What is online therapy and is it worth my time?
Telehealth? Teletherapy? Video-conferencing? Online Therapy? While therapy via the internet may seem like the latest trend, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has successfully used video-conferencing to provide therapy services for over 20 years.
Why is mainstream society just now jumping on the teletherapy bandwagon?
The short answer is that state laws and regulations have had a difficult time outlining how to keep clients safe. In each state, there are strict ethical guidelines and licensing requirements for all mental health providers. If a psychologist in Texas is seeing a client in Montana, which rules does that person need to follow? For a long time, no one knew.
Nowadays, however, most states have decided that a provider must possess an up to date license in whatever state they are providing therapy services. Meaning that if you live in Texas, then your therapist must have an active Texas license.
What are the benefits of teletherapy?
An unmistakable benefit to teletherapy is the greater access to mental health services that it provides. About 1 in 5 Americans over the age of 18 will experience a mental health concern in the next year. Only half of those individuals will receive treatment. Right now, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration, almost 80 million people living in the U.S. do not have access to mental health care services. The biggest reason for this disparity? No access to a qualified provider. Teletherapy can solve this issue.
Therapy via the internet not only offers mental health services for those who live in rural areas, but it also provides services for those who:
- do not have adequate transportation
- do not have access to child-care
- are homebound due to medical or mental health reasons
- are too busy to drive to an in-office appointment
- are worried about the stigma of walking into a mental health office
Is teletherapy effective?
In recent years, many researchers have sought to put teletherapy to the test. The results? In a 2017 study, researchers conducted a systematic review of 156 articles published since 2000. Their findings showed that not only is teletherapy just as effective as in-person therapy but it is often more accessible and affordable than traditional in-person therapy. Before that in 2009, another team of researchers analyzed a set of 148 peer-reviewed publications and found that both client outcomes and satisfaction ratings were high.
Is teletherapy safe?
For most regulatory agencies and clients, safety has been the top concern when considering teletherapy services. There are two kinds of safety to consider: virtual data and a client’s physical safety. To keep your private information private, it is important to ask your provider about the software they utilize, where they are physically located (public cafés are not ideal), and if they are using a private computer. It is also important for you as the client to find a private location with a personal computer, tablet, or phone. Headphones are also a good idea. If these simple factors are kept in mind, then teletherapy can be as safe as in-person care.
As for physical safety, it is important to thoroughly discuss crisis resources with your therapist in case you should ever need them. It is also a good idea, should there be an emergency, for you to identify a couple of family members or friends that your therapist can contact for back-up. While not required, doing this may be a good idea for your future safety.
Does Austin Anxiety and OCD Specialists provide teletherapy?
Yes! We offer both in-person therapy and teletherapy for anyone in the state of Texas.
Is Austin Anxiety’s teletherapy safe?
Yes! We only utilize teletherapy software that utilizes high-level encryption and security measures. You also won’t be seeing us with any coffee logos in the background. Whether it is in-person or via video-conference, we check in with our clients on a regular basis to ensure their treatment is meeting their expectations and that they are aware of available crisis resources.
How do I schedule a teletherapy session at Austin Anxiety and OCD Specialists?
Give us a call or click here to schedule an appointment online.
Article Written By: Rebecca Athanason, LCSW
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The Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council investigates and prosecutes professional misconduct committed by marriage and family therapists, professional counselors, psychologists, psychological associates, social workers, and licensed specialists in school psychology. Although not every complaint against or dispute with a licensee involves professional misconduct, the Executive Council will provide you with information about how to file a complaint.
Please call 1-800-821-3205 for more information.
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