Letter to the Editor
Enthusiasm for teletherapy is evident. Its value is aptly illustrated in Lindsey Getz’s recent article in Social Work Today titled “SUD Teletherapy — Bridging the Treatment Gap.” Likewise, a 2016 World Journal of Psychiatry study found evidence suggesting teletherapy is comparable to same-location services in terms of reliability of clinical assessments and treatment outcomes.
Technological advances are leading to the widespread availability, affordability, and popularity of teletherapy. It is being used to meet the needs of hard-to-reach individuals and communities, helping to overcome geographical and economic barriers. The obstacles include inability to physically attend therapy due to work schedule, transportation difficulties, childcare responsibilities, and fear of facing a therapist in person.
The accessibility and flexibility of teletherapy is not only relevant to those seeking therapy, as Getz points out. Therapists can also take advantage of these benefits.
As circumstances changed and I entered an administrative job with a nonprofit, finding time to see clients diminished and my psychotherapy practice dwindled. I was curious and interested in alternative ways to build my practice. An easy-to-use, high-quality, and HIPAA compliant teletherapy platform was appealing. It provided me the opportunity to reach more clients within my specialty area and to enhance my clinical skills in new and innovative ways.
The essential conditions for an effective therapeutic relationship can still be achieved through teletherapy. My virtual setting is set up to aid the treatment process by creating an authentic and comfortable atmosphere. The technology being used still allows me to observe body language and visual cues. Several considerations are given including the camera angle, lighting, and background sound.
Some clients opt to have sessions while they go for a walk, from a private spot in their home, or when distractions are not present. At times, clients may conceal parts of their face during a difficult moment or when experiencing a strong emotion. Even when the focus turns from visual to voice, one’s speech is still rich with observable meaning. With clients deciding how to feel safer in their own personal space, concerns are more freely self-disclosed and problems more willingly confronted. Perhaps this contributes to feeling empowered and optimistic to make positive changes and healthier choices.
Through teletherapy, short spurts of time can be used to conduct sessions by simply flipping on a screen. Teletherapy allows me to conveniently coordinate schedules and accommodate evening, early morning, weekend, and holiday hours, as well as same day requests. No longer do I need to debate traveling into an office for single sessions. Teletherapy makes it easy to sign on, complete a session, and remain home.
This convenience helps the client be punctual wherever they are, reducing any wait times. It allows me to extend my schedule to see more clients without diminishing quality of care.
Teletherapy opens opportunities for therapists. For me it has added flexibility and increased access by opening timeslots; for many it has been the ideal method to achieve personal growth.
— Barry Granek