In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual counselling sessions have become a popular method of accessing mental health services. But is Telehealth appropriate for everyone? Will the experience be the same as an in-person appointment? What are the pros and cons to keep in mind when deciding on the platform that will work best for you?
Telemental health refers to counselling sessions that take place via video, phone, email, or text message. Virtual sessions help to:
- Break down common barriers to mental health services, such as transportation to treatment locations and limited supports in rural communities.
- Provide faster and more convenient access to a helping professional
- Allow clients to access specialized supports for specific mental health concerns
Research shows that Tele-mental health can be just as effective in treating mental health difficulties as in-person sessions, which has led to this platform becoming a widely accepted and utilized method within the mental health field.
Considerations for Individuals
While Tele-health can be a very positive alternative to in-person therapy, there are some considerations to keep in mind when looking into this option.
- Virtual sessions may not be feasible for those who struggle to gain access to reliable technology and Internet access.
- Navigating the programs and devices needed to engage in virtual sessions may be difficult for some clients.
- Those who feel their mental health needs are more immediate or severe may benefit more from in-person sessions. When not in the same room, it can be difficult for the counsellor to get a complete picture of what is happening or to implement emergency strategies such as making a safety plan or regulating intense emotions.
Considerations for Children and Youth
- Children who live in smaller houses or with numerous family members may be unable to find a quiet, confidential space to talk with a counsellor.
- Sitting in front of a computer or speaking on the phone for a whole therapy session can be hard for some young people. Those with attention difficulties, severe mental illness, high levels of emotional dysregulation or family conflict will most likely find in-person therapy to be more effective.
- While video sessions may provide a unique look into the child’s home environment, it also reduces the chance to observe the child in person and how they interact with the family members bringing them to the appointment. This may provide the counsellor with insight that can be utilized throughout the treatment process.
Accessing counselling through virtual platforms can be convenient, cost effective, and helpful. By exploring the different aspects of this service, you can determine if Tele-mental health sessions are a good fit for you and your loved ones. For more information, schedule a free 15-minute consultation with one of our counsellors to discuss virtual sessions at Island Clinical Counselling.
Written by Cat Zydyk
Madigan, S., Racine, N., Cooke, J. E., & Korczak, D. J. (2021). COVID-19 and telemental health: Benefits, challenges, and future directions. Canadian Psychology / Psychologie canadienne, 62(1), 5–11. https://doi.org/10.1037/cap0000259