Teletherapy COVID-19 Coronavirus


Q: What is Teletherapy

A: Teletherapy is the online delivery of mental health therapy services via high-resolution, live video conferencing. Teletherapy sessions are very similar to mental health sessions with one major exception. Instead of sitting in the same room, clients and therapists interact via live video conferencing

Due to the rising concerns of the Coronavirus, we would like to remind you that we do offer Teletherapy services.

Psychology Today lists several benefits of Teletherapy, click to learn more:

One of the biggest challenges facing prospective therapy clients is that initial appointment.  Statistics indicate the modal number of sessions attended by clients is: one.  That’s right, patients will go to one session and never go back again.  Theories abound—the experience was awful, there was not a fit with the therapist, or the most self-satisfied of them all- the therapist was so highly effective that they managed to “cure” their client in one majestic session (likely not the case).  How does telehealth fit in?  An easy way to describe it is this—all those things you hate about your dentist waiting room?  They apply in therapy as well.  Finding the office, sitting, anxiously counting down the time, waiting for your name to be called.  With teletherapy, it’s almost always in the comfort of your own home.  You can have your cozy blanket, your special mug, all the things that make you feel at ease.  What better start to therapy and opening up than in your safe space?

While this can certainly vary depending on geographical location and the diversity of clients seen by a therapist, teletherapy ensures maximal privacy every time.  As one who specializes in teens and young adults, I have found more than once that my clients (even going to different schools and residing in different cities) manage to know one another.  I have walked in (and out of my office) on more than one occasion witnessing awkward small talk between these clients who knew each other in kindergarten or who are mortal enemies.  With social media anymore, everyone is connected.  While I have often managed to help teens find the silver lining of running into acquaintances (we all have issues, therapy is normalized), teletherapy removes this concern altogether.

Time is perhaps our most precious resource.  As such, commutes can be frustrating and stressful for clients already prone to anxiety.  Unexpected traffic closures often lead clients to race in, anxious about being late or missing any part of their therapy time.  In one scenario I had a patient get into a car accident on the way over to see me.  Needless to say, our conversation that session wound up focusing on something entirely different than what we had intended.  With enough on their brimming plates, the last thing clients need to worry about is one more place to be.  And for that matter, one extra cost if parking tickets or accidents are involved.

Relatedly, teletherapy allows for maximal flexibility for overworked and overcommitted clients.  Having worked with many high achieving populations who are at the verge of mental breakdowns, those who need services the most often have the least time.  Being able to reschedule and integrate emergency sessions impacts the therapist and caseload at large minimally.  Although of course high severity patients should rarely be seen in outpatient situations without extra staff support, for clients with severe anxiety that is otherwise well managed, the ability to schedule an emergency check-in can be invaluable.

Across much of the nation, severe winter weather can put a kink in plans.  In Oregon where an inch of snow shuts down the city, snow days can wreak havoc on scheduling.  Some clients are stranded on mountain tops, others have four-wheel drive and trek their way to an office that closed down hours ago.  Such concerns are eliminated in teletherapy.  Further, there is no expectation that clients leave their homes in dangerous weather, there are no late cancellation fees, or consideration of what school districts are opened or closed.  With teletherapy, the show can go on, each time. 

It is not uncommon for teens with heavy workloads and many pressures to repeatedly succumb to illnesses.  I have had clients with severe flus and viruses (often actively contagious) come in which puts me and by extension my other patients at risk.  Further, illness often can cause additional last minute cancellations while mood plummets.  The ability for clients to continue working with their therapist, especially when ill, can be highly impactful.  Teletherapy makes it safe for both clients and therapists.

When sessions begin at the click of a button, timeliness is certainly improved.  Without the concern of a traffic jam, getting lost on their way to the office, or running low on gas, it is a no-brainer that timeliness is significantly improved when clients are always in reach of their devices.

Like many therapists working independently, prior to moving to a full-time virtual practice, I rented a space in an executive office suite.  While there were front desk staff servicing the floor, they also represented dozens of other entities from lawyers to accountants to real estate agents.  With high turnover on their staff, messages were often missed, and information was not always clearly articulated (such as the time I was told a patient came in for me on a day I was not scheduled- there was no name, number, nothing leaving me guessing who on my caseload came in for an appointment!).  Removing the middleman so to speak eases communication significantly and improves the overall therapeutic experience.

Clients that normally travel long distances to the office can benefit from not having that additional travel time and safety issue in the stormy seasons

In many scenarios, those who are bedridden, have chronic illness or otherwise can be major beneficiaries of online treatment options.  There are times when clients suffering from IBS, Crohn’s or other diseases may experience shame or embarrassment at their need for leaving to use facilities.  In an online context, some of these concerns can be diminished significantly. 

There is no waiting in the lobby, your appointment time is set and will start at that time. This enables you to better plan your day and can help squeeze in an appointment when you could not otherwise make it to the office.