Online counseling, telemental health, telehealth therapy — all of these refer to psychological counseling, therapy, and support provided through the Internet. Counselors and support staff deliver their services through video conferencing, voice calls, email, or instant messaging.
More people have needed these services since the coronavirus pandemic started. The uncertainty of the future, fear of getting sick, and loneliness due to mandatory social distancing and quarantine have taken their toll on everyone. People who frequent discussion boards can attest to this: there have been so many people asking for advice from strangers, airing out their frustrations and fears, and asking how to find a therapist on Reddit, for example (although some are outright getting free therapy on Reddit).
While psychological experts believe that it is indeed beneficial to talk to strangers, it’s still better to seek therapy from experienced psychologists.
The New Normal of Therapy
Whether you have a therapist you’ve been talking to regularly or it’s your first time attending a one-on-one therapy session, you’re most likely going to have telehealth sessions from here onwards. The experience could take some getting used to, especially for those who are more comfortable talking with their therapists regularly, in person.
What Happens in a Telehealth Therapy Session?
Here are some of the things you must expect to prepare you for your first online counseling session.
- Confirmation of consent – Only the venue or medium through which the counseling session takes place changes. Theoretically, everything else stays the same. Like with face-to-face sessions, for example, we will ask telehealth patients to sign informed consent. It is an agreement that says the client understands the risks and benefits of online counseling and will participate in their treatment.
- Confidentiality – This is another agreement between therapists and clients to keep their conversation strictly between them. It’s not just the counselor’s responsibility but also the client’s. Hence, when you attend an online counseling session, you need to put on earphones or headphones. It’s necessary for maintaining your privacy and preventing strangers from listening-in on your session.
- Distance – People who used to talk to a therapist regularly before the pandemic may find online consultations very different from face-to-face meetings. You and the therapist might feel a little distant and awkward at the beginning of the session. You might feel less inclined, for example, to share what’s on your mind. As the patient, you need to overcome them because they are roadblocks to a fruitful session. The therapist will carry much of the burden, but they will only succeed if you’ll also meet them halfway.
- Technological Integration – We can’t speak for other counselors and how they conduct telehealth therapy, but if you sign up for online counseling at The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health, we’ll direct you to a HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing platform, where the session will take place. We will also reach out before and after the session via email or text.
You can expect more from telehealth therapy sessions. We’ll be happy to discuss them with you or address whatever concerns you may have.
Don’t let the unfamiliarity of online counseling keep you from getting the therapy you need. Get in touch with The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health, and set an appointment with our therapists.