Audrey Oxenhorn, MSW
Is Tele-Mental Health A Viable & Successful Option Now?
Yes, I believe that it is. There are so many reasons that telehealth is a great idea. Everything has changed and will continue to do so. The predictability factor in our current lives has diminished and we need to create a new pattern for our lives. It seems to be time to question everything that is important to us. And technology is our future. It feels very important to embrace it when it works so well.
Am I happy with the way I am currently receiving therapy?
Is it working?
Would virtual therapy change my life enough to start shaking up my other habits?
Am I stuck in thinking that I have to see someone in person to really get the help?
Then we can look at the opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint, save time, increase flexibility, try something new, and get great value.
Please consider that we have so many distractions when we go into the therapeutic office. This is a way to get to the heart of the matter more quickly.
As a mental health provider, I have offered this virtual option for several years. In my practice, virtual means using the technology of facetime, skype, and phone to conduct sessions. The sessions are conducted in the same way, same time frame, and similar productive outcomes.
15 Benefits Of Online Counseling
1. You are physically healthier and safer in your home in the time of the pandemic. How we will move forward is yet to be determined so this is a fabulous way to continue to receive the help that you need.
2. No commute –saving significant time and energy
3. No sensory distractions- variable temperatures, perfumes, essential oils, cleaning products, and textures that interfere with being comfortable.
4. Easier to be forthcoming since you are not in the same room. If you are sensitive, you may get caught up in what your therapist wants you to say instead of what is true for you.
5. You can hang up if you are done and therefore have some control over the session.
6. You have greater comfort in your own home or safe environment.
7. You can share your favorite artwork, safe space, or garden if desired.
8. You can introduce your pets, children, and other family members to your therapist.
9. Greater scheduling flexibility.
10. Technology for telehealth works well. ie.facetime, skype, or phone.
11. There is very little initial chit chat about commute etc. and therefore you get to the heart of the session more quickly.
12. It allows for greater directness in the session.
13. Clients feel more comfortable online.
Ie. Most Teens and millennials prefer the ease of telehealth sessions.
14. Easier to use creative techniques since you are in your own space with your own supplies.
15. You can take notes. Sometimes as much as 50% of the session is not absorbed so writing things down is really helpful.
Challenges of online counseling
1. Finding a safe, quiet place to talk- this necessitates some planning especially if you live with other people.
2. Discomfort with technology
3. No visible body language- sometimes, clients and therapists need to see the body language to know what is going on.
4. Miss the physical space of the therapist’s office.
5. Miss waiting in the waiting room.
6. Miss the traffic.
7. You have to build in your own time to prepare and can’t use the commute to get ready.
8. Feel more comfortable in person.
It is really an individual choice. I like having the option to offer both online and in-office sessions to my clients. However, after having experienced years of telehealth, I feel that the sessions can be even more effective than those in person. Both of us are focused, direct, and sensing the deeper issues in a shorter amount of time. I would encourage you to give it a chance. You might really like it!