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From the Blog

What is Teletherapy

As awareness grows about the importance of mental health, many individuals are realizing that caring for their emotional well-being is as crucial as looking after their physical health. Nevertheless, there are circumstances where attending an in-person therapy session with a mental health expert at their office isn’t practical. People shouldn’t have to forgo mental health care because they reside in remote areas with limited mental health services, follow unconventional work schedules, or face mobility challenges, including pandemic-related restrictions like COVID-19. That’s where teletherapy, also known as telepsychology, comes into play as a valuable alternative. In this blog, we will explore what teletherapy is, the history of online therapy, how online counseling services works, and benefits and effectiveness of online therapy.

What is teletherapy?

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines telepsychology as the use of technology to deliver behavioral and mental health services, either as a substitute for or alongside traditional face-to-face methods. This includes therapy via phone, diagnostic interviews through video conferencing, mood tracking apps, and consultations via email. In simpler terms, it’s a mental health counseling session conducted through methods other than in-person meetings.

This form of therapy has also been referred to as e-therapy, cyber counseling, web therapy, online therapy, or online counseling. Therapists have a range of options for conducting these sessions beyond their office walls. They can use telephone calls, email, video conferencing, live chat on a website, or text messages. Some online therapy platforms even offer mobile apps for video chats or text-based sessions.

History of Online Therapy 

Online therapy may seem like a modern concept, but it has a surprisingly long history. While well-known teletherapy platforms like TalkSpace and Betterhelp only emerged in 2012 and 2013, respectively, the idea of remote therapy dates back much further.

Back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Sigmund Freud, a pioneer in psychoanalysis, communicated with his patients through letters. By the 1950s and 1960s, some therapists were conducting telephone sessions, including those who manned newly established suicide hotlines. There’s even evidence that psychiatric institutes in that era used early video conferencing for various forms of therapy and training.

The early 1980s brought the internet, and with it, the birth of mental health chat rooms where people could discuss their issues. In 1986, Cornell University launched “Dear Uncle Ezra,” a mental health Q&A forum that laid the foundation for online mental health support. In 1997, as online therapy gained traction, mental health professionals formed the International Society for Mental Health Online to offer guidance and support for teletherapy services.

Today, online therapy isn’t limited to specialized platforms like Betterhelp or TalkSpace. Many professional therapists now offer online counseling as an alternative or addition to traditional in-office sessions, making mental health care more accessible than ever.

How Online Counseling Works

In most cases, you’ll schedule an appointment for your phone call or video session, allowing you time to get ready. To ensure a productive and private experience, find a quiet space with minimal background noise and few potential distractions or interruptions. It’s also wise to test your technology in advance, whether that means checking your webcam for high-quality video, ensuring a stable internet connection for reliable live video or online chats, or making sure your mobile phone has enough battery life to last the session.

Your therapist will give you a login link or contact details in a confirmation email that you can use during your scheduled appointment. Once your session starts, your therapist can employ the same treatment methods and engage in similar conversations. At the agreed-upon conclusion of your session, your counselor will end the call, chat, or video, and you’ll disconnect from the platform you were using.

Some online therapy sessions do not require appointments. For instance, Talkspace offers text therapy through a mobile app and encourages patients to message their therapist whenever they feel the need. According to Talkspace’s website, therapists typically respond to patient texts one to two times a day. This approach is sometimes referred to as “unlimited messaging therapy.”

Benefits of Online Counseling for Patients

More and more people are turning to teletherapy for a variety of compelling reasons. According to a 2019 Psychology Today article by clinical psychologist Goal Auzeen Saedi, Ph.D., there are numerous advantages to online therapy that cater to a wide range of clients. Saedi highlights several benefits stemming from the simple fact that patients don’t need to commute to and from their teletherapy sessions, as they would for in-person appointments. This eliminates concerns about travel-related safety issues like inclement weather or accidents and ensures appointments are more likely to start promptly without delays such as traffic jams or flat tires. With an all-online, appointment-based telepractice, there are no wait times, providing immediate assistance.

Conducting therapy from the comfort of one’s home offers additional advantages, notes Saedi. Apart from being a viable option for those in remote areas, individuals with busy schedules, or those with accessibility needs due to disabilities, phone, text, or video therapy is an excellent solution for patients who may not be feeling well or are contagious. Saedi also appreciates the convenience of patients having access to food, drinks, and restroom facilities.

