Here’s How to Make the Most Out of Teletherapy Right Now
What is Teletherapy?
Teletherapy, also known as telehealth, telepractice, or online therapy, is the online delivery of professional services from psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, social workers, and other licensed mental health professionals through video conferencing or telephone calls.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), online therapy sessions are similar to in-person therapy sessions with one major exception. Instead of meeting in a therapist’s office, patients and therapists interact via live video connection.
Making the Most of Teletherapy
The World Health Organization recently declared the ongoing outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, a pandemic. In response, the CDC has advised healthcare providers, including psychologists and psychiatrists, to provide remote services.
Additionally, the United States Department of Health and Human Services relaxed constraints that made it difficult to meet with a clinician online because of privacy concerns under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Relaxed HIPAA regulations have changed patient access to online therapy, allowing new and current patients to meet with healthcare providers over online platforms.
Whether you’re looking to start online therapy for the first time or you’re transitioning from in-person sessions, increased access to online therapy services has made meeting with an online therapist easier and more convenient. Although it can be a big adjustment, online therapy can be a valuable and beneficial support system, especially during acute stress periods. So, how can you make the most out of teletherapy right now?
Expect some awkwardness at first.
Regardless of the software platform your mental health professional is using and how tech-savvy they are, teletherapy is still going to feel like a different experience from face-to-face therapy.
You may think of discomfort or awkwardness as signs that online therapy isn’t right for you. However, maintaining an honest line of communication with your online therapist can help ease the transition. Remember that it’s quite reasonable to grieve the loss of face-to-face therapy sessions and feel frustration, fear, and sadness about the loss of in-person support.
Treat teletherapy sessions like in-person appointments.
One of the best ways to make the most out of teletherapy is to treat your online therapy sessions like in-person sessions. Like an office therapy session, your first session is an opportune time to evaluate your goals, specific needs, and personal progress. If you’re trying therapy for the first time, aim to discuss and set goals with your new therapist.
You may want to relocate to a different room or area of the house or dress as you usually would to make your session feel more formal. Treating online counseling sessions like in-person appointments can put you in a different headspace, especially if you’re feeling drained from quarantine.
Minimize interruptions and create a safe environment.
One of the most touted benefits of online therapy is that you can do it anytime, anywhere. However, it’s essential to create a safe, private as possible space and set aside intentional time for your therapy sessions.
Because the emotional nature of therapy makes it crucial to engage with the process fully, try to minimize interruptions and find a comfortable environment for your sessions. If you’re self-isolating with family or roommates, consider asking them to wear headphones or take a walk or stay in another room while you do therapy. Ultimately, make sure to prioritize therapy and do it in an environment that feels safe and private to you.
Be flexible with the format of your online therapy.
With online therapy services, patients can pick a treatment time and format that works with their schedule.
Practice expressing your emotions more explicitly.
If you’ve attended in-person therapy for a while, you’re probably used to your therapist observing your body language and facial expressions to help you verbalize your emotional state. The ability of mental health professionals to read non-verbal cues is something many teletherapy clients might take for granted during the transition to online therapy.
Learning how to express your emotions more explicitly can be beneficial to your mental health treatment. Similarly, being more descriptive about your feelings can give your therapist useful information and insight into your specific needs.
The ability to describe your emotions is a useful skill in self-awareness and online therapy is an excellent opportunity to start expressing yourself in a safe environment.
Remind yourself that therapy is essential right now.
Throughout the United States, people are self-isolating to limit the spread of COVID-19. It’s normal to experience a regression in your mental health in times of acute stress, especially if you have a preexisting mental health condition such as post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, or anxiety. Individuals with preexisting psychiatric illnesses should continue their specific treatment plans during the outbreak and inform their psychologist about new mental health symptoms.
Finding an Online Therapist
At the Therapy Group of NYC, we’re committed to providing online mental health services to both current and new patients. We know that it can be challenging to function as usual, given the unprecedented nature and evolving uncertainty of the current situation. Our years of experience as a leading therapy practice have prepared us to offer you dedicated help and support.
Whether you’re interested in psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or career-focused therapy, we can help you find the right therapist and smooth transition to teletherapy. Using HIPAA-compliant systems, we’re able to connect you to the best online therapy—all you need is an internet connection.
Teletherapy can be a powerful tool for your mental health, especially during such an isolating and stressful time. Although reaching out for help may feel daunting, one of the licensed therapists at the Therapy Group of NYC can help you take care of your mental health from the comfort of your own home.