Online Therapy (Teletherapy)
Teletherapy is psychological therapy through telecommunications technologies (e.g., video conferencing or telephone).
There are many benefits to teletherapy, including teletherapy being easier to access by individuals in remote or rural areas who otherwise may not have mental health treatment available in their geographical location. Similarly, individuals with disabilities or who are unable to travel easily due to physical or mental health challenges are able to access services.
There is also the convenience of not having to drive a long distance, taking time out of your busy day, and adding to the stress you are already feeling. Moreover, some people find it difficult to navigate busy traffic for various reasons. Clients often appreciate alleviating the burden of additional travel. Your session starts at the scheduled time and ends 50 minutes later, hopefully leaving you more time to relax and enjoy life.
Many people also find it easier to discuss emotional and otherwise difficult topics in the comfort of familiar surroundings. It also alleviates potential concern of having to attend a psychologist’s office and sit in a waiting room where others may see you.
There are some potential disadvantages. One concern psychologists express is being less able to observe body language, but they are usually able to learn to better listen to the tone of voice. Of note, tone of voice is a key area and training for personal coaches. The second concern is the unreliability of technology when the service requires both the psychologist and the client to have an adequate Internet connection. However, arrangements can be made for a telephone session on those occasions when the technology breaks down, though this usually only requires at most an Internet modem or computer to be restarted. Finally, there our concerns regarding privacy and confidentiality. As such, teletherapy should never be done through everyday chat platforms (e.g., FaceTime, Skype) and there are specific medical virtual providers that provide sufficient encryption and meet requirements for privacy legislation in Canada (i.e., PHIPA, PIPEDA).