Here in San Antonio, Texas, many of us became familiar with telehealth services thanks to COVID-19. A good chunk of our lives went virtual in 2020, including our healthcare. But telehealth and teletherapy is nothing new: they’ve been around since the 1990s! And studies show that teletherapy can be just as helpful as in-person therapy or counseling for many common counseling needs.
So, is it better to see a therapist in person or online?
The decision of whether or not it’s better to see a therapist in person or online should be based on what works best for you. There’s something wonderful that happens when people come together in-person, but connection is more than just shared physical space. The core qualities that make therapy so healing shouldn’t change whether or not you’re in person. These qualities include feeling heard, seen, understood, and supported.
Four advantages to teletherapy
Teletherapy does offer some advantages you might want to think about. Here are four reasons why teletherapy might be a good choice for you:
- Teletherapy is flexible. This means you might be able to connect with your counselor during a lunch break, or during off-hours like early morning or late evening.
- Teletherapy means you don’t have to worry about transportation. This means you don’t need access to a vehicle, and it saves you time that would have been spent in traffic or figuring out where to park. Teletherapy is great if you’re also conscious about reducing your carbon footprint.
- Teletherapy makes sharing resources easier. Clients who do counseling with me know that I love to screen-share so we can do activities together, watch videos, listen to music, or share links and website info for referrals.
- Teletherapy is portable. You don’t have to be in the same city as your therapist, and in cases where your therapist is also authorized to practice in other states, you might be able to continue working with your counselor if you move to another state. So if the working relationship with your therapist is really helping you, you don’t have to start over again with someone else just because you move.
Some tips for starting teletherapy
All you need is a private, quiet space for 30-50 minutes, depending on how long your sessions are. You’ll also need access to a computer, phone, or other electronic device to sign into your session. Make sure to not multitask: you don’t want to distract yourself from getting the most out of your session. Also, for safety reasons, don’t try to attend your session while driving. (Even if you’re going hands-free, see that last part about distractions!)
This being said, there are some situations and mental health issues where teletherapy might not be the best option. Also, if you have unreliable internet or tech, that can get in the way of you getting the most out of your experience. And if you just prefer having human-to-human experiences in shared spaces, that’s okay too! At the end of the day, your decision boils down to what works best for your unique needs and situation.