“As much as loneliness can hurt us, social connection seems to not only undo these effects, but it can protect our health and mental health is many ways. Numerous studies have looked at the connection between social connection and well-being, and all find that the one predicts the other.” Alice G. Walton
One of the latest benefits of modern technology is the ability for clients to receive psychotherapy from geographically far locations via webcam. Specifically, many psychotherapists are embarking on adding telemental health to their practice offerings. Webcam-based counseling (offered through secure, encrypted portals like Simple Practice) offers many advantages to clients who otherwise might not be able to access a needed session. Read on for why online counseling may be an option for your needs:
1.Reduces/Eliminates Drive Time: Telemental health provides psychotherapy services for clients who may not be able to travel to their therapist’s office due to geographic distance. For example, many of my clients are located across town in a major metropolitan area where traffic might take 2 hours to get to my office. We may meet in person the first session, but then subsequently schedule webcam-based sessions so that my clients don’t have the headache of navigating freeways during rush hour. In addition, webcam-based counseling allows me to provide counseling for clients that are in different cities within my state, and I also have no commute for those particular clients.
2. Connects Clients with Therapists Who Have Specific Niches and Specialties: A client may need a therapist who specializes in a certain form of counseling for eating disorders or parent guidance for special needs parenting. If that client does not live geographically close by to the therapist, webcam based counseling connects the service with the consumer with relative ease.
3. Global Reach. Many therapists also have coaching practices which include psychoeducation, coping skills, resources, and targeted homework assignments that are related to their in-state practice. However, by expanding to a life coaching practice, clinicians can also work with clients all over the world in a life coaching capacity. Clients who may not have therapists/life coaches in their country/community then have the opportunity to work with some of the best in their field. (Obviously, clinicians must stay within legal/ethical bounds of each type of helping modality, whether life coaching or psychotherapy).
4. Access for Those with Physical Limitations: Some clients may be home-bound due to medical reasons (i.e. bedrest with a pregnancy complication, mobility issues after hip replacement surgery, recovering from chemotherapy and can’t drive, etc). Webcam based counseling can be a good option for those clients who have difficulty with physical movement (either on a temporary basis or a chronic condition).
5. Integrated Care Might Be an Option: Some helping professionals use HIPAA compliant, encrypted portals like Simple Practice or Therapy Notes, which include the web-cam portal. This option is important because the client can be assured of confidentiality that is not present in Skype or FaceTime apps. In addition, webcam-based online groups are also being offered by some helping professionals related to specific subjects clients may need additional support with (i.e. mindfulness meditation online psychoeducation group in addition to individual therapy for OCD). Simple Practice and other online electronic medical records also synthesize communication with the client so that homework assignments, audiovisual tools, electronic communication is all bundled into one confidential electronic forum.
Please note that for clients that require modalities that are in-person, such as EMDR or expressive arts work, telementalhealth counseling will not be an option. In addition, for clients with acute symptoms such as suicidality or severe panic, telementalhealth counseling would not be clinically indicated.
TelebehavioralHealth Institute: telehealth.org
Retrieved on 6/10/2019: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2018/10/30/7-ways-loneliness-and-connectedness-affect-mental-health/#64c745d9e1dc