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What is Teletherapy?

written by Skye Kalil Written by Skye Kalil
Skye Kalil

Skye Kalil

Skye likes writing about mental health, nutrition, and wellness. She is passionate about sharing information that will educate, and positively affect people's lives.

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January 10, 2022 Read Time - 7 minutes

Teletherapy Counseling

Teletherapy is an online version of traditional mental health counseling, similar to a Zoom or Skype meeting. Also called online therapy, e-therapy, or video therapy sessions, this type of mental health treatment is conducted over secure video connections with a licensed therapist. Teletherapy allows clients to meet with a therapist online from anywhere that has a stable and secure internet or phone connection. Research shows that it can be just as effective as in-person therapy. 

Some examples of teletherapy include:

  • Therapy sessions over the phone
  • Group chats for group therapy
  • Videoconferencing for individual, couples, or group therapy
  • Email or instant messenger messages between a therapist and client 
  • Apps that connect clients to therapists and offer therapy within the app
  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

PlushCare-App-Steps

How Does Teletherapy Work?

Teletherapy works by connecting patients to therapists, typically through video chat, although email, phone, and app messaging can be used as well. Teletherapy works in a similar way to in-person therapy, in that the therapist will usually have an appointment with their client once a week, or every other week.

The therapist will typically start with an intake process that includes history taking, assessment and goal setting; followed by interventions based on the client’s needs. Interventions can include helping the client with coping skills, identifying strengths, reducing bothersome symptoms and helping the client to overcome any barriers to achieving their goals. Referrals or recommendations for alternative treatment may also occur. A teletherapy therapist works in the same way they do as with in-person sessions; the only difference being that the session is held online.

How Do I Prepare For Teletherapy?

Starting therapy and opening up to a stranger, in-person or virtually, can be daunting, and you may wonder what can I expect from teletherapy? Teletherapy is very similar to in-person therapy, but before you begin, there are a few steps you need to take. To ensure confidentiality, make sure that you: 

  • Log into whatever device you are using (phone or computer) from a private network
  • Keep your computer locked to prevent others from viewing the session
  • Access therapy site via an encrypted therapy platform
  • Do not be driving in a car or any other unsafe situation while in session.
  • Make sure you are in a safe private space so your teletherapy session is not interrupted.

What are the Benefits of Teletherapy?

People choose online therapy for many reasons, such as child care needs at home, mobility issues, or a tight work schedule.  And many choose online therapy simply because it saves them the time it takes to drive to a therapist’s office!

There are numerous compelling benefits to teletherapy: 

  • Expanded access to care: Before telehealth, if there was not a licensed, board-certified therapist in your area, you could not receive care. This left large parts of the country that are more rural unsupported. Many others were previously unable to access traditional in-person therapy due to physical disabilities, mental health barriers, or scheduling conflicts. 
  • Lower cost: Teletherapy can help clients save money. Not only on the treatment itself, but other expenses related to attending therapy as well, such as travel or child care. 
  • High satisfaction: Studies have shown that people report being satisfied with the care they receive with teletherapy. 
  • More convenience: Teletherapy can happen from any location, as long as you have a strong internet or phone connection. You do not have to travel, sit in a waiting room, or even leave your home to have a teletherapy session. 
  • Public health benefits: With teletherapy, you don’t have to leave your house, or interact with anyone in a close confined space. The COVID-19 health crisis created and highlighted a need for people to seek medical care virtually to slow the spread of illness and vulnerable populations. 

Related: Social Anxiety After COVID-19


What Are the Disadvantages of Teletherapy?

Teletherapy also has some potential disadvantages: 

  • Poor communication: Video conferencing may make it more challenging for a therapist to notice body language due to screens typically showing only the top half of the body.  
  • Compliance: Therapists must follow specific guidelines with telepathy, like getting licensed in the state where they practice, and protecting client privacy by encrypting data. 
  • Technical difficulties: Teletherapy relies on technology to connect the therapist and the patient. If either lacks technology skills, it can lead to significant issues. Other roadblocks like slow internet connections, glitches in video software, and communication delays can make therapy strained.  
  • Therapy environment: If you do not have a private, secure place to conduct teletherapy sessions, it could be more of a hassle than it is worth. If you have children at home, little privacy or space, it can become more stressful than going into a therapist’s office.

Is Telehealth Therapy as Good as In-Person Therapy?

Although telehealth therapy has proven to be effective for most people, it may not feel the same as in-person therapy and is not a good fit for everyone. Teletherapy may not work for those people who struggle with technology, do not have a suitable private space to conduct a therapy session, or have an insurance plan that does not cover telehealth. 

Telehealth also is not recommended for people in crisis with severe psychological or emotional issues, such as schizophrenia, severe depression, bipolar, or suicidal thoughts.  

These types of patients will typically be referred to in-person therapy. Telehealth may also not be a good fit for those requiring regular therapeutic attention outside of weekly scheduled session times, or other situations deemed a poor fit.

On the other hand, therapy can be an excellent fit for those who cannot access in-person care, or live in a place that is far away from mental health resources. Teletherapy has become increasingly popular over the past few years and with so many people enjoying its benefits, and it is likely to be around to an even greater degree post COVID.   

When comparing online therapy with in-person therapy, one is not necessarily better than the other, they each offer unique benefits. Telehealth will never replace in-person therapy, but it has become an expansion of mental health care to provide options to those whose treatment was previously inaccessible.  


Read More: Online Mental Health Services


How to Get a Teletherapy Appointment

To get a teletherapy appointment, you will either need to sign up through a provider, such as PlushCare, or independently find a therapist that offers teletherapy. When looking for a therapist, it is crucial to make sure they are licensed to practice in your state. Make sure you know their full name, credentials, and license number, to double-check. If you are going through a certified provider like PlushCare, that won’t be an issue, as all PlushCare online therapists are licensed and board-certified. 

You will also want to look deeper into who you will potentially be working with. Forming a connection with your therapist is necessary to the success of treatment. Check out the therapist’s methods, experience, specializations, and philosophy to see if they would be a good fit for you. 

  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

PlushCare-App-Steps

Book a Teletherapy Appointment Online

It’s easy to book a teletherapy appointment online with PlushCare. PlushCare therapists provide thoughtful support to everyone. When using PlushCare for access to a therapist, you will also have the option to access our network of primary care physicians. This connection allows you to work with therapists and doctors who can prescribe medication and provide other health services.

Therapy works best when you have a connection with your therapist, so talking to someone first can be very beneficial to see if it would be a good fit going forward. Click here to book a free 15-minute consultation or start your first therapy session today.

To see if PlushCare therapists are available in your state, click here


Read More About Teletherapy


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

How well is telepsychology working?. American Psychological Association. Accessed July 29, 2021.https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/07/cover-telepsychology

Telehealth Is As Good As In-Person Care? Consider the Telehealth Evidence. Telehealth.org. Accessed July 29, 2021. https://telehealth.org/telehealth-as-good-as-in-person-care/

Varker, T., Brand, R. M., Ward, J., Terhaag, S., & Phelps, A. (2019). Efficacy of synchronous telepsychology interventions for people with anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and adjustment disorder: A rapid evidence assessment. Psychological Services, 16(4), 621–635. https://doi.org/10.1037/ser0000239

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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