Some movies thought 2020 would be a futuristic era of hoverboards and telepathy.
Even as recently as 2014, a book called Shift2020 predicted that robots would evolve beyond the smart vacuum that wanders the kitchen room, instead acting as companions, assistants, and therapists.
While it’s not come to full fruition, there is a sliver of truth in this vision.
Therapy has traditionally been structured as an in-person interaction. Clients travel to an office for appointments at a regular interval or are connected with a practitioner within a residential or inpatient treatment program.
Perhaps, in a pickle, a phone call or text might be used, but, all-in-all, the model focuses on interpersonal interaction, the face-to-face connection.
The newest trend is teletherapy or telemedicine.
Web-based platforms and insurance company-sponsored programs are offering up mental and behavioral health services via phone, chat, and video.
Particularly in the continued treatment of addiction and mental illness, keeping in touch with a team of professionals can be a major source of accountability, support, and assistance through the many ups and downs of the journey. Teletherapy could boost essential access.
From parking, traffic, weather, non-ADA-compliant buildings, lack of child care, or inflexible work hours – it can feel like climbing a mountain just to make it to one appointment. While there may always be some give-and-take to be made to prioritize, sometimes it’s simply not convenient.
This is where teletherapy can be a more flexible, adaptable, and comfortable experience. Opportunity to schedule without building in extra travel time might make a lunch break long-enough to hop on video chat from an empty meeting room. Or, the baby can sleep nearby while therapy happens from the comfort of your living room.
Plus, it can increase the likelihood of vulnerability and authenticity as the home environment promotes a feeling of safety.
Just as there are food deserts and out-of-network zones, there are areas where mental health care is severely lacking. Rural communities tend to be most affected.
When driving hours to the next mid-sized city to see a provider is difficult or impossible with work, family, or health challenges, it can leave some without a team.
Teletherapy can fill-in those gaps and offer access to providers who might otherwise be too far to see. Where you live doesn’t have the stop you from seeing a great provider or stall your recovery due to distance from care.
This may not be an absolute across the board, but generally, teletherapy comes with a lower price than a traditional setting.
Some insurance companies will cover the sessions more robustly with this option, and even if the rates are about even, it doesn’t come with the cost of gas, parking, babysitters, etc.
Quality over quantity still rings true, but if teletherapy allows you to connect more often the regularity may prove more beneficial than seeing someone only once a month.
Despite the ever-growing presence of devices and networks in every facet of life, there is still always a risk of the pesky frozen video chat feed or dropped call.
Further, some are concerned about the privacy concerns of sharing private information via these pathways is truly confidential.
With a still-growing community of therapists hopping online, it can be hard to decipher if a provider is properly credentialed or safe.
For some, it is important to be forced up and out of the home environment, responsible for keeping an appointment commitment or socializing out in public.
Therapy is an important commitment, so if putting the time aside to physically go helps remind you that it is essential, keep those meetings on the books.
It may be easier to fib, leave out details, or avoid getting into deep details when you aren’t in the same room as the therapist. It might be harder to discern tone and body language, leaving anxiety to make assumptions or create discomfort.
Having an in-person relationship can help have an active session and get the most out of mental health services.
Within the next five years, estimates project that the United States will be short more than 15,000 psychiatrists as the demand for mental health care rows faster than the rate of new providers.
Some are exploring the world of artificial intelligence as a possible aide, using apps, wearables, and bots to fill-in and gather information for doctors and psychologists to use while not having to be immediately in front of a patient.
Even proponents note, however, that these are additions to the care system, not replacements.
It’s also important to note that teletherapy does have an inherent limitation – it is not going to provide the level of care needed for more serious issues or interventions. Thus, if addiction and mental health are severely impacting your life, it’s best to connect with a multi-disciplinary team and start with an in-person evaluation.
However, for those continuing along the path of recovery and looking to maintain progress in therapy, a digital path might prove beneficial.
Wondering what step you should take next? Unsure of what services would be the best fit for you? Call Steps Recovery Centers today – 385-250-1701- to talk with one of our trained clinicians. With levels of care from outpatient to residential, we can meet you where you are and help boost your journey to recovery.