for your needs.
Are you ready for a session? All Points North is the perfect place to start your journey!
All Points North offers a robust teletherapy program to meet your needs. Our clinicians are here to support you with the best mental health therapy customized to your condition all in a nurturing virtual environment.
Don’t wait any longer. Learn more about APN’s teletherapy options and start your journey today!