Story by Dr. Lauren Fisher / Del Ray Psych
Currently fear, uncertainty, and the unknown has understandably increased anxiety and depression for most people. Individuals are suffering significant distress related to virus anxiety, racial trauma, economic, political, & family stress, and social isolation. More people than ever are considering teletherapy for assistance with managing stress, regulating emotions, improving communication and interpersonal patterns of behavior, and increasing their internal coping skills. A reasonable goal for 2020 is for individuals and families to keep themselves as emotionally healthy as possible while navigating fluctuating stressors.
How does teletherapy work?
Teletherapy works the same way as in-person therapy sessions. The process typically includes an intake session to discuss your needs, a treatment plan, and weekly sessions (approximately 1 hour in duration). The length of treatment varies depending on the needs of the client. Some therapy platforms, like Talkspace.com, may use a combination of text, audio, and video.
Is this teletherapy covered by insurance?
Most insurances are allowing and covering teletherapy during COVID-19. Call your insurance and check your benefits prior to starting the process.
Is teletherapy confidential and private?
Therapists use a range of HIPAA-Compliant video platforms, which can be accessed through computer, phone, or tablets. Sessions are best conducted in a quiet, private spot free from distractions, interruptions, and background noise.
Is teletherapy effective?
Research studies over the past 20 years indicate that teletherapy is just as effective as in-person sessions. However, some people may not feel like the format is the best fit.
What are some advantages of teletherapy?
Remote sessions allow you to be in the comfort of your own home and surroundings, saves you time from commuting, parking, and wait times for appointments, and it broadens your access to a more diverse range of professionals who can best serve your needs. During COVID-19, it allows you to receive healthcare without worrying about additional exposure to the virus.
What are some disadvantages of teletherapy?
Teletherapy is subject to computer glitches and internet disruptions from time to time. It may also feel awkward and not be the right fit for your needs. Teletherapy is traditionally not recommended for individuals with severe mental illness or for those in crisis. However, if there is no other option, any treatment is better than no treatment.
What is the best way to find a therapist?
I find Psychology Today (www.Psychologytoday.com) to be a great search engine because it allows you to search for therapists by location, insurance, and clinical needs. Whether it is via this engine or an internet service, be sure that the person you find is a licensed or pre-licensed mental health provider with expertise that matches your needs. Please be aware that the search for providers may be frustrating, as the demand for services is high in Northern Virginia. Keep emailing or calling, join waitlists, or extend your search to greater Virginia. Finding a therapist closer to your home is ideal in case the opportunity for in-person visits resumes at some point in the future. There are also a variety of online therapy services, such as Talk Space (www.talkspace.com), which may have more immediate availability. Lastly, the most important part of any good therapy process (online or in-person) is there is a good relational fit between the therapist and client. If it does not feel right, move on to someone new.
Dr. Lauren Fisher, Clinical Psychologist, is the co-owner of Del Ray Psych & Wellness, LLC, an Alexandria based practice that is currently offering teletherapy services for adults and couples.