Saedi believes that online therapy services offer a “low barrier to entry” for individuals who may feel apprehensive about their first counseling appointment. Compared to the traditional process of traveling to an unfamiliar location and waiting in an unfamiliar lobby for that first therapy session, online counseling allows patients to engage from the comfort of their own space, complete with their cozy blanket and favorite mug, creating a more relaxed environment for their initial conversation with an online counselor.

Furthermore, utilizing online therapy platforms such as Betterhelp or TalkSpace can often be more cost-effective than traditional in-office visits. This is particularly important for patients whose health insurance plans do not cover mental health expenses. To make an informed decision, it’s advisable to check with your insurance company to determine if online therapy covered by insurance is possible before scheduling your initial appointment.

Effectiveness of Online Therapy Programs

Despite initial doubts, strong evidence supports the effectiveness of mental health therapy conducted via computers or mobile devices. Extensive research studies have investigated the efficiency of online psychotherapy for various mental health conditions, consistently yielding promising results.

For example, a 2014 study investigating internet-based interventions for depression revealed no significant disparities in outcomes when compared to traditional therapy. Likewise, in 2011, a study concentrating on mobile phone-based interventions found that participants experienced noteworthy reductions in symptoms related to stress, anxiety, depression, and overall psychological distress within just six weeks of engaging with a mobile mental health program. Additionally, a 2014 study garnered positive feedback when therapists employed telephone calls and text messages to provide treatment for individuals with schizophrenia, a severe mental illness. This trend is further substantiated by over 40 academic studies conducted over the past two decades, which consistently support teletherapy as “an effective and suitable therapeutic delivery mode” for addressing a wide range of mental health concerns.

Finding the right therapist in NYC is still key!

Online counseling services offer valuable benefits and can be just as effective as traditional in-office psychotherapy for various mental health conditions. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that online therapy isn’t everyone’s preferred choice. Some individuals may feel more comfortable with face-to-face interactions, where they can better interpret body language and nuances. This preference is entirely valid.

Online therapy sessions can be an option to consider alongside office visits but they are not likely to completely replace them especially for more serious mental conditions, like post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or bipolar disorder.

Regardless of the mode of therapy you choose, the quality of the relationship and finding a therapist who suits your needs and preferences are crucial. It’s important to make sure that your mental health professional is a therapist in your state for online counseling as each state has its own requirements for licensing different mental health practitioners. If you’re based in New York, finding a NYC therapist is key. You have every right to ask for proof of a therapist’s license to practice in your area.

The type of service and treatment provided by a therapist is also significant. For instance if you’re dealing with relationship issues seeking out a couples counselor would be advisable. You might be looking for a family therapist. Someone specialized in counseling teenagers. On the other hand, you may specifically want a therapist who practices an approach like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which is effective alongside various other forms of talk therapy. These considerations apply regardless of whether you opt for, in person or online therapy services.

Ultimately the effectiveness of any therapist relies heavily on your comfort level, with them. It’s natural to have a preference for a therapist who shares your race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity whether you choose to see them in person or online. At Uncover Mental Health Counseling, our NYC therapists understand the importance of finding the therapist who aligns with your needs and the unique challenges of living and working in New York City. If you’re looking for notch counselors in NYC especially given the current circumstances surrounding COVID 19, Uncover Mental Health Counseling is here to help you navigate these unprecedented times.

Access online therapy in NYC with Uncover Mental Health Counseling!

Navigating the world of teletherapy can open up new possibilities for addressing your emotional challenges, all from the comfort of your own space. At Uncover Mental Health Counseling, we understand the profound impact that teletherapy can have on your well-being. Let’s explore how we can provide you with the support and guidance you need through teletherapy.

  1. Reach Out to Uncover Mental Health Counseling: Start your journey by reaching out to us to schedule a complimentary consultation call. We’ll discuss your specific concerns, and you can learn more about how teletherapy can be an effective tool for addressing your mental health issues.
  2. Meet with Our NYC Therapists: Connect with one of our experienced NYC therapists who specialize in fear of intimacy, all through the convenience of teletherapy. In your initial session, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss your goals, explore your anxieties, and develop strategies to foster healthier connections.
  3. Experience Self-Discovery and Healing: Embark on a path of self-discovery and healing, receiving the personalized support and guidance needed to conquer your mental health issues, all while using teletherapy as a powerful tool. We’ll work together to help you build more fulfilling relationships and find the happiness you deserve.

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