Online therapy is something that has been offered by some therapists over the past few years, however, in the past few weeks, it has rapidly become the new reality of therapy. In the new world of social distancing, many therapists have chosen to take their practices online. If you have been curious about going to couples counseling, you might wonder how this will affect you and your partner. There are a variety of reasons you might have looked at going to see a couples therapist: maybe you are newly engaged and wanted to prepare for your upcoming marriage, you may have wanted to address some things in a current relationship, or get a new relationship set up for success. With the new rules about sheltering in place, how will this change your ability to reach your couple goals?