Teletherapy or Online Counseling: Benefits and Ways to Make the Most of the Session

Do you feel your stress levels increasing? Is your anxiety getting out of hand? Is loneliness starting to creep in? The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a decrease in the mental health of many around the globe. The worldwide social distancing has all confined in our homes, with or without our loved ones. The unknown aspect of this pandemic and constantly wondering when this lockdown will be over, us enough to put a toll on anyone’s mental health. Fortunately, social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t get the right help you need to cope with this distressing time.

Teletherapy, also referred to as online counselling, is an effective way of therapy. It makes it easier for you to talk to a therapist without leaving your house. Even if you are uncomfortable with video chats, you can opt for audio chats or even text messages. Teletherapy is proving highly effective nowadays when people can’t head out to have face to face sessions with their therapists.

However, teletherapy might seem overwhelming or uncomfortable to many. It is fairly normal to feel this way as talking about your anxiety and feelings can be tough, particularly on video call with a person you haven’t met. But, understanding more about this unique form of counseling can help you become more accustomed to it.

Why Should you Consider Teletherapy?

Teletherapy offers various ways of interacting with your therapist instead of sitting on a couch. This form of counselling can include phone sessions, video calls, and text messages – whatever makes you comfortable. You can always discuss it with your therapist how you want the sessions to be conducted. Here are some more benefits of teletherapy:

Flexibility – since the sessions are online, you can pick a time that is more suitable for you and when you can have some privacy to openly talk.

Approachability – you might find it easier to share your feelings through text messages or phone calls instead of being in a traditional therapy session.

Lower Costs – online sessions might potentially be less expensive than face to face sessions depending on your out-of-network and/or insurance benefits.

Increased Safety – due to the ongoing pandemic, teletherapy is a much safer option to avail counseling sessions with risking any chances of getting the virus.

It is also a great way of getting accustomed to counselling sessions if you haven’t had therapy before.

Will the Teletherapy Session be Confidential?

Teletherapy sessions and confidentiality is a major concern for many people regarding this type of therapy. Many think that since it is not a traditional therapy session, it might not be confidential. However, that is not true. All therapists are legally and ethically bound through privacy laws to not share any details of the therapy sessions, both face to face and teletherapy, with any third party.

They have to make sure that the room is secure and private before they begin the teletherapy session. These sessions are not shared or recorded in any way, unless you agree.

Is Teletherapy as Beneficial as Traditional Therapy?

The effectiveness of teletherapy, just like traditional therapy, depends on the individual and their purpose of seeking a therapy session. Many researchers have explored the ways in which teletherapy is used and can be effective. Research has found that teletherapy can be as beneficial as the traditional therapy.

According to a research that explored the advantages of teletherapy among patients with depression found that the patients who received teletherapy experienced slightly better outcome and reported fewer depressive feelings and thoughts in comparison to the patients undergoing tradition therapy.

Another research examined the effectiveness of teletherapy in the treatment of individuals experiencing bulimia nervosa. More than hundred adults with bulimia nervosa participated in this study and were randomly assigned to receive either teletherapy or face to face therapy. After three months, the researchers found there was almost the same recovery outcome among both the groups.

This shows that teletherapy has promising outcomes and is as beneficial for the patients as traditional therapy.

Things to Ask your Therapist During Initial Teletherapy Session

A good match with a therapist can enhance the effectiveness of the therapy session. Therefore, it is recommended that you ask some questions during your initial teletherapy session to make the process easier for you. These questions can be anything you are concerned about or confused about. Here are a few things you can ask your therapist:

  • How would the paperwork be signed, including consent forms, and treatment plans? Usually electronically signed forms are used in teletherapy.
  • Will the information be confidential?
  • What would be the cost of these sessions? You can also ask if your insurance would cover these sessions. In some insurance plans online therapy is not included. You can also consult your insurance company for options. The cost is usually less than traditional therapy session, but if you are transitioning from a traditional therapy session to teletherapy due to the coronavirus pandemic then the cost would stay the same.
  • What type of technology would you have to download to make the session easier? You might have to download a software or an app. You can also ask if you can use video or audio call option in your phone.
  • How often would be the sessions? This is crucial to when your therapist would be available and to recommend a time that would be more suitable for you. The frequency of the sessions would be decided by your therapist after the first session.
  • Will there be other sources available to you aside from therapy? This could include any hotlines you might need in case of emergency, or of the therapist would be available for questions, concerns, and emergencies.

You can ask any question you want to ask to make sure you the therapy sessions would work well for you. It is important to build a good rapport with your therapist and the initial session will help you in determining if the therapist is the right match. If you think the therapist is easy to talk to and you would be comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings then you can continue with the sessions.

Ways to Prepare for a Teletherapy Session

While your therapist plays a vital role in making the sessions private and safe for you to talk in, you can also play a major part in making these sessions more effective. There are different ways to prepare for a teletherapy session. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Make sure you have a quiet and private space in your house for the teletherapy session. It might be hard if you live with a large family during this pandemic since everyone would be at home. However, you can explain the situation to your family if you are comfortable telling them, use your home office, or set up in your backyard, garage, or even your car.
  • Ensure you have a reliable internet connection to prevent any issues and delays during the session
  • Let others know you are in a meeting to ensure there are no disruptions. Keep in mind your teletherapy is your time to care for your mental health. Interruptions will only impact the flow of your session.
  • Play white noise in the background and wear headphones if there are other people in the rooms nearby. This will ensure they can hear what your therapist is saying and the white noise will ensure that you are not overheard. Just play this on an iPad, tablet, or phone near the door of your room.
  • Keep a water bottle and tissue box nearby in case you need it. Water bottle will ensure you stay hydrated throughout the session. You might need the tissues to wipe your tears in case of an intense teletherapy session.
  • Always keep a notebook and a pen nearby in case your therapist might give you advice, or share tools or useful skills that you might need to jot down quickly.
  • Make sure you have a comfortable place to sit and have a blanket or a soft pillow nearby. Keeping one on your lap or running your fingers along the blanket are self-soothing techniques that can help you in calming down if you start feeling stressed or anxious.
  • Keep your laptop or phone fully charged, you don’t want your session to abruptly end because of dead battery.
  • If you are using your laptop then keep your phone nearby just in case. If your internet connection starts acting up then you can immediately call your therapist on the phone. Moreover, if you start feeling overwhelmed with the video session, your therapist can easily reach out to you on call or through texts.

Another tip is to note down the topics you want to discuss with your therapist. Many things can happen between your last teletherapy session and your next one. Keeping tabs on your feelings and thoughts will help you keep on track and make the most of your sessions.

Things to Do After the Teletherapy Session

Once the teletherapy session is done, you might experience a roller-coaster of feelings and emotions. It is essential to take care of your mental state after the therapy. Depending on the type of session you had, you might feel exhausted, inspired, drained, relieved, raw, or other emotions. This is a crucial time for you as it is an opportunity to continue exploring your feelings and to try the interventions your therapist had recommended.

This is the transition time when you return to your ‘real life’ after the therapy. Switching off from the therapy to go back to your normal routine can be tricky. There are various things you can do to sooth yourself after a teletherapy session. Here are a few ideas:

  • Reflect on the session and jot down your thoughts and feelings in your journal
  • Paint, draw or doodle to let it all out
  • Dance it off to your favorite tunes
  • Perform yoga for a few minutes
  • Spend some time gardening
  • Do deep breathing exercises
  • Start baking or cooking your favorite meal
  • Do some reading
  • Color in that adult coloring book you purchased
  • Watch a feel-good movie
  • Handout with friends

You can do anything that will make you feel better. You can also ask your therapist to recommend some after session activities as well.

Teletherapy can be highly beneficial during the time of crises, like the current pandemic when people are confined at home and the stress and anxiety are growing. With the entire population either working from home or stressed about losing their jobs, there is a major dip in the mental health of people. It is essential to take care of your mental health during these uncertain times. Teletherapy can help you drastically.

While it might seem unusual at first, but teletherapy sessions can be more comfortable especially for people who are not comfortable with face to face counseling. Use the tips highlighted in this article to understand more about teletherapy and take the most advantage of these sessions. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to get in touch with us.

Mind Wellness Counseling is a small private practice that differentiates from large group practices and online subscription-based therapy services by providing tailored and personalized services to all the clients. You can reach out to one of our therapists at any time of day or night via phone, text, or email. We send you a link that will take you to a virtual waiting room where you will be met by one of our compassionate therapists who will help you cope with your concerns.

We understand this is a hard time for everyone, and we are here to help you deal with the anxiety and stress related to coronavirus and ensure that you have healthy coping ways to enhance your mental health.