Is online therapy right for me?
This is a complicated question that requires some special considerations, which I will walk through, to give you a better idea if online therapy sessions are appropriate for you.
Why do I offer online therapy sessions? Well, in one word: Convenience. In our current age of available technology and increasing convenience it was only a matter of time before health care, and mental health services included, caught up. Online therapy, sometimes called “telehealth,” is increasing in availability. Many private practice clinicians are offering the service, and there are even entire online platforms connecting interested clients with potential therapists for monthly membership fees.
I don’t use the word convenience lightly when it comes to therapy services. Therapy is work. It can be hard, challenging, and require an emotional energy that can feel heavy at times. There is a great payoff to this work, however, which is an increase in overall wellness and health. Referring to online therapy as convenient seems to somewhat strip the important fact that therapy is not something that will work if a client simply goes through the motions. Clients need to be open to the process and work through it to meet goals. Simply showing up is one of the steps (and an important one), but it isn’t the only one.
An in person and face to face meeting with your therapist provides moments of attunement when your therapist can assess, in real time, whether this work is getting done, being helpful, or needs to pivot to another plan of action. There is a nuance to communication that can be missed in online therapy sessions, and it’s important to keep this in mind when weighing the pros and cons of online therapy. It’s this reason that I request clients who wish to do online therapy sessions meet with me at least one time in person–to be able to get a real time assessment and meeting so we can both get a sense of one another without the separation of a computer. Because this isn’t always possible (I see clients all over Washington State, and it’s a surprisingly big state), we will discuss this very issue in some of our first online sessions.
So how do you know if online therapy is right for you (have I scared you off)? Online therapy can be great for individuals who are far away from accessing appropriate services that just aren’t close enough to get to. If you live in a small or rural community there may simply not be mental health professionals with experience or expertise in maternal mental health (or even a mental health professional). It may be a long commute to get to the services you need, and this simply isn’t feasible on a regular basis for many people. If this is the case for you, online therapy may be a good fit.
If you are someone who is not actively experiencing or who does not have a history of psychosis, online therapy may be a good fit for you. Clients in psychosis or with a history of psychosis and clients in active crises should present for face to face, in person therapy so that the therapist can actively evaluate and assist in the moment. There is a distance to online therapy that can be extremely limiting, and quite honestly reckless, if a client needs serious and immediate care. For clients who are experiencing mood and anxiety disorders without psychotic features and who are not actively in crisis or suicidal may benefit from online therapy.
If you are experiencing extreme anxiety at leaving your home, or agoraphobia, or if you have a limiting medical condition and travel from your home to appointments is a challenge or uncomfortable, online therapy may be a good fit for you. While individuals previously limited by these situations were unable to access care without going to great lengths of discomfort, it is now possible to be “seen” in your home.
If you are a new parent, a parent to young children, aren’t able to find a sitter, and have access to reliable internet connection and time to sit for a session then online therapy may be a good fit for you. While I not only allow and welcome babies in session and also have dedicated space for their (and your) comfort during sessions, I absolutely understand the difficulties of packing up babies and heading to therapy. Perhaps it’s more convenient to have a therapy session during nap time–it’s now possible, and I’m happy to accommodate if it’s appropriate.
Individuals who wish to engage in online therapy sessions should have reliable internet connectivity and a private place to have a session. A coffee shop or public place is not appropriate, and just like a face to face appointment, as few of distractions as possible will allow for you to get the most out of the session and for us to focus on therapy and your goals. We will make a plan for what to do if either of our connections cut out (it happens), how to call back, and who will take the steps to call (it’s almost always me). We will make a plan for what to do in case of an emergency crisis, if you’re feeling unsafe, and I will request an updated emergency contact.
Does this sound like something you’d like to pursue? Contact me regarding scheduling an appointment.
Wishing you wellness!