With a global COVID-19 pandemic comes significant change, uncertainty, fear, and disruption to our daily lives. During such difficult times, it has been challenging to resume our daily routines. This includes activities or factors we relied on for self-care, such as going to the gym, seeing friends, or meeting with a therapist. Thankfully, technology exists. We are now better able to stay connected with others than ever before. Despite the fact that you can’t go to your therapist’s physical office, virtual therapy has made it possible to bring mental health support to you – via your phone, tablet or laptop.
What is Virtual Therapy?
In this digital age, we can still seek support from a therapist or resume our sessions through the use of virtual therapy (also known as teletherapy or distance counselling). Virtual therapy is the delivery of mental health services through the use of online video conferencing or via the phone. With respect to videoconferencing, such services are delivered through secure platforms which are compliant through the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA). Essentially, these platforms are similar to Facetime or Skype. However, they have a more secure basis for confidentiality and privacy, and they do not record or store any online sessions. This ensures that your session remains between you and your therapist.
How do Phone or Online Therapy Sessions Work?
The great part of virtual therapy is that it works essentially the same way as a traditional in-person therapy session. The main difference is that you and your therapist are interacting from the comfort of your own space, versus in the same physical location. Having face-to-face interaction virtually allows both you and your therapist to establish a therapeutic relationship involving trust, safety, and empathy – regardless of your location. Scheduling can be done either online or over the phone. Following this, a login link is sent to you via email to begin a real-time interaction with your therapist through a webcam on your tablet, computer, or phone.
Is Virtual Therapy as Effective as In In-Person Therapy?
During difficult times, we all have an innate need to seek human connection. If circumstances do not allow us to connect in person, then virtual therapy can be a helpful alternative. In the context of therapy, this raises the important question: is the effectiveness and benefit of virtual therapy equivalent to that of in-person individual therapy? The research would say yes.
For example, numerous studies, such as the work of Mitchel et al. (2008), as well as Wagner, Horn, and Maercker (2013), suggested that individuals undergoing face-to-face therapy compared to virtual therapy clients have had similar therapeutic outcomes and treatment progress. A further study conducted by Acierno et al. (2014) shows us that individuals treated with teletherapy may have similar improvements to those undergoing in-person therapy. This shows us that connecting online with a therapist can provide a person with promising support, connection, and help necessary for successful treatment.
Virtual therapy also allows for appointment flexibility, a safe environment in the comfort of your own space, largely accessible services, and decreased wait times for obtaining an appointment. Given the flexibility of video and phone therapy, this type of interaction makes therapy extremely accessible. All that is required is a tablet, phone, or computer, and an internet connection. Exploring virtual therapy also provides you with a flexible alternative – even when the pandemic is over and you find it difficult to make your in-person session or unexpected circumstances occur.
How Can Phone or Online Therapy Help During COVID-19?
During such times of global uncertainty and rapid disruptions to our daily life in the near future, it may be overwhelming and difficult to manage how we feel about what’s happening in the world. Adjusting to change is difficult – let alone something of this magnitude. Social distancing can invoke feelings of loneliness and disconnection, which is absolutely normal. Therapy can help.
Therapy is most effective when sessions are consistent since this allows for momentum to build in treatment, as well as grow the therapeutic relationship. Given its accessibility and the flexibility behind its use, consistency is easily maintained with virtual sessions. This ensures that you get the support you need, when and where you need it.
Whether you have had mental health difficulties prior to this pandemic or you are experiencing new stresses, telephone and video therapy can provide the support you need. Contact us today or click here to learn more.