Is online therapy right for you?
With the current surge and upswing in COVID cases brought on by the Delta variant, many of us are looking to return to online options for more things – if we ever left them to begin with.
Pretty early on in the COVID crisis – probably about May or June 2020, when we had no idea what was to come – I decided that I would ride out the rest of my career as an online-only therapist. Studies have shown the effectiveness of online therapy to be roughly the same as in person therapy, so I feel good about this choice.
I actually love it. I always have. Although I do miss the chance to sit in the same room with my clients – occasionally to touch or hug them, or even to see what they are doing with their feet as they are talking to me – I also love the wonderful perks that being online gives both of us in session. It truly can be the best of both worlds.
For instance, I can see people from all across the states that I am licensed in – not just in the area around our brick-and-mortar offices. Not only that, but I get invited into their living rooms, porches, even the occasional bedroom for our sessions. I get a more complete look at who they really are and how they really live.
For every client who would prefer to see a face-to-face therapist, there is at least one other who likes the convenience of virtual therapy.
At Sanctuary Christian Counseling, we are blessed to be able to do both. There are five of us who do virtual therapy and of that five, two of us only do virtual therapy. There are three who see clients face-to-face as well as being online, and one who only sees clients in person. We truly do have great options for our clients.
So how can you know if online therapy is right for you?
If you live in an area that doesn’t have good access to therapeutic services, or all the therapy services are chronically short staffed and with long waitlists, online therapy will enable you to get to see a virtual therapist much quicker. This can be huge, when waits for some therapy (such as ones affiliated with large hospital groups) can be a year or more. At Sanctuary, we try hard to get you in to see someone within two weeks of your call to us. One of the reasons we can do that is by offering online therapy.
The other advantage attached to getting into therapy quickly once you’ve decided that you need it, is that you can nip some problems in the bud by quick action. Better to deal with depression or anxiety quickly, than be miserable when online help is available.
You don’t have to be a tech wizard, but it does help to have some rudimentary knowledge of computers or devices and how to get online, follow email instructions and troubleshoot internet issues. This isn’t an age thing – I have 80-somethings who connect with me online with ease, and people in their 40s who struggle with it.
If you have a very busy schedule, online therapy is definitely right for you because it eliminates the travel and waiting factor. Basically, the only time you have to carve out of your busy schedule is the time of your appointment. You simply go online at the proper time, have your session and then you are off, and back at whatever other tasks are on your plate for the day. It’s very convenient and efficient.
Many find that they can talk more freely with a therapist who is with them, but not technically in the same room as them. I have found this to be particularly true of my sex therapy and sexual addiction clients. Though they can certainly see me and interact with me, there’s something about the artificial division of the computer screen that makes it easy for them to talk to me, even about very sensitive subjects.
Because you are free to choose any therapist is your state – or those who hold a license in your state – there are lots of options open to you. You can find someone who treats exactly what you think is your issue, who is the gender you prefer, and who uses the treatment modalities you think might be helpful. My therapeutic specialties – therapy for therapists, sex therapy with couples and sexual addiction therapy – are in demand and hard to find, so many of my clients come from other parts of the state and online therapy makes this possible. The opportunities for choice are truly wonderful.
Online therapy is more accessible for those with disabilities or who are housebound, or even those who, in a pandemic, feel more comfortable staying home.
Issues with confidentiality and security can be addressed with good platforms that ensure your privacy. Sanctuary Christian Counseling has a HIPAA-compliant video system that keeps sessions confidential, a secure email system and a companion compliant phone and voicemail system. All of these platforms ensure no one can impinge on your privacy online while interacting with us.
Online therapy is flexible – we do therapy in the evenings, occasional weekends, mornings, and even snow days. Because we are connecting from our homes (or occasionally our offices for our therapists who use both modalities) we don’t have to worry about many interruptions that can happen in face-to-face therapy. This makes therapy more consistent and increases the client’s progress with their issues.
Because everyone is online, often scheduling is easier, and frequently you can schedule your therapy around your life in a way that isn’t possible with in person therapy.
You should never ignore mental health issues. They are every bit as important as physical health ones and using an online therapist may make it easier for you to get the help you need. Many situations will not go away on their own, but will benefit by an objective, knowledgeable and therapeutic point of view.
At Sanctuary Christian Counseling, we offer an integrated approach to therapy, both online and in person, with nearly 20 years of experience and a number of specialties. We help grieving individuals, distressed kids and teens and couples in conflict find peace, solutions and connection – virtually or face-to-face.
Sanctuary Christian Counseling
9974 Molly Pitcher Highway, Suite 4
Shippensburg, PA 17257