A new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 45% of adults say the pandemic has affected their mental health.
As a therapist, this is something that’s come up in my work life and my personal life. I hear many friends and family members express their struggles, but report they don’t want to start therapy right now because they would prefer the therapeutic ritual of a face to face visit at the therapy office. I understand and empathize with that, especially since I’m missing the experience of in person services, myself.
However, I also have a hard time staying quiet when it comes to opinions about telehealth and online therapy services. Especially when I know that individuals who would greatly benefit from therapeutic support are suffering silently in hopes that they can put back the pieces once this is all over [whilst having no definitive answer on when that will be.]
I am pro telehealth and have always been [if the person is appropriate for this service/level of care]. Since the start of my time in private practice, I’ve had many clients participate and benefit from therapy services online. I conduct the sessions the same exact way that I would conduct an in person session. I asked questions, I provide support, use techniques to help client gain insight, and through video technology I observe behaviors/body language/patterns the same way I would in person.
Telehealth has been great for my clients who I see in person, too. It’s extremely useful when the client wants to come in to therapy, but other circumstances get in the way. It’s natural for busy weeks to get the best of us at times, and that’s often when we need services the most. I feel like it’s imperative to be available to our clients when unpredictable circumstances pop-up; if the babysitter cancels, busy schedules leave little time for self care, or they work later shifts and don’t have the ability to make it in for session. [See post here for other reasons people use telehealth].
For this reason, I feel like people should give telehealth a chance before dismissing it all together and waiting this out. Whether that’s starting therapy for the first time, returning to therapy, or continuing regular sessions.
This article is inspired by NPR’s recent article, “How to get therapy when you can’t leave the house.”
Here are some questions to consider when thinking about getting therapy right now:
1. Do you think that you could benefit from participating in mental services right now?
2. Are there short or long term results that can happen if you don’t address current issues going on in your life?
3. Are there any areas of your life that are impacted by stress, anxiety, or other related mental health symptoms? (This may be work, relationships, finances, parenting, or anything hindering your routine/functioning?)
4. Are old issues resurfacing or becoming more noticeable with the current circumstances?
5. Are you having a hard time adjusting to recent circumstances?
6. Are you feeling socially disconnected or isolated?
7. Could you benefit from learning new strategies to help adapt to the new circumstances?
8. Are you experiencing discomfort or anxiety because of factors that increase your vulnerability to COVID-19? (Elderly population, pre-existing conditions, or pregnancy.)
9. Are you experiencing any conflict within your home or in your personal relationships that’s impacting your mental health negatively?
10. Are you noticing any symptom changes related to mental health or current mental health diagnoses?
11. Are you being physically impacted by stress or other emotions?￼
If you’re experiencing anything that could utilize mental health services, trying telehealth could make a huge difference.