What is distance counseling?
Distance counseling, or teletherapy, is counseling that takes place via phone or video conference because the counselor and the client are in separate locations. Clients and counselors may not be able to meet face to face for various reasons:
- the client is traveling for work or is on vacation
- the client or counselor has a compromised immune system and cannot physically be around others
- the client has moved away but desires to continue the therapeutic relationship
- the client lives in a rural area and does not have access to counseling
- the client is away at college or studying abroad
What are the benefits of distance counseling?
Distance counseling allows clients to seek mental health treatment when their physical circumstances would normally be a limiting factor. Multiple studies conducted by reliable sources, like the University of California at Berkley and Harvard University, have shown that distance counseling can be just as effective as face-to-face counseling in treating certain mental health concerns, such as depression and anxiety.
What can I do to ensure a quality distance counseling session?
There are a number of things you can do as a client to make sure you get the most out of teletherapy. When deciding where to set up for your session, choose a place that feels comfortable and safe to you. Ensure that you have a good wireless internet connection if using a computer or tablet, and consider placing a white noise machine outside your door to maintain privacy from others in your household. No white noise machine? Download a free app on your phone, or turn on a portable fan! Some clients also like to use headphones. If you are able, opt for a video session rather than a phone session so you and your counselor can see each other’s faces. Connecting visually allows your counselor to better see and understand your emotions by reading facial and body language cues. Set up for your session a few minutes before it starts, so you don’t feel rushed and are ready to start at your appointment time.
Are there any risks?
As with any form of online communication, there is no way to ensure 100% confidentiality due to hacking. However, counselors typically use secure and HIPAA-compliant video platforms, like Zoom or doxy.me, to ensure the highest level of privacy for clients.
Additionally, distance counseling is not ideal for clients who are actively struggling with suicidal thoughts and other serious mental health concerns. If in-person counseling is accessible, individuals dealing with these issues can be better supported face-to-face.
What about kids and teens?
Teletherapy is suitable for kids and teens too! Teens especially adapt well to teletherapy, as they have grown up interacting with devices and internet. They are adept at connecting with others via phone or computer, and this ability easily transfers to counseling. For kids, counselors specifically trained for working with younger ones should be knowledgeable in how to adapt a distance counseling session for a child. The counselor may ask the parents ahead of time to have the child bring certain materials to the session, like specific toys or art supplies.
Have more questions about distance counseling? Feel free to reach out to One:12 Counseling with your questions.