What is Tele-therapy and is it right for me?
What is Teletherapy?
Goode and Shinkle (2019) created the following definition of teletherapy:
“Teletherapy is the online delivery of speech, occupational, and mental health therapy services via high-resolution,
live video conferencing.” Teletherapy, also known as online therapy, e-therapy, or video therapy, is therapy
delivered through a virtual platform via a computer. If you’ve ever used FaceTime or Skype, it’s essentially the same thing – except more secure and with a qualified therapist or counselor at the other end instead of a distant friend or relative.
Who is Teletherapy For?
Teletherapy is beneficial for a range of people, for a diverse set of circumstances, and can be conducted in one-to-one
therapy sessions and also group sessions. There are several benefits to choosing teletherapy. Its flexible nature favors both clients and providers. It ensures the privacy of clients and rules out the chances of clients running into someone they know at their therapist’s office. Teletherapy eliminates safety concerns that may come up in case of extreme weather conditions or contagious illnesses.
How Do Online Therapy Sessions Work?
Teletherapy sessions work much the same way as traditional therapy sessions with only one significant difference –
the therapist and the client are not in the same room.Sessions are scheduled at an appropriate and suitable
time and day for each party, who then log-in via an agreed, secure video platform. The therapist and client can see and hear each other in real-time during the session via the use of webcams and headsets. Through this virtual environment, they can interact with each other, and the therapist uses the same traditional techniques and activities they would use in a face-to-face therapy session.As with face-to-face therapy, a client may only seek out the therapist for one session to deal with a current life situation, or they may agree to on-going sessions.
Are Teletherapy Sessions Private?
Therapists are ethically and legally bound by privacy laws to not share details about their teletherapy sessions with
third parties, just as with face-to-face sessions. Therapists must ensure they are in a private and secure room
before engaging in any teletherapy sessions. Sessions should not be recorded or shared, unless with explicit
agreement from the patient.From the patient end, it is also up to them to ensure they conduct their end of the
session in an equally private area to ensure their confidentiality.Some therapists have argued that teletherapy
is more private than traditional face-to-face sessions, where patients who know each other have the potential
to bump into each other on the premises where therapy takes place. In terms of the security of the software used,
therapists utilizing teletherapy must use specialized software that is fully encrypted, offering a high level of security and privacy. Any software that therapists use for telepsychology must be approved by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). This is legislation that ensures data privacy and security for safeguarding medical information, including therapy.
Is Teletherapy as Effective as Face to Face Therapy?
How effective teletherapy is, really depends on the individual and their reasons for seeking therapy. Since it first began to
be used as a treatment method more than 20 years ago, psychological research has explored the different ways
teletherapy has been used, and it’s effectiveness.Overall the research does support that teletherapy is just as effective
as traditional face-to-face therapy for a range of circumstances.