As a result of COVID-19, there has been a sharp increase in the availability of psychotherapy services through telehealth. Social distancing guidelines and concern regarding the physical safety of psychotherapy clients have brought on a positive and effective evolution in accessibility to mental health services.
Although, broadly speaking, this is beneficial, we must also be especially mindful when engaging in psychological services online or over-the-phone and acknowledge that this may look and feel different compared to in-person treatment. While the possible drawbacks of telehealth can be overcome, it is important to be mindful of both the benefits and risks of engaging in this type of service in order to maximize success for our clients.
What is telepsychology?
Telepsychology is the practice of psychological services through telehealth. Most psychotherapy and supportive counseling can be delivered through telephone or video conferencing.
Remote psychological services can be greatly beneficial for many people, depending on individual needs and can help us overcome barriers to accessibility that can exist for in-person sessions. For example, engaging in telepsychology can help overcome scheduling conflicts and other barriers that hinder clients from seeking out mental health care.
Telepsychology offers many advantages and studies have found that, when implemented correctly and appropriately, it is just as effective as in-person therapy. (See links to studies below for information)
How can it help me?
Telepsychology may be for you if you know that you are struggling with challenges either emotionally, psychologically, or behaviorally, and are finding it difficult to make time for in-person appointments.
Psychological services provided over-the-phone or over encrypted video conferencing services can reduce the amount of time clients spend traveling to and from a physical office space and often allow for more flexible scheduling options (e.g. the ability to schedule appointments outside of standard office hours or more easily during the work day).
Therapy through telehealth can also be useful for individuals who have established in-person care, but can no longer attend sessions in the office regularly due to changes in schedules or travel. This method of treatment delivery provides the option for greater flexibility around a client’s schedule and can work to increase adherence to treatment over time.
While the benefits of telepsychology may seem simple, it is extremely important to take the time to discuss all of the risks and benefits of telehealth with your provider prior to engaging in remote therapy.
These discussions may include assessments of your comfort level in using required technology, the nature of topics being discussed with your therapist, and your ability to find an appropriate space to take telephone calls or video-conferences.
Planning with your therapist ahead of time about what would work best for you and your therapeutic experience can help to optimize treatment outcomes and minimize risks.
How to access care?
With the ongoing global pandemic, there are a large number of therapists that are now offering mental health care through telehealth, but not everyone has had extensive training in this area of practice. Therapists often list their availability for online or remote therapy services on the websites or on their directory profiles.
Ideally, clients seeking this form of therapy should pursue therapists that are experienced in providing remote services, particularly if they are considering taking part in telepsychology in the long-term.
If you would like more information on our Telepsychology services at Coronado Psych, please do not hesitate to contact us at 619-554-0120, firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here to schedule an initial consultation.