What are the Pros and Cons of Telehealth Psychology?
Many people have benefited from e-therapy and only more are going to as it grows in popularity. While that may be the case, it’s important to weigh your options between online and in-person mental health options. To help you decide, we’ve compiled the most important pros and cons of telehealth psychology.
Telehealth psychology lets patients access mental health providers without having to go to their offices. It can be just as effective as in-person therapy, is more accessible for people in rural areas and those with physical limitations, and may be cheaper in some cases.
On the other hand, your insurance provider may not provide coverage across state lines. E-therapy also makes assessing body language more difficult. Another drawback is that it may not be ideal for complex cases that require emergency communication.
While this may be the case for some patients, telehealth psychology is still a massive move forward for the mental health field. In the end, it’s up to you to decide the pros and cons and determine what works best for you.
What is Telehealth Psychology?
Telehealth psychology allows you to take advantage of mental health services from the comfort of your own home. You can attend your therapy sessions in a number of ways, whether it be:
- Phone calls
- Telehealth platforms
Whatever method you choose, this type of therapy gives you the ability to talk to a mental health professional without having to go to their office. Whatever method you or your doctor uses, it’s important that it is private and secure. This ensures that your sessions remain strictly between you and your psychologist, therapist, counselor, or social worker.
These sessions work just like face-to-face sessions. If you’re new to therapy or meeting with a new therapist, you’ll spend some time getting to know each other. From there, you begin the process of discussing your problems and asking and answering questions. Meeting over the phone or computer can be awkward at first, but you will grow more comfortable over time.
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The Pros and Cons of Telehealth Psychology
Everything comes with its pros and cons and virtual therapy is no different. While it grew in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people still use it with more taking advantage of it every day. It may come down to a matter of preference for patients, with some enjoying the convenience of teletherapy and others preferring the neutrality of an office.
- One of the most important pros of online and other virtual options is that they can be just as effective as in-person therapy. A 2021 study found that virtual therapy is just as effective for patients as going to the doctor’s office. As one literature review found, research shows that patients with moderate depression can benefit from online cognitive behavioral therapy.
- Access to mental health services can be difficult to come by for those who live in rural areas. In these cases, a visit to the therapist can involve long drives and planning to make the most of the trip. Thanks to telehealth, anyone with an internet connection or cell phone service can receive treatment for mental health conditions in real-time without needing to drive a long way.
- Those with physical limitations also face problems accessing mental health care. This could be due to being unable to leave their own home or a lack of mental health professionals who can accommodate their mobility issues. With telehealth psychology, patients suffering from issues such as multiple sclerosis can gain access to mental health treatment much more easily.
- Online therapy has become much more convenient and affordable than it’s been in the past. Not only do you not have to spend money on gas to get to your appointments, but you can do it from your own couch. Virtual psychology sessions may also be cheaper since some states require it to be covered by insurance and online therapists may face lower overhead to operate.
To learn about the relationship between your physical and mental health, click here!
- While some online therapy options may be cheaper, one of the most important cons of online therapy may also involve insurance. Similar to how some states require coverage for e-therapy, some states don’t. They may also not allow out-of-state providers unless they are licensed in both states. You will need to check with your insurance company to see if you’re covered.
- Body language is an important signal for mental health professionals. While they may beable to see your facial expressions during a video conference, they won’t be able to if you are on a phone call. Even on video conferencing, not being able to see the whole body may prevent your psychologist or counselor from getting a complete read on the state of your mental health.
- It’s important to know that e-therapy isn’t for everyone. While some patients will benefit from regular online sessions with their providers, others may have mental health conditions that are too severe. Telehealth psychology options can act as part of a support system in these types of situations. However, in-person meetings may be a better option for more complex cases.
- The distance between a patient and their mental health counselor may lead to problems. It can make it difficult for mental health professionals to respond when a crisis occurs in a timely manner. This can be especially difficult if a patient has experienced a tragedy or has suicidal thoughts. In these cases, it’s important for the therapist to know the patient’s location and be able to identify emergency services and contact information.
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E-therapy lets patients access mental health resources without ever having to step foot in an office. Studies have shown it to be just as effective as in-person therapy in many cases. It may be ideal for those who live in rural areas or who have physical limitations. Online therapy may also be a more affordable option in some cases.
Virtual therapy isn’t without its downsides, such as if your insurance provider won’t provide coverage across state lines. E-therapy can also make it difficult for mental health professionals to gauge your body language. Complex mental health cases may not be ideal for online therapy, nor if a patient requires immediate communication in case of an emergency.
It’s important to keep in mind that what would be considered drawbacks for some patients aren’t drawbacks for others. After all, telehealth psychology is still a huge step forward for the entire mental health field. It’s up to you at the end of the day to weigh the pros and cons to decide if e-therapy is the right choice for you.
Find Empathy’s purpose is to empower mental health professionals to better serve patients living with challenging chronic illnesses and medical diagnoses. Through our easy and accessible continuing education courses and credits, mental health providers are able to become medically informed on health psychology topics to help improve patient care and clinical outcomes.