Although there is no substitute for face-to-face therapy, many of the technologies available today enable the therapeutic relationship to extend outside the office. Video chat, cell phones, email, and even texting, all create different types of opportunities to receive therapeutic benefits. The added flexibility allows for therapists and clients to contact each other at times that would otherwise be impossible. Perhaps even more important than this, these tools can enable therapists to speak with clients "in the moment." This type of access can forestall a relapse, defuse a panic attack, or just help to reframe a stressful situation. In addition, tools like video chat allow for an experience that is similar to an in-person session but can take place across great distance, or during a lunch break.
I believe that people should have the level of access to therapy that works best for them. That is why I have expanded my practice to offer telephone and Internet-based therapies. That doesn't mean that non-office based therapy is a good choice for everyone. Here is some more information on teletherapy.
What is teletherapy?
Teletherapy, also known as "Internet Therapy," or "Web Therapy" is any therapeutic service that is provided in a non-office based setting, and makes use of some type of remote communication. This could include things like scheduled weekly e-mail correspondence, daily SMS check-ins, video chat, or instant messaging.
Why is teletherapy sometimes preferred?
Non-office based treatment is a good option in many circumstances. Probably the most common reasons people choose teletherapy are convenience and/or distance, low or moderate urgency issues, "maintenance" therapy, consultation, and supplementation of ongoing treatment. Teletherapy is also useful when an expert in your issue is not accessible locally.
When is teletherapy not appropriate?
Although there are many advantages to telephone or Internet therapy, it is not for every situation. One of the drawbacks is that some of the information communicated through body language, and other non-verbal cues gets lost when therapy is not done in-person. This could mean that a therapist might not notice a client doing things like losing weight, acting differently or avoiding eye contact. For this reason, telephone or Internet therapy is not a good fit when severe symptoms of depression and/or anxiety, or other psychiatric disorders are present. Or, when there is a risk of self-harm or harm to others. Assessing whether Internet therapy is a good choice is the responsibility of the psychologist and will be determined as early as possible. If in-office therapy is more likely to lead to a good outcome, then I will advise you of my opinion and make sure you have appropriate referrals, and a plan to get help.
What rules/laws apply to teletherapy?
If you found this site while searching for a provider of Internet therapy, then you have encountered websites and "clinicians" who offer services without proper qualifications or licensing. Regardless of how therapy is provided, the therapist must be licensed in his or her State to offer therapeutic services to the public. Furthermore, different states have different laws about residency of the provider and the client, which impact whether service can be provided at all. A provider who practices outside of these laws, may not be competent, and definitely is not insured. You wouldn't have an unlicensed contractor work on your kitchen; your mental health is at least as important. My North Carolina license number is 4174, and I am insured for the practice of psychology which includes offering teletherapy services.
How do I get started?
The first step is to contact me by phone or email, and we will set up a time to talk. If we decide to work together, and it seems like teletherapy is an appropriate option, we will schedule our next session. Once we have spoken a few times, we can determine the schedule, and format that works best. Generally, I prefer to have at least a few in-person sessions before transitioning to an electronic format.