Posted on March 24, 2020
Whether you have a history of Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Depression, or you’re feeling pangs of intense fear, anxiety and depression for the first time, mental health is of the utmost importance during this time. The feelings of loneliness, overwhelm and fear that arise from isolation and this new world of social distancing can have detrimental long term effects on your health and well-being if left untreated. However, the effects of social distancing can be minimized with therapy.
Seeing a therapist is among one the many routine daily events that have suddenly been uprooted. Thankfully, teletherapy is an option. If your therapist didn’t offer this as part of their therapy services before, they certainly will start soon now that social contact is being discouraged. Psychotherapists and patients alike are often skeptical about teletherapy, mostly wondering about whether it’s as effective as face to face as the practice intends. Can your weekly therapy session have the same level of impact and efficacy through a screen? Although we believe that in-person sessions are extremely valuable, the short answer here is yes. And, especially in light of the recent global health crisis, it’s critical to leverage the resources we have, like our therapy matching service, to help you seek out support during social distancing.
Whether or not telepathy is part of your current therapy, or you’re interested in seeking out therapy for the first time, the recent recommendations on reduced social interaction are making it a great alternative and resource. Read on to learn more about the benefits of online therapy during this time of social distancing.
Telepsychology, telemental health, online therapy, and virtual therapy are all different names for this online practice. Teletherapy allows a patient to seek out mental health services when they physically can not be in a room with a therapist. This can be done in real-time using a video chat platform, taking a phone call, or via email and text message. During a time of social distancing, this can be very beneficial for those who still need mental health services.
Even outside of special circumstances, many people really enjoy teletherapy. We can all relate to long commutes and busy schedules. Finding room to make regular appointments (on time) can be difficult. In fact, inconvenience often prevents people from getting therapy that may be really struggling with their mental wellness. Teletherapy is definitely a great alternative in that case. For others, the stigma of therapy is real. Not having to go into an office or be seen at a counseling center is a huge relief. And, being allowed to take a therapy session from home or wherever you’re most physically comfortable can help you open up faster.
The advantages of online therapy is plentiful, but it is not for everyone, even when we aren’t living in extraordinary times.
While telepsychology is an incredibly powerful tool and helps you prevent gaps in treatment, it is not appropriate for every concern or issue. If you are experiencing severe symptoms like self-harm, then teletherapy is definitely not recommended. Also if you have issues that require inpatient treatment, this may not be the ideal method for you. It is also not the preferred method of conducting therapy, as data suggests that the majority of clients or therapists prefer in-person sessions when given the choices. Yet, telepsychology can be useful and reliable when needed.
Unfortunately, as helpful as it can be, technology has its failures. You might not always be able to rely on being in a place with a strong internet connection, which can be a huge interference, distraction, and waste of precious treatment time. Understandably, frozen screens, echoing, low-resolution video feeds, and dropped calls are not conducive to the therapeutic experience. And now, with the whole family at home, it can be hard to find a quiet place to take the therapy session without distraction.
Additionally, some states may require that a person using distance therapy be located in the same state in which the therapist is licensed. Depending on the regulations where you live, this could limit your options for therapists.
All things considered, the negatives are nominal.
Without physical restrictions and commutes, making a therapy session happen virtually has a much lower barrier to entry. If you’ve been in consistent treatment, don’t let social distancing create a hiccup in your therapy. Reach out to your provider and ask if they would be willing to do video conferencing, hop on a phone call, or at the very least, email or text back and forth. Missing appointments is never ideal, but especially during periods of high anxiety or depression and situations that require new coping skills.
If you were not in treatment prior to this new isolation, but are looking for support, it’s easy to find a great match with a therapist who is willing to perform teletherapy through Advekit.
If you aren’t already starting to use virtual platforms and tools like FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype and Zoom, they are popular and easy to adopt. Most people with Apple devices, like iPhones, are already set up to use FaceTime, and those with Google accounts can easily log into a Google Hangout or Meeting. Skype and Zoom require you to download an application, so if you end up with a therapist who uses them, you’ll need to get up to speed and set up before your appointment.
Also, if you aren’t comfortable on video, you can always request to turn it off and just do a voice call, or have a good old fashioned phone call.
This is not an easy time. Being at home for long periods of time can be challenging not only for yourself but can also put a strain on important relationships. Reach out if you need help getting through this rough patch. You are not alone, and there are virtual resources to help prevent gaps in critical mental health care. Ultimately, the integrity of your therapy and results will not be diluted in any way just because you’re connecting through a screen. In fact, people often find the online experience more satisfying than their previous in-person therapy.
Just because we are socially isolated doesn't mean we can’t connect or continue with important anchors in our lives. It just means we have to change how we think about them. For your emotional well-being during this time of social distancing, consider reaching out to one of the mental health professionals in our network and get started with teletherapy today.
Alison LaSov, LMFT
Alison LaSov is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with experience treating clients struggling with anxiety and depression. She predominantly focuses on mental health intervention for children and adolescents, particularly those who are in crisis. She has worked within the Los Angeles education system treating students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), as well as supervised a non-profit Teen Crisis Hotline out of Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Alison earned her B.A. from UCLA and M.A. from Pepperdine University. She is a native to Los Angeles and co-founder at Advekit.