How Teletherapy Compares to Office Sessions: Factors to Consider
As I have increased my delivery of counseling services via teletherapy, I have noticed how clients are responding to and expressing appreciation for its many distinctive features. If you are unfamiliar with or feeling uncertain about teletherapy, you might consider these factors…
Still “Face-to-Face”: Teletherapy sessions can provide the same quality of counseling experience as in-person / office sessions. Since teletherapy creates a “face to face” encounter, albeit in virtual-audio/video mode, you can still experience all the elements of building an effective therapeutic alliance with your counselor. You may feel even more comfortable doing this from the familiar surroundings of your home or office, without the stresses and strains of traveling to and from another location.
Greater Range of Potential Counselors: You might be seeking a counselor with a particular background, therapeutic style, or specialized skills, but you are finding a limited number of candidates within your local community, driving radius, or scheduling parameters. Teletherapy can increase the number of prospective counselors to consider, enhancing your chances of finding someone with whom you can build the most effective rapport.
Confidentiality and Privacy: Teletherapy sessions are just as confidential as in-office visits through the use of modern video conferencing platforms with secure encryption. The telemedicine platforms such as Doxy.me and Zoom can provide a HIPAA-compliant video portal that is easily accessible on your laptop, tablet or smartphone.
Familiar Settings and the “Doorway Effect”: Instead of being a visitor to the counselor’s office, with teletherapy your counselor becomes a “temporary guest” in your personal domain. Being in your familiar surroundings after a session can also help increase your retention and application of what you learned by reducing the distractions of the “doorway effect.” This phenomenon was identified in studies from 2011 which reveal how walking through one or more doorways seems to “re-set” some part of our cognitive awareness, making us forget what we had been thinking or even feeling just moments before. This helps explain how people respond after a teletherapy session concludes, and they can remain sitting in a familiar and personal setting. Individuals can reflect on insights gained, and couples often continue a productive and emotionally intimate dialogue with each other.
Reduction of Scheduling and Transportation Obstacles: The convenience of teletherapy can be particularly appreciated to relieve the challenges of these types of situations:
- You’re feeling exhausted from your long day and would rather head back to the comfort of your home than drive to another office appointment.
- You’re frequently delayed by work or family care obligations, making it hard to navigate rush hour traffic and still arrive on time.
- If you’re at home with one or more young children and can’t find a babysitter, you might still be able to engage in a teletherapy session while your children are safely occupied in another room.
- Your partner lives, works or travels out of the area, sometimes making it hard to coordinate schedules for a couples’ session. While having have both partners sitting in the same place is preferable for teletherapy, sometimes a three-way video-call can help a couple maintain their progress (compared to a longer gap between sessions).