Teletherapy Saves Time
Teletherapy Saves Time For some, the difference between psychiatrist and psychologist is unclear. Put simply: psychiatrists deal with medications while psychologists do therapy sessions. A while ago we discussed telepsychiatry. That entails prescription management plus occasional consults, all through videoconferencing. However telepsychology/teletherapy involves regular meetings between patient and therapist. Getting to the doctor for a med refill each month may be difficult for some. Going once or twice per week for sessions is a non starter. To this end the benefits of telehealth were discussed in our previous post on telepsychiatry. In summary, telehealth for mental illness is valuable to those in rural areas, those confined by mental or physical disabilities, prisoners, the elderly, and patients located far from a needed expert. It’s also useful for modern busy people who literally may not have time or extra gas money. Much is gained from seeing the face of a person on the other end of a conversation. Video-conference sessions allow gestures, facial expressions, and body language to become part of patient/doctor telecommunication. Doctors can more easily diagnose patients, and patients can more clearly understand their doctor. These sessions are held over HIPAA approved software akin to Skype. Years ago it was done on the telephone or through video recordings. Improved internet speeds have revolutionized teletherapy these past few decades. Gone are the days of waiting for doctors’ instructions on a VHS or seeking comfort from a detached voice. Teletherapy has spread throughout the country as more states legally implement it and through the world as more countries recognize it’s value. Connecting mental health experts with international patients requires sensitivity to the realities of other cultures - multicultural training is available so doctors can communicate directly in real time or with a translator. In fact the digital age has been a renaissance for psychology. Sessions occur somewhat frequently, providing involved opportunities to advance treatment technology. For example, cell phone apps are in development which allow patients to seek intervention at key moments, e.g. during a panic attack or temptation to use substances. Teletherapy appears generally as effective as in-person care, and some specific treatments prove quite promising. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for example works just as well on the laptop as it does at the office. Anxiety and depression have responded well in particular but efforts are being made to provide quality care for a wide range of disorders. In the case of anxiety and depression, teletherapy is a great alternative to in person care because many of the treatments apply to life outside the doctor’s office. Being instructed in ERP (exposure response prevention), for example, could be quite engaging if discussed from one’s own home where everyday triggers abound. In summary, telepsychology/teletherapy is an effective route to mental health. Tests prove time and again that telemental healthcare holds firm next to the traditional “showing up physically” style of treatment. Even if one is able bodied, lives in a city, and has extra funds, there are still obstacles to leaving the house for yet another responsibility. If this is the case for you, don’t brush off your mental well-being - use modern technology to make life easier and healthier.