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Telehealth: Awesome or Awkward?



Covid-19 has changed the face of telehealth psychotherapy, possibly forever. Where once this medium was considered less favorable than in-person sessions, the global pandemic has made it the new normal way of conducting therapy.


The big question on my mind today: is telehealth an awesome new addition to our lives, or is it just awkward and weird?



THE UPSIDES

Better access to services and to providers. With telehealth, you aren't limited to just providers in your area; you can choose a therapist who lives almost anywhere and focus more on finding a good fit rather than finding someone nearby. This is particularly critical for clients who live in rural areas where access to services is limited. This is probably the greatest benefit of telehealth services, in my opinion.


It's super convenient. You don't have to dress up in fancy clothes, pay for transportation, or worry about not getting to your appointment on time. Parents or caretakers also don't need to get sitters or make care arrangements, because you're right at home.


You're in a familiar environment. Many people feel uncomfortable talking about personal matters in an office space. With telehealth, you can receive therapy from the comfort of your own home surroundings, even have your beloved pet with you during difficult moments in therapy. You also have the option to take a walk to a nice park or other pleasant outdoor space and enjoy your sessions there.


It's good for some types of social anxiety. Sometimes being in a room with unfamiliar people can feel strange if you suffer from social anxiety. Distance care can feel a little safer for some people, especially people who feel uncomfortable leaving home.



THE DOWNSIDES


Camera and tech stuff is freaking weird. Let's face it, it's really uncomfortable to be constantly looking at yourself during a meeting. It's distracting, and it's sometimes hard to resist the urge to groom or adjust yourself. Plus, tech issues can happen that make it hard for participants to hear or see each other, which can easily derail sessions.


Privacy issues. Depending on how you live, there may not be a safe, quiet, or private place for you to have therapy sessions. Children, pets, and household members can cause unwanted disturbances.


Access to technology. For people with fewer economic resources, getting access to a phone, computer, or good internet connection can be very challenging. Without the tech components, telehealth just isn't possible to deliver. This is also true for some elderly people or folks who aren't tech-savvy enough to get the hang of it. The caveat here is that telehealth does include sessions by phone, which may be less difficult to manage for people with access issues.


Lack of human connection. If you're like me, you're all about energy, and it's so difficult to feel the energy of the room or of the person you're working with when you are so far away. Sometimes not sharing the same space can make sessions feel stilted or strange, especially if you and your therapist have never met in person. This is perhaps the biggest drawback for me personally!



FINAL THOUGHTS

For me, telehealth is a mixed bag for both clients and therapists. Whether or not it's a good fit depends heavily on individual preferences as well as access to services, privacy, and technology. For my practice, I try to focus on taking advantage of the positive aspects while acknowledging the hardships my clients face with telehealth and doing what I can to mitigate the drawbacks. As I do not yet have an office, telehealth will remain as a central part of my work for a long time to come, so I have to do my best to make it a beneficial experience for clients.


What are your thoughts on telehealth therapy? Add your comments or questions below.






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