What is Telemental Health?
Telemental health is the use of telecommunications or videoconferencing technology to provide mental health services. Telemental health professionals use computers, laptops, cell phones and devices of the like to provide virtual psychotherapy services. Counselors use technology to bring therapy, evaluations, interventions, and symptom management to individuals where they are. Telemental health provides the same services and benefits of in-person therapy sessions. However, a major difference is that telemental health platforms host virtual meetings through technological devices.
What are the benefits of Telemental Health?
Telemental health holds many benefits for different client circumstances. Telemental health increases and improves the client’s access to care. Telemental health allows counselors to provide mental health services to unreachable populations. For example, clients who are living in rural areas, clients who do not have reliable transportation, or clients who may need an emergency session, can all benefit from arranging a virtual telemental health session.
Telemental health counseling has shown many benefits for client care. Studies show that telemental health counseling is just as effective as in-person counseling for clients experiencing anxiety and depression. Clients tend to have higher rates of engagement when they opt for telemental health therapy sessions. Switching from in-person to virtual sessions removes many barriers that clients face while engaged in therapy. Virtual therapy have shown to be highly convenient; clients can save time traveling to and from the counseling office, save money in gas mileage, and have more flexibility in engaging in therapy remotely. Some researchers report greater client outcomes, reduced no-show rates, and reduced associated costs for clients engaged in telemental health.
What are some considerations for Telemental Health?
There are some special considerations for clients and counselors before opting into telemental health. Virtual counseling sessions heavily rely on the function of technological devices. It is essential that clients have access to a reliable device in which they can access the platform that their counselor uses. It is also important that clients are comfortable with minor troubleshooting techniques. For example, clients should be familiar with the process of connecting the device to internet or wifi, enabling the device’s camera or microphone, logging in and signing out of websites.
Another consideration of telemental health is privacy. Clients must have a free and private space in which they can have a virtual therapy session. Since clients will not have the convenience of a counseling office, it is important that they find a place in which they can have the privacy to speak freely about their concerns. Clients should consider whether they can identify places and spaces that are appropriate for them to have therapy. Clients should consider the likelihood of being interrupted during sessions, or the likelihood of people in the household overhearing the therapy discussions. Clients should also ensure that their counselors are following HIPAA regulations to ensure that client records and communications are encrypted and secured.
There are many benefits to engaging in virtual therapy sessions. Clients are able to create their own safe place to discuss their concerns. Clients and counselors are many to work together seamlessly in evaluating, treatment planning and reviewing. Talk to your counselor if you are interested in giving telemental health a try!