Virtual therapy, or telehealth, is therapy conducted through video, phone or voice chat over a HIPPA-compliant, privacy-protected platform. While it has recently seen a surge in growth, rising over 50% and reaching record levels, telehealth has been around for more than 20 years and has been widely studied, shown to be effective for a range of populations and issues.

The Benefits of Virtual Therapy

Virtual therapy may not be appropriate for everyone, but it has many advantages.

"...virtual therapy can seem less intimidating than in-person appointments."

  • Convenience – Clients are able to simply log on via tablet, computer or phone. It also saves time; instead of commuting both ways, not to mention possible wait time, clients need only allow for the appointment itself. This results in fewer cancellations, helping preserve continuity of care.
  • Enhanced Comfort and Vulnerability – For those who may feel more secure from their couch, desk or kitchen table, virtual therapy can seem less intimidating than in-person appointments. Telehealth can offer a great first step for individuals with social anxiety or agoraphobia.
  • Privacy – For a number of reasons, some clients prefer to keep therapy appointments private. Not having to worry about being recognized in the parking lot or chatting with anyone in the lobby is an added benefit of virtual therapy. 
  • Increased Access to Quality Care – With the provider-to-patient ratio already lacking, especially in rural areas, the ability to see a knowledgeable, specialized professional in your state regardless of distance can truly make a difference for many.
  • Approachability – Overall, virtual care may help normalize mental health treatment. Apps, advertisements and other types of digital presence increase visibility and awareness, and for many who have grown up in the era of virtual communication, telehealth can seem more approachable, opening the door to other types of treatment.

Things to Consider When Seeking Virtual Therapy

When seeking virtual therapy, it’s important to consider the following aspects to ensure quality, effective care.

"Virtual therapy should be treated like an in-person session."

  • Qualifications – A physical location often provides assurance that both the organization and therapist are legitimate. Just as you would with any healthcare professional, make sure your therapist is licensed in their field of practice and in your state. Research the company or clinician’s website and reviews from clients, as well as possible credentials and training for the type of treatment you are seeking.
  • Protection of Patient Health Information – Do not compromise on your privacy; ensure that all technology used is HIPPA-compliant and provides adequate protection.
  • Technology – The client and their therapist should be familiar with the technology used and have a back-up plan in case of connectivity issues; for instance, a clinician may ask for the client’s phone number in order to continue the appointment.
  • Text Messages – Although text is used at times, it has not been widely studied and should be limited to communication between appointments, rather than therapy itself.
  • Therapy Environment – Virtual therapy should be treated like an in-person session. Both the clinician and client should be seated somewhere they can speak privately and candidly, free of distractions; they should give their full attention to the appointment rather than driving, typing, etc. Further, the therapist should maintain basic best practices in the field. They should be present, professional, cognizant and attentive to time boundaries.

Instances When Virtual Therapy May Not Be a Good Fit

With benefits like improved convenience and flexibility, removal of barriers and more, it’s no surprise that telehealth is thriving. However, virtual therapy may not be best for everyone.

  • Needing Human Connection – Anyone struggling with a lack of human connection will likely benefit from in-person care. Also, if it is your first appointment with a new therapist or you are finding it difficult to develop a safe and trusting connection, consider starting out in-person.
  • More Serious Situations – More serious mental and behavioral health issues may benefit from in-person treatment.
  • Trouble Staying Engaged – Those who struggle to stay engaged and attentive or experience other communication-related difficulties may find it easier to express themselves and interpret meaning in-person.

"With more than a year’s experience in telehealth, our team is well-versed in the nuances of virtual care, and our relational approach to treatment has been honed and perfected since 2014."

At Ethos Wellness, clients have access to our entire system of care ranging from outpatient to residential, as well as our team of experienced clinicians with a wide range of specialties. Family, group and individual therapy appointments are offered both in-person and virtually at no additional cost. With more than a year’s experience in telehealth, our team is well-versed in the nuances of virtual care, and our relational approach to treatment has been honed and perfected since 2014. Visit our clinician page or reach out to our care team confidentially to find the right fit for you.

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