Virtual therapy, also known as online therapy or teletherapy, involves participating in therapy with a licensed psychologist or psychotherapist via electronic means, typically through interactive video sessions. Through teletherapy, clients have the opportunity to engage in the same effective treatments that they would receive in a therapist’s office, but with the added comfort and convenience of being at home.
Participating in Online Therapy
Participating in online therapy is very similar to attending in-person therapy sessions. Before getting started in teletherapy, you will attend a virtual intake session so the therapist can gather background information and learn more about your current concerns. After an initial assessment and if it is determined that online therapy is a good fit, it is common for clients to attend weekly 45-minute teletherapy sessions, although the frequency and length of sessions can vary depending on individual needs. Whether you or your child or adolescent are meeting with a virtual therapist to address anxiety, behavioral issues, parenting challenges, or other concerns, teletherapy offers evidence-based tools and support to meet your treatment goals.
Benefits of Virtual Therapy
First and foremost, online therapy works! Most research demonstrates that teletherapy is as effective as in-person therapy for addressing many areas of mental health, such as anxiety and other challenges. Virtual therapy also offers clients an opportunity to practice skills in real-life environments outside of a therapist’s office. For example, exposure therapy is an evidence-based anxiety treatment that entails practicing skills and gradually facing feared situations until anxiety decreases. Through online therapy, clients can receive support from their virtual therapist in real-time by bringing their electronic device with them into anxiety-producing situations in various environments inside or outside of the home.
When your day-to-day activities already involve juggling work or school-related commitments and family responsibilities, while also trying to maintain a social life, teletherapy eliminates the stress of spending valuable time traveling to a therapist’s office to receive quality support and care. Additionally, in this day and age, many of us are already accustomed to interacting and building relationships online. This may make it easier for you or your child to develop a therapeutic relationship with an online therapist and open up about challenging topics from a private and comfortable space at home.
Questions to Ask Your Online Therapist Before Starting Teletherapy:
1. Do you use a secure video platform for teletherapy sessions?
While no method of communication is completely foolproof, therapists are required to make reasonable efforts to protect the confidentiality of your healthcare information regardless of whether they are working with you in person or virtually. Ask your therapist if they are using a secure video platform for teletherapy sessions, as well as what steps you can both take to enhance the security of your communications.
2. Will there be a plan in place in the event of an emergency or technology failure?
An online therapist typically cannot provide emergency services and may be unable to engage in teletherapy with clients who are in a crisis situation requiring high levels of support and intervention. Nonetheless, most virtual therapists develop a plan for managing technology failures or medical or mental health emergencies that may arise during the course of a teletherapy session. Ask your therapist about collaborating on such a plan at the outset of therapy.
3. Have you completed a telemental health certification program?
While there is no legal requirement for online therapists to complete a telehealth certification program, therapists that have participated in such a program are demonstrating their strong commitment to the effective delivery of virtual mental health services. This certification represents that the therapist has completed a training program and passed exams regarding standards of practice for teletherapy in order to help you get the most out of your virtual sessions.
If you are a resident of New York or Connecticut and are considering therapy for yourself or your child or teen, contact Positive Development Psychology at 914-432-4000 or at info@PositiveDevelopmentPsychology.com to learn how we can help.