- Remote therapy is creating some important opportunities for helping with mental health issues during the pandemic
During the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth saw a huge surge in popularity as patients did their best to avoid in-person appointments whenever possible and doctors offered alternatives to keep everyone safer. Obviously, only some healthcare services can be administered via telehealth, but the expanded availability of options like remote therapy is making it easier than ever for people to get the care and support they need.
Despite some concerns about privacy, data security, and payments, many therapists and patients are embracing the trend of remote therapy. Here’s how online mental health care is helping people all over the country during this ongoing crisis and will continue to help in the future.
Remote Therapy and Addressing Patient’s Needs
Many therapists help patients simply by talking to them and helping them work through their experiences and emotions. While many people decided to get help for the first time during the pandemic to cope with their stress and anxiety, others have relied on therapy for years and were forced to shift to remote care.
Everyone has different experiences and needs when it comes to therapy. Childhood trauma is quite common and can have long-term effects on mental health during adulthood. Other people have mental health disorders requiring long-term support.
The good news is that most patients can continue seeing their preferred therapist virtually and address their individual mental health needs. Most people can still benefit from online therapy, even if the experience doesn’t feel quite the same.
The Benefits of Remote Therapy
There are many benefits of remote therapy. Some patients are thrilled with the shift to online therapy, thanks to the convenience and privacy of appointments at home. After all, when you don’t need to drive to a therapist’s office, you save time and avoid dealing with stressors like traffic.
Remote therapy also has the benefit of making care more accessible, especially to vulnerable communities. Many people living in rural areas or places without access to public transportation are now able to seek support from a qualified therapist. People with mobility issues are also able to access care without additional challenges.
Some insurers have expanded coverage to include remote therapy due to the need for additional telehealth services during the pandemic. This has led to more people getting access to crucial mental health services that increase their well-being. Online services can also be cheaper, as therapists don’t have to pay overhead on office space.
Another benefit of remote therapy is reduced stigma. Patients don’t need to feel self-conscious about sitting in the waiting room because there is no waiting room! This helps more people get the help and support they need when they need it the most.
The Challenges of Tele-Therapy
While remote therapy has been a game-changer for some, there are also some drawbacks that shouldn’t be ignored. While expanded coverage has become more common across the country, some insurance companies are still not paying for remote therapy appointments. Not all states require this coverage and insurance companies in these areas can create their own policies.
Additionally, there are still concerns about privacy and data safety, since therapy sessions must be kept confidential. Healthcare organizations are prime targets for hackers as they safeguard sensitive patient data. Breaches are common and can open patients up to identity theft and other cybercrimes, despite many large organizations hiring teams responsible for cybersecurity.
Remote therapy also isn’t ideal for emergency situations or for people with serious mental illnesses. There’s a limit to what a therapist can do virtually to help someone in a crisis or who may be experiencing complex symptoms.
Finally, some people just don’t feel the online experience is as helpful as in-person therapy. Being able to sit across from someone and observe their body language is helpful to therapists and many patients feel more connected when they have their appointments in person.
Virtual Therapy Will Outlast the Pandemic
Now that access and support for telehealth have expanded during the pandemic, we can expect to see remote therapy become a permanent option for patients. Not everyone will want to continue with virtual visits, but those who have trouble going to in-person appointments or simply prefer the convenience will probably be able to make that choice. The pandemic has been long, grueling, and tough on our collective mental health. Therapists have been working overtime to support their patients and help them get through this time. One of the silver linings, however, is that more people than ever will have access to quality mental healthcare now and in the future.