Teletherapy: What Does It Mean, How It Works, and the Benefits

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When online chatting via camera became a thing in the 90s, many people grabbed the opportunity to work online – including mental health workers. The beginnings of online therapies provoked many questions that we’re happy to answer.

Many patients are skeptical about joining online therapies because they question the effects or simply because they feel uncomfortable. 

Thought that you were the only one? You’re not.

In this text, we’re clearing the fog on Teletherapies and the questions it evokes. So, without further ado, let’s get the first one!

What is Teletherapy?

Teletherapy has the same practice model as regular therapy sessions, except that it’s based online instead of face-to-face. In teletherapy or online therapy, e-therapy, or video therapy – you have an online session with your therapists or counselor over the computer. It’s basically the same as FaceTiming your friends.

Ever since the 1990s, when Teletherapy first appeared, it got quickly adopted by the audience. Many patients found this method even more practical than face-to-face because they were in their safe zone, at home, and still worked on improving their mental health. 

Teletherapy doesn’t have a local restriction, and patients on this side of the world meet virtually with therapists on the other side. Patients had the opportunity to find quality therapists in real-time and outside their geolocation. 

Let’s see how they made everything work smoothly and effectively.

How Do Tele-Sessions Work?

Online therapy has the same approach as offline therapy – only the client and the therapist aren’t in the same room. The opportunity to work remotely in the mental health sector brought two possible ways of realization – synchronized and unsynchronized sessions.

Synchronized Online Sessions

In this module, the therapist and the patient are both connected online at the same time. Both the therapist and the patient agree to meet online regardless of the difference in time zones, if any. Once they meet, the therapy flows as if both of them were in the same room. The therapists would ask questions, take notes, and lead the session using the same methods as their physical offices.

Unsynchronized Online Sessions

This module is more like a homework plan. The therapists usually give some kind of “homework” like meditations, writing journals, or coloring, where the patient must put effort on their own. Also, the therapist might recommend reading a book or getting informed on their illness, etc.

The unsynchronized sessions usually go with the synchronized therapists treating them as self-effort. Sessions won’t work unless the patient is willing to step outside their comfort zone and put effort into bettering their mental well-being.

Patients must complete their homework so that the therapist can track the patient’s improvement. Not finishing their duty is also feedback. So, the mix of these two methods practically makes online sessions work.

Online Therapies: Who is it For?

Online therapies are typically associated with people suffering from depression, anxiety, or other psychological distress. This is true – but it doesn’t have to define them.

Online therapies are suitable for patients with speech difficulties. Patients can easily follow the therapy and practice their speech as they normally would by meeting in real-time. On the other hand, parents with hyperactive children find this opportunity even better. They will hold sessions without having to go through all the tantrums.

Ultimately, people suffering from mental distress also find this convenient. Usually, it’s always the room and the act of going to therapy that scares depressed people. It confirms their fears that there’s something wrong with them. In this case scenario, they won’t feel any different because they will practically talk to their therapist straight from home.

Teletherapy Privilege for Patients and Therapists

As mentioned, Teletherapy creates a comfy environment for patients. It establishes a healthy friend-to-friend relationship instead of a “hostile” therapist-to-patient.

Additionally, patients have a broader range to connect with qualified therapists online. And, they won’t have to wait for their turn, hoping they won’t run into someone they know.

As for therapists, they have flexible working hours. That borrows therapists some time to relax and clear their minds from negative energy. Furthermore, they have the opportunity to improve career-wise. The internet offers a great opportunity to connect therapists with patients that will challenge them. Therapists will have to put greater effort but still – help someone that needs it the most.

Teletherapy Privacy

Therapists have ethical and professional bound to hold their sessions and the data they collect privately. In that sense, they must ensure the environment where they hold sessions is private.

Recording the sessions is not allowed unless the patient consents to. Since we’re speaking of a virtual environment, sometimes both patients and therapists must leave voice messages as an alternative communication medium. Afterward, the therapist can save or delete them, but that entirely depends on the patient’s will.

However, considering the sessions are held online – both patients and therapists are accountable for securing the environment.

In light of all facts, both physical and virtual therapies have their pros and cons, with the virtual one definitely standing out in certain aspects!

John S. - Editor in Chief

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