Blog Post: Teletherapy Myths Debunked
written by: Dr. Erika Vivyan
Teletherapy, also known as telehealth or videoconferencing psychotherapy, is essentially using video calling technology to talk with a therapist. This is a fairly new practice, and as with all new technologies, you might have some doubts. Here are seven teletherapy myths and some research about why they simply aren’t true…
Myth #1: My therapist won’t care about me if we don’t meet in person.
FALSE. Your therapist cares about you and whatever concerns you are bringing to the table – it’s their job! Most studies have found that the relationship between client and therapist is about the same whether the meeting is in person or via teletherapy (Backhaus, et al., 2012). Therapists are here to help, and will always do their best to show that they care, whether in person or otherwise.
Myth #2: I won’t get an accurate diagnosis.
FALSE. Teletherapy isn’t just for your weekly therapy appointments! There are many mental health services that have been delivered by telehealth, including assessment, psychoeducation, training, consultation, and supervision (Backhaus et al., 2012). Reliable diagnoses have been provided via telehealth for a wide range of mental health problems in children, adolescents, and adults (Hilty et al., 2013). Most therapists use clinical interview questions to discuss symptoms and determine diagnoses; therefore, there is often not a need for an in-person visit to receive an accurate diagnosis.
Myth #3: Teletherapy can’t help my anxiety.
FALSE. Individual cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been successfully and frequently used with teletherapy clients (Backhaus et al., 2012). Because CBT is so effective for many anxiety disorders, your therapist can certainly use these treatment strategies to reduce your anxiety symptoms.
Myth #4: I won’t be able to concentrate or pay attention to my therapist.
FALSE. Limitations such as difficulties in hearing, concentration, and attention, have been largely overcome using teletherapy (Hilty et al., 2013). Changing the volume, setting, and type of treatment can also affect how well clients are able to focus. Even clients with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder have reported high satisfaction with teletherapy (Hilty et al.).
Myth #5: Teletherapy won’t work for children or adolescents.
FALSE. Some studies have shown that telehealth might be better than in-person therapy for children and adolescents because of the excitement of talking with the provider on a computer, tablet, or phone (Hilty et al., 2013). Imagine if your child or teen enjoyed going to therapy as much as they enjoyed a video call from a friend or family member! Teletherapy also works well for older college and graduate students who have moved away from home but would like to continue therapy.
Myth #6: My information won’t be kept private.
FALSE. Teletherapy requires the use of a secure, compliant system so that your therapy session remains confidential. Your therapist should check to verify your location at the time of the therapy session and have a written plan in case of any emergency situation that may arise during the session (McCord, 2019). As always, therapists are obligated to maintain confidentiality except when someone may be in danger or if a judge demands the release of information. Your privacy is always important to us!
Myth #7: I won’t be satisfied with my therapy experience.
FALSE. Most clients enjoy teletherapy and find it useful. Satisfaction with teletherapy services is generally high among clients in a variety of settings (Hilty et al., 2013). In fact, teletherapy has been found to have similar clinical outcomes to traditional in-person psychotherapy (Backhaus et al., 2012). We at Austin Anxiety & OCD Specialists are excited to offer teletherapy services for clients residing in the state of Texas.
© Erika J. Vivyan, PhD
Backhaus, A., Agha, Z., Maglione, M. L., Repp, A., Ross, B., Zuest, D., Rice-Thorp, N. M., Lohr, J., and Thorp, S. R. (2012). Videoconferencing psychotherapy: A systematic review. Psychological Services, 9(2), 111-131.
Hilty, D. M., Ferrer, D.C., Parish, M. B., Johnston, B., Callahan, E. J., and Yellowlees, P. M. (2013). The effectiveness of telemental health: A 2013 Review. Telemedicine and e-Health, 19(3), 444-454.
McCord, C. (June 2019). Telehealth practice essentials. [PowerPoint slides]. Presented at the meeting of Austin Anxiety and OCD Specialists, Austin, TX.