Skeptical of Teletherapy?
4 Reasons to Feel Good
about Therapy via
As we navigate our uncertain and temporary at-home reality, things look a little different for many of us right now. One area that may be causing some stress is how to continue with your current therapeutic interventions like counseling, psychotherapy, speech therapy, play therapy, or cognitive training while quarantined at home. But I have good news for you. Nearly every type of therapy can be continued through videoconferencing technologies, or teletherapy! And here are 4 reasons you can feel confident about the teletherapy option.
1. Teletherapy works as well as face-to-face therapy
Research has shown that virtual therapy is equally as beneficial as in-person therapy. There are thousands (yes, thousands) of studies comparing the efficacy of a variety of teletherapies to their face-to-face counterparts. For example, a study comparing teletherapy to face-to-face therapy for depression revealed greater improvements in depressive symptoms for the teletherapy group—benefits that were still evident three months later.1 Studies on teletherapy for PTSD2 and eating disorders3 showed similar outcomes for clients receiving teletherapy and face-to-face therapy.
This comprehensive list of more than 1000 teletherapy research studies provided by the Telebehavioral Health Institute and thousands more teletherapy studies categorized by the National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers show that teletherapy has been effective for weight loss, chronic pain, diabetes management, depression and anxiety, stress management, autism, ADHD, developmental disabilities, insomnia, eating disorders, post-partum depression, trauma, cognitive disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, substance abuse, aphasia, movement disorders, and traumatic brain injury using a variety of therapies including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychotherapy, counseling, mindfulness training, psychiatric care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, pharmacotherapy, cognitive processing therapy, caregiver behavior training, and functional communication training. And this was just a description of some of the studies. There are more conditions and more teletherapy interventions listed on both resources.
2. Teletherapy makes help more accessible
Typically, we choose a therapist within 20 miles of our home. Not only can using technology give us access to our therapists during times of quarantine or other world emergencies, we can also harness the power of technology to deliver therapies to people who don’t live near a therapist. This is a huge benefit. At a time when we are closing our brick-and-mortar business doors to practice “social distancing” guidance, it’s fantastic that our therapies can continue virtually without interruption. Plus, there’s no traffic, no parking fees or spaces to compete for, and no fuel costs!
3. Teletherapy offers more variety
Not every therapy is available in every town. For example, it’s difficult to find outpatient cognitive rehabilitation for memory and attention problems after a concussion. Teletherapy technology removes the barrier for people living in towns without a cognitive rehab option. Looking for cognitive training for your child but can’t find it in your town? Not a problem either. You can receive one-on-one cognitive training in your living room via videoconferencing (check out www.LearningRx.com or www.BrainRx.com). Through teletherapy venues, you can access counseling, speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, rehabilitation, primary care, and more! The Telehealth Resource Centers has a fantastic database of telehealth providers searchable by region and type of therapy.
4. Teletherapy provides privacy and flexibility
Maybe you are avoiding therapy because you don’t want to be seen walking into a mental health clinic? Teletherapy allows you to meet with a therapist in the privacy of your home or office. Shut your door, put on your headphones, and spend an hour receiving the help you need without giving up your privacy. The “town gossip” will never know. (Not that her opinion matters anyway.) Or perhaps you travel frequently and can’t commit to weekly appointments. Not a problem. Teletherapy is available no matter where you are. You can meet with your therapist from home, at your office, in your hotel room, or at your Great Aunt Trudy’s house. Anywhere with internet!
The takeaway today? These were just four of many reasons to feel confident that teletherapies of all kinds are great options and just as effective as face-to-face interventions. That’s great news, especially in these uncertain times of social distancing. Help is available, accessible, flexible, private, and…it works!
Want more information about teletherapy?
Check out all the resources I mentioned as well as these:
What is Teletherapy and The Benefits of Online Therapy: https://positivepsychology.com/teletherapy/
Find an online counselor:
Is Teletherapy Right for You?
Telehealth Resources Centers Database:
Lists of thousands of teletherapy research studies:
From my brain to yours-
Amy Lawson Moore, PhD
Gibson Institute of Cognitive Research
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References cited in this article:
1. Wagner, B., Horn, A. B., and Maercker, A. (2014). Internet-based versus face-to-face cognitive-behavioral intervention for depression: A randomized controlled non-inferiority trial. Journal of Affective Disorders, 152-154, 121-133. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2013.06.032
2. Acierno, R., Knapp, R., Tuerk, P., Gilmore, A. K., Lejuez, C., Ruggiero, K., et al. (2017). A non-inferiority trial of Prolonged Exposure for posttraumatic stress disorder: In-person versus home-based telehealth. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 89, 57–65. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2016.11.009
3. Mitchel, J. E., Crosby, R. D., Wonderlich, S. A., Crow, S., Lancaster, K., Simonich, H., Swan-Kremeier, L., Lynse, C., and Myers, T. C. (2008). A randomized trial comparing the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy for bulimia nervosa delivered via telemedicine versus face-to-face. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 46(5), 581-592. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2008.02.004