With technology changing and advancing, the option of video conferencing with a therapist has become more popular than ever. With this technology and change in the therapeutic process, many clinicians and clients have questioned the effectiveness of working through their mental health concerns with a screen.
According to the article by Tutty, Spangler, Poppleton, and Simon (2010) on "Evaluating The Effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Teletherapy in Depressed Adults," 69% of clients were very satisfied with their eight computer based sessions. With an additional 42% of clients in "recovery" at the time that the sessions concluded. Tutty et al. (2010) stated that similar results were indicated when other research was conducted on the topic.
Not all therapy styles are created equal. Similarly, not all methods are meant for every client. For some, teletherapy would not be an appropriate means for therapeutic services due to the nature and symptoms that the individual may be feeling. For example, if a client was currently experiencing homicidal or suicidal thoughts, then teletherapy would not be appropriate at that time. When working with a therapist, you can have a thorough discussion about expectations on teletherapy and determine if teletherapy would be an appropriate fit for you.
pdatedFor many, teletherapy is extremely convenient and accessible. The therapist should provide a HIPPA compliant platform in order for you to communicate privately and securely. Teletherapy may be a perfect option for those who travel frequently, new parents, individuals who do not have local resources, straining work schedules, etc. At it's best, it allows an opportunity for individuals to connect with their therapist in a secure and comforting way. Other advantages may include a lower service fee, flexibility in scheduling time, save time on commute, and possibility of feeling more comfortable in own home or office.
For others, teletherapy is not the way in which they would prefer to receive their therapeutic services. They might feel disconnected from the therapist, worry about the internet connection, or have concerns about who may be hearing them on the computer if someone is home or near them in the office. Many people crave or need the face to face connection of meeting with the clinician. Some therapeutic forms are impossible to use over the computer (i.e. art therapy, play therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy, etc.)
Whether your looking to have sessions via computer or visit a therapist in their office; I recommend you ask potential clinicians questions about expectations and therapeutic style. We want you to have the best experience and learn so you can have very fulfilling lives. Not all therapists have both options for in office or via technology. Most therapists can only work with individuals that reside in their state. As a consumer, you may want to ask what state they live in and learn if their teletherapy platform is HIPPA compliant. The goal is to find a clinician who meets your individual needs and whom you can feel comfortable and safe working with.
Updated November 2019:
Teletherapy is also referred too as telehealth or telemedicine. For the most effective connection, an electronic such as a phone, tablet, or computer with camera access and high speed internet is needed. The platform is usually provided directly from the Therapist or the Therapist's company. However, it's important that the Client chooses a location where they feel they can openly communicate during the session time.
Megan Bowling, M.A., LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Evaluating the Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Teletherapy in Depressed Adults. Steve Tutty, Diane L. Spangler, Landon E. Poppleton, Evette J. Ludman, and Gregory E. Simon. Behavior Therapy; Volume 41, Issue 2, Pages 229-236. Published June 2010.