Online Therapy During Coronavirus

In just four months, coronavirus has changed the world drastically. Thousands have died, millions have lost their jobs, stock prices keep fluctuating, world economies are struggling to rebound, and everyone is uncertain if and when things will return to normal. The resulting grief, insecurity, and general uncertainty have raised anxiety and stress levels to a new high. Therapy is needed now more than ever. However, due to stay-at-home orders, partial or total lockdowns, and closure of private and non-essential businesses, physical meetings with a therapist are more or less impossible. Teletherapy, or online therapy, provides a solution for this dilemma.

Online therapy in Baltimore – what is it?

Online therapy is therapy done via telephone or videoconferencing. Remote therapy sessions done over the phone or via video calls are becoming the new normal. Teletherapy has existed for close to a decade but was not typically utilized to this degree because most therapists simply prefer meeting their clients in person when possible.

Now, findings and reports indicate that within the past four months, virtually every practicing therapist has transitioned to online therapy sessions with clients. But how effective is this new-found wave of remote therapy?

Challenges with Online Therapy

An effective therapy session thrives on a ‘connection’ between the therapist and the client. Physically being present can help tap into the energy and connection that is present in the room. Some people fail to find that metaphysical connection over a computer screen, and others just can’t connect with a faceless voice on the phone. This can make teletherapy quite challenging. Apart from lacking that caring physical presence to help calm your anxieties and worries, other challenges that can make remote therapy ineffectual or even impossible include:

  • High internet connectivity costs.
  • Lack of privacy at home. If you don’t live alone, you might find it uncomfortable to discuss your fears openly with your therapist for fear someone might hear you.
  • Distractions (these could be from your pets, pop-up notifications on your phone or computer, or even your kids).
  • Poor Wi-Fi connection and the resulting lags can take away from the whole experience.

Even therapists can have a difficult time adapting to this new mode of therapy. It might be harder to read non-verbal cues and body languages of clients. As a result, questions become more pointed and direct.

Benefits of Online Therapy

With all these challenges, you might begin to wonder: Does online therapy really work? The answer is: Yes, it does.

Studies and research have shown that:

  • Compared to traditional (face-to-face) therapy, online therapy produces similar, and sometimes better, outcomes.
  • Online therapy can and has been used in a variety of situations with diverse individuals, and the results were generally satisfactory.
  • Online therapy is effective in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
  • Online therapy patients are more consistent and faithful in following the treatment routine.
  • Most importantly, online therapy is a safer option in cases of disease outbreaks and pandemics.

In fact, several therapists have recorded an increase in the number of new patients seeking online therapy services and a correspondent increase in the level of client satisfaction.

While it is normal to immediately notice the absence of a solid and comforting physical presence in the room during a teletherapy session, a capable, caring, and supportive therapist makes it possible to forget that fact within minutes. The computer screen disappears and the positive emotions and empathy emanating from your therapist engulf you like a warm, comforting blanket.

Tips for Signing Up for Online Therapy

If you are interested in online therapy, here are some important steps to follow:

  • If you have a therapist prior to COVID-19, find out if they are presently offering online therapy services. Chances are, they are!
  • If you don’t have a therapist, check out the list of teletherapy providers in your state.
  • Ensure the therapist is trained in online therapy and also licensed to offer services in the state you currently reside.
  • Check to see if teletherapy is covered by your medical insurance. If it is, make sure you find out the options available to you and the rules of reimbursement, and relay this information to your therapist.
  • When prepping for your first session, pick a secure and private place with minimal distractions.
  • To prevent anyone from listening in on your conversation, use a white noise machine, such as a fan, if possible.
  • For security reasons, ensure your therapist is using HIPAA-compliant platform. This ensures the privacy and confidentiality of any information you disclose.
  • Use a strong internet connection. That way, interference and lags are minimized.

As with many things, online therapy has its pros and cons. But its benefits far exceed any challenges encountered. Some health experts believe online therapy is best suited as a supplementary form of therapy to augment the main physical sessions. Others view it as a dependable backup plan, for example, when a client has traveled to another location and needs to speak with her or his therapist urgently. But in a world going increasingly digital and where social distancing is the new norm, online therapy is a great way to receive support and therapy services!

Contact New Connections Counseling Center for help.

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Baltimore, MD 21210

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