Does Teletherapy Work? How to make the most of your telehealth sessions

Many people lament teletherapy because it is one more symbol of what we can’t do during this pandemic. Some people don’t prefer this method because they miss the in-person connection and being able to hug their counselor after sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings. Of course! We feel the same way.

Also, clients often associate their therapists’ office as a safe and healing space. It is a respite from the chaos of everyday life where people can focus on creating robust emotional wellbeing. It is understandable to miss this during this time of teletherapy sessions.

To boot, with so much more time on electronics during this quarantine, with people working and schooling from home, people report feeling headachy and exhausted from it. So, when your self-care requires more screentime, it is hard not to be frustrated.

Benefits outweigh the cons

However, the benefits of teletherapy (over no therapy) far outweigh any of the above frustrations. Here is why:

You need to stay connected to what was important to you before the quarantine to keep a sense of routine. Prioritizing emotional wellness of yourself and your family is key to surviving this with minimal collective trauma.

Feeling helpless and overwhelmed is a regular human reaction to the context of this experience. To counter that, we need some validation and compassion for our feelings. There is so much loss right now, that we have to consistently be healing it to maintain a positive mental attitude. This empowered outlook will help us feel in control, and therefore take action to have more control over our days.

Read this sweet article about the surprising intimacy in telehealth sessions in the Washington Post!

Teletherapy is accessible wherever you are!

A therapist is a coach for getting through difficulty, who better would you like to have on your side right now? Sometimes people wait too long to get professional help because they think they have to do it on their own or that therapy is just for people with “mental illness.” Therapists have the potential to help people get through hard times faster, with more gentleness and consciousness.

Also, current losses bring up past losses. When those arise, it is better to heal them than to push them back down!

Teletherapy is not as bad as you think it will be. In therapy, people tell stories, find and shift beliefs, practice mindset skills, share thoughts, plan, and imagine their future. This conversation happens in the matrix of a person’s mind. While it is a bonus to be with someone in-person, it is not essential.

(Therapists are essential workers. While technically we can see someone in-person, our liability insurance says that we need a “clinical reason” to see them in person to protect ourselves should we get sued if someone gets sick in our office. They have clarified “because it is better” will not protect us, so we must continue teletherapy for now!)

Sheltering in Place

When you are sheltering with family:

Being in such close quarters brings out all of the shizzle. People feel tapped out trying to adapt to so many limits and so much change and may take this stress out on the people around them. Especially for couples. Couples who had conflict before quarantine, most likely will have some conflict during the quarantine. The anxiety of the pandemic, financial stress, and lack of autonomy can make things even worse. But there are many exceptions to this as time together has brought some couples closer than ever. Stress creates a spectrum of responses.

On one end, people claim their personal power by being giving and open, contributing to improved relationships. On the other end, people try to get control over others to settle their anxiety, causing increased conflict, or at the extreme, domestic abuse. Somewhere in the middle, people might act immobilized by their sense of powerlessness and withdraw from their significant others, causing the other to feel unloved or unworthy. A therapist can help partners choose their response in ways that will make their relationship stronger, and them happier. 

When you are alone:

Social isolation can really affect your heart and mind. Humans are social beings and so not meant to live in small groups, let alone live totally alone. When you are alone, the negativity in your head gets worse without someone to pull you out of there. Being isolated tests your sense of worth, and you can feel abandoned and rejected even when you haven’t been. It can seem like everyone else is with people and you are the only one in the universe alone.

How do you know that you need teletherapy?

If you are struggling emotionally, be kind, and compassionate with yourself. Don’t put the high expectations on yourself that you have to figure it all out alone. As social beings humans need others.

Therapists help you think about your pain and problems differently changing the meaning around them to ease the suffering. They help to notice your emotional blocks and clear them, so you can do the things that you want to do in your life. And, they help you release and change limiting beliefs that hurt you.

This is how you know if you ought to seek professional help or not, ask yourself: Are you suffering? Do you want to keep suffering?

Watch this video to see if you need professional help:

When people experience problems, they keep questioning the problem. This keeps people from healing. Therapists can help people immediately understand what is going on so they can know what to do about it sooner.

Making the most of your teletherapy session

Give teletherapy a try if you haven’t already. Therapists are available and poised to help right now. This is a great time to try counseling because in many places there are no copays due to the pandemic. Keep in mind, when the practitioner is comfortable, it makes the session as productive as an in-person session! I have been doing video sessions for many years and I think my familiarity helps my clients get the most out of it. So if it is not working with your counselor but you want the support, it is okay to try someone else, even if it is just temporary.

Improve your comfort during the session, be prepared. Prop the phone or device eye-level so you can be comfortable and you don’t have to hold it. Pick a chair you feel cozy in. Remember to have your device charged ahead so you don’t have to be beholden to the plug. Have a glass of water next to you in case you get thirsty. Be in a room with a closed-door if possible so you feel free to be open with your practitioner. Or at least have a wall behind you so you can look into the room to see if and when someone is listening.  Know your preferences: Do you like earphones or no earphones? Pretend that you are in the same room talking to them. Some therapists are new to teletherapy. Share when they are poorly lit, or sitting too far from their screen.

Let me know if you have more questions about getting help! I’m on Facebook every Monday at 11 am Eastern answering your questions live.

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3 thoughts on “Does Teletherapy Work? How to make the most of your telehealth sessions”

  1. I LOVE theletherapy.
    I have seen so many different therapists over the years and only one used to give me a hug before leaving the session (maybe because she wasn’t a therapist, but an advisor in a women’s shelter). Never a therapist. The therapist I have been with wouldn’t even shake hands, just stare at me.
    Why I love theletherapy because I am much more comfortable and “in control”. I can switch the camera off if I need to. I don’t know how to explain it, but whenever I needed to share something that was difficult for me to talk about, even if to a friend, I would just say I’ll text it. And I would type it. When on skype, Pat knew when I switch the camera off, it means I have something to say that is hard to tell face to face.

  2. In these times of pandemic, teletherapy is a must. There is so much stress and trauma to cope up with, staying confined and alone that an outlet is essential and a professional teletherapist is better equipped and positioned to understand our deep routed and sometimes hidden emotions. I loved your article and completely agree with you.
    John Gatesby recently posted..Do I Have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)?My Profile

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