How Does Telehealth Counselling With A Psychologist Differ From In-Person Session?
What is telehealth counselling?
Telehealth counselling is also known as online counselling, virtual therapy, teletherapy, cybertherapy, remote therapy or e-therapy. It is a counselling session that is conducted via phone or video, enabling people to access mental health support from anywhere.
After a massive uptake of telehealth counselling during the pandemic, it is maintaining its popularity due to its convenience and efficacy. New Vision Psychology psychologists are available to you via telehealth no matter where in Australia you may be.
“During the pandemic, many clients have used telehealth to continue their regular sessions. It has helped them overcome barriers such as mandatory self-isolation, limited transport options and the fear of being exposed to COVID. Even now, as lockdowns have lifted, many are still continuing with this option. We’re seeing that telehealth counselling can be as effective as in-person therapy, especially as people get used to doing more things virtually. When it comes to providing mental healthcare, it’s important to have different options to suit varied needs.”Tania Rugiero, Registered Psychologist
Here’s everything you’ll need to know about accessing telehealth in Australia for psychological services:
- benefits of telehealth psychologist
- disadvantages of online counselling compared to an in-person experience
- how remote therapy is delivered
- how to set up a safe space in your home for a productive session with your psychologist
- how to make the most of telehealth counselling
Can psychologists offer online counselling via telehealth?
Absolutely. All registered and clinical psychologists at New Vision Psychology provide telehealth counselling.
What are the benefits of seeing a telehealth psychologist?
Telehealth makes mental health care accessible to a wider range of clients. It provides another avenue of care to suit different circumstances and preferences.
This includes geographically isolated populations. People living in remote locations or rural areas may not be able to access mental health treatment without telehealth.
Mobility is often a barrier when it comes to accessing healthcare. Telehealth overcomes this issue by making psychological counselling available to people with physical limitations, including those who are disabled or housebound.
Some people may prefer to have therapy appointments from the comfort of their own homes. They may be time-poor, lack access to childcare or have limited transportation options. Telehealth is an efficient option that lets people save time and costs associated with travelling.
Online counselling also suits people who are constantly on the move or travelling. By being able to connect remotely, telehealth provides the convenience of quick and consistent access from any location.
For some, the stigma associated with seeking out psychological services may prevent them from getting the help they need. Telehealth provides an approachable entry point into mental health care as it can be done extremely privately from your own home or bedroom. It helps to overcome the fear of being seen at a clinic.
Going into a clinic for a consultation may also be exceptionally challenging for those suffering from social anxiety. Telehealth is a less intimidating option as it doesn’t require them to physically attend the clinic.
As location is no longer a barrier, it is easier to find a suitable psychologist. Telehealth clients benefit from more availabilities, more flexible options and shorter waiting periods.
What are the disadvantages of online counselling?
Telehealth may not suit everyone. Certain people may need to be in the same room as their therapist to feel comfortable and build a meaningful connection. Some children may also be more engaged by the sensory experiences associated with face-to-face interaction.
It may take a while to get used to communicating on screen. Whether someone embraces telehealth often depends on how comfortable they are with using technology and video conferencing platforms in daily life.
Some people may find that communication is restricted, especially via phone sessions, where both parties are unable to see body language and non-verbal cues.
The counselling session could also be interrupted by technology issues. The smoothness of the session depends on the therapist’s and client’s technology literacy and internet connection.
There are limits to care when it comes to telehealth. Some conditions require close and direct intervention. For instance, telehealth may not be suitable for serious psychiatric illnesses. It also does not suit certain diagnostic tests (e.g. ASD diagnosis) which require in-person assessments.
How is counselling delivered virtually?
For phone sessions:
- Your therapist will ring you at the time of your appointment. The session will be carried out over the phone.
For online/video sessions:
- A video link will be sent to your email prior to your session. If you have difficulty connecting, call 1300 001 778 and our clinical admin team will help you out. Your psychologist may also ring you on your mobile if they are not able to connect with you online.
- Log into the link provided. This will bring you into a private room – a secure space between you and your therapist.
- Things may seem a bit different because you’re in your own space and not sharing a physical room with your therapist. However, most of the virtual sessions will be the same as in-person sessions. Your therapist will observe your body language, take in physical and verbal cues and follow at a pace that is comfortable for you.
- Just like in a physical session, you can be in control of what you want to discuss and what you want to get out of your session. This is a safe and confidential space dedicated to you.
If you’re curious about virtual counselling, it’s worth giving it a shot. If it doesn’t work for you, there is always the traditional face-to-face option. Your therapist will find a way forward that best suits your needs and preferences.
How to set up a safe space at home to talk with your psychologist
A safe space is an area where you feel comfortable to be open and honest with your therapist. We recommend having your telehealth session in a private space where you can sit comfortably for the duration of the session, without external distractions. This will enable you to express yourself freely, knowing that you are safe to discuss anything and everything on your mind.
Consider whether you feel safe speaking to your therapist at home. You may have your own room with a closed door which you feel comfortable in. If possible, let your household members know that you’re on an important call or therapy session, so they won’t disturb or interrupt.
If you can’t find a safe space at home, check if there may be somewhere else around your home where you can be alone – for instance, your backyard, garage or car. An alternative is to go for a walk and find a private spot where you won’t be overhead by others.
If you’re concerned that someone may interrupt during your therapy session, have a chat with your therapist about this and discuss strategies to manage these situations. For instance, you may agree on a specific word or phrase to indicate that someone has entered your space and you don’t feel comfortable continuing the conversation.
How to make the most of online counselling
To ensure a smooth telehealth experience, you may want to:
- Check that you have strong phone reception or internet connection
- Make notes prior to your session about the things you’d like to discuss
- Find your safe space – a quiet and private place
- Ensure your space is well lit and not too dark
- Get comfortable. You may want to have a glass of water and some tissues beside you.
- Remove distractions as much as possible. Close the windows. Put your phone on silent.
- Use headphones for more privacy and better audio
If you feel like online counselling isn’t working for you, be honest with your therapist. Let them know your feelings and concerns, and they will find other ways to continue your counselling sessions in a way that is best suited to your needs.