Teletherapy and Online Counseling at Gateway to Solutions
Teletherapy (aka online counseling) refers to the use of telecommunication technologies, such as videoconferencing or phone-calls, used to connect individuals with their mental healthcare providers. Over the years and with the advancement of technology, telecommunications have grown and evolved. Instead of people relying on landline telephones, videoconferencing has become the new go-to. This allows remotely held sessions to be nearly identical to the traditional in-person sessions, except for instead of meeting in an office, you are meeting virtually – using computers, tablets, or phones – to meet with therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists.
By using secure, HIPAA compliant platforms, individuals are able to continue receiving services and communicating in real-time with their service provider. This useful alternative in a variety of circumstances—one of the most universally relevant ones being life in the wake of COVID-19. As we watched the world shut down and found new ways of living our daily lives while sheltering in place, many mental healthcare providers turned to telehealth. During these past few months, telehealth has enabled clients to continue seeing their licensed or certified therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists—despite the inability to meet in an office—and has allowed those in the search of a therapist to connect and begin their therapeutic journeys.
Teletherapy can be an appropriate alternative to meeting in-person in numerous other situations as well. For example, remote communication is a great way to connect individuals with providers who would otherwise be too far away to meet with, which increases the services available to people. And, according to research studies, telehealth can be just as effective as face-to-face therapy and often an acceptable substitute (1), leading to improved client outcomes and client satisfaction ratings (2).
So, when is telehealth an appropriate alternative? The convivence and flexibility that teletherapy offers makes it a great option for clients of all age—including children, adolescents, and adults—dealing with a variety of issues—such as mild-moderate anxiety, depression, stress (3). Additionally, a diverse range of therapeutic services can be delivered remotely, such as individual therapy, group therapy, couples’ therapy, family therapy, medication management, and psychiatric evaluations and diagnoses.
Just like every method of service delivery, there are some exceptions as to when teletherapy is appropriate to use. For instance, teletherapy should not be used in crisis situations, such as when an individual is experiencing suicidal or homicidal thoughts. It may also not be appropriate when clients would better benefit from close and direct treatment or in-person intervention; for example, individuals experiencing serious addictions or severe symptoms of psychological disorders.
Gateway to Solutions has been offering teletherapy to clients for some time on numerous HIPAA compliant platforms—such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams—making for a smooth transition to a fully remote-practice during the height of COVID-19. To contact mental health expert for live or teletherapy sessions please visit:
By: Caroline Brown, LMSW