How Teletherapy Can Improve Patient Outcomes

How Teletherapy can improve patient outcomes

One of the biggest obstacles in managing mental health problems is the lack of access to treatment. In many areas, the average person simply doesn’t have many options for counseling. Sometimes, they may not have any accessible therapists. However, that is changing thanks to a massive increase in telehealth services.

Now, rather than having to visit a counselor in person, you can connect via a video call. In 2022, estimates from the American Psychological Association showed that around 96% of psychologists now see at least some of their patients virtually. Over the past few years, studies have proven that virtual therapy effectiveness is almost equivalent to that of in-person sessions. Even patient satisfaction and dropout rates were largely the same, proving that the system could provide care for many more people without sacrificing quality.

Teletherapy does have some limitations, and some professionals and clients have issues with the system. However, improving access to counseling is one of the most important steps we can take to ensure patients everywhere have better outcomes.

Below, we’ll discuss all of the benefits of online counseling, as well as the potential issues, and explore how this could affect the psychological world.

Strengths and Benefits of Remote Therapy

As we’ve already mentioned a few times, accessibility is one of the top reasons for teletherapy becoming far more prevalent. However, it doesn’t stop at geographic access to counseling. Millions of people have certain circumstances that could prevent them from seeking in-person help. Maybe they have a condition that limits their mobility, a mental health issue that stops them from leaving their home, or even something as simple as being unable to fit typical therapy into a busy schedule.

Video therapy is far more convenient and almost anyone can utilize it. You no longer need to take the time to travel to an office, find a babysitter, or take off time from work. All you have to do is find a time slot that works for you and call in.

Plus, the access to quality professionals is far better. Under typical circumstances, a person seeking counseling has a handful of psychologists to choose from. This can be immensely problematic for a number of reasons. Perhaps you prefer a female counselor, but only males are available in your area. You would either have to deal with it or go without care. In many areas, LGBTQ+ clients are unable to find affirming therapists. Even beyond these, as unfortunate a truth as it may be, not every psychologist is a perfect professional who provides optimal care. Maybe they are a good therapist, but the two of you simply don’t mesh well.

Telehealth eliminates those barriers, opening you up to an entire world of quality professionals, so you can find someone who suits your needs.

Furthermore, for some people, privacy is a major sticking point. Traveling to someone else’s office and talking about yourself can make you feel very vulnerable. Teletherapy lets you call in from a location where you feel safe and comfortable.

Limitations of Teletherapy

While virtual therapy is a great boon to many people, it still has certain limitations for both the client and the psychologist. Most notably, the possibility for distraction is higher when not in a more clinical setting. From your phone to messages on your computer, it can be difficult to keep your mind focused on the session.

Some psychologists have also found that they miss certain physical cues that can reveal a lot about how their clients are feeling.

Telehealth also requires at least one device with a camera and a solid, private internet connection. While this is quite common, it is still not guaranteed—especially in lower-income or rural areas. Plus, the application itself may have glitches or bugs. Even great connections can have delays which could make sessions more stressful.

Additionally, psychologists have far fewer options to directly support clients who need it. For example, someone who might be a danger to themselves or others may require more care than is available through virtual therapy.

And, while teletherapy patient outcomes are usually positive and equal to in-person, the communication method isn’t for everyone. Some people do not do well with digital communication and this style of therapy will not work for them.

What to Expect from Online Counseling

In many ways, a teletherapy session is similar to traditional therapy. In-person therapy does not typically require physical touch or laboratory tests—except in specific cases—so it’s quite easy to replicate the experience through a video call.

The approach is also similar to in-person counseling. There will be a few sessions where you and your therapist get to know each other better and discuss what your goals are. In following calls, your psychologist will dive deeper and make recommendations that could help you manage whatever issues you’re experiencing.

However, rather than doing so in person, you may be asked to download a specific app such as Zoom, Skype, or Discord. Some therapists may even offer FaceTime or similar options. However, in general, most professionals use a specific web portal instead of a dedicated application. Many prefer this approach because of the ability to encrypt and protect the video calls. If you’re not familiar with the tool you will use, it can be helpful to take a few minutes to look up some guides or advice on how to use it properly. This way you can avoid any hiccups during the actual session.

Depending on the provider, some may even offer to provide therapy over a simple phone call, though this does introduce many other issues that a video chat avoids. Some groups offer therapy through texts, emails, or chat applications, but the average person should be wary of these services. Often, these companies do not employ licensed professionals or do not take steps to ensure your privacy.

That being said, a qualified and professional psychologist may offer these methods of communication to specific people who have issues that would otherwise make a telehealth session too difficult.

If you have any concerns or questions, many psychologists are extremely understanding and are willing to help you find a way to make the whole experience more comfortable. Feel free to ask about what steps they are taking to protect your confidentiality and avoid other people viewing sessions or peeking at notes. Ultimately, this is about your care, so your input is the most important.

At Restore Mental Health, we strive to always be at the forefront of mental health care. We will be launching a telehealth service to better care for those who need our professional experience. If you’d like to know more about this service or if you need care now, contact us today and our experts will discuss how we can help you most.