• Laura Hagen

Telehealth Therapy: A Helpful Tool for Our Times

Everything from job interviews to birthday parties is moving online these days in response to the coronavirus pandemic - and that includes mental health counseling. To meet the demand for online services, our experienced Mindful Ways to Wellness practitioners are now offering sessions via telehealth to those in St. Pete, the Tampa Bay area, and beyond. If you want to connect with one of our mental health specialists or schedule a free 30-minute consultation click here. If you're wondering if therapy over video chat is as effective as in-person sessions, read on.

Research consistently shows that virtual therapy can deliver the same outcomes as in-person treatment for a variety of issues, including depression, anxiety disorders, stress-related problems, interpersonal difficulties, and PTSD. Practitioners have utilized this technology for over a decade to provide valuable support to those who have limited access to providers, live in rural areas, or are homebound. This is why this virtual tool is so well-suited to the pandemic situation; it provides accessibility to those practicing social distancing. Telehealth sessions are being used now more than ever to help those with existing mental health conditions, as well as those dealing with newly-elevated stress levels that could lead to anxiety or depression if left unchecked. This article will discuss why telehealth has become the leading mental health solution for our times and will also prove the technology's effectiveness by examining several studies from the last ten years.

A Solution for Our Times

More than a decade of research indicates that telehealth therapy is successful in treating a variety of mental health issues and is frequently used in a variety of circumstances. With this in mind, we can look at its advantages that are specific to the pandemic situation. COVID-19 has brought with it a myriad of difficult circumstances. Now more than ever, people need additional support in dealing with the uncertainty and various challenges that have arisen. First, the opportunity for continuous, high-level care for existing clients is critical. With telehealth available, no one should need to worry about losing the progress they had made toward their mental wellness.

Those who were not in therapy before the crisis can benefit as well. In a 2013 literature review, authors Perle and Neirenberg pointed out that telehealth can be a helpful proactive and preventive measure for those with general stress and low-level anxiety or depression. Telehealth sessions during times of heightened stress can help keep patients' difficulties from developing into more serious mental health issues.

This is important during the pandemic and its resulting social distancing measures. Many who had been able to successfully manage their stress levels may now be struggling to cope with new challenges like a lack of job security, increased isolation, fear and uncertainty, and the upheaval of work-life balance caused by quarantines. Being able to access a therapist for even a handful of sessions can help folks on their way to better coping mechanisms and healthier perspectives. Many practitioners even offer sliding scale payment options for clients during this trying time. Click here to reserve your free, 30-minute consultation with a qualified mental health clinician.

The benefits of telehealth for psychotherapy extend beyond our current situation, as well. The proven effectiveness of telehealth means that it can continue to be the best option for many people, even after lockdowns end. For example, virtual therapy allows for increased ability to receive counseling for those in rural and remote areas. Additionally, it improves access to therapy for many people regardless of location, including those with challenging work hours or those who struggle to find the energy and mental momentum necessary to make it to in-person sessions because of their depression and anxiety symptoms.

An Effective Approach

The convenience of telehealth would be meaningless, though, if it were not highly effective for treating psychological issues. Fortunately, its success has been shown by studies examining a number of different scenarios and mental health conditions. Depression treatment, in particular, is well-suited to virtual therapy.

One 2014 research paper, for example, focused on low-income, homebound older adults with depression (Choi et al.). All participants received six sessions of therapy, either via video chat or in-person with a follow-up care call. While both approaches were effective in treating depression, those receiving telehealth therapy did even better in the long term. As we all move into a semi-homebound state during lockdowns and social distancing, the isolation felt by seniors confined to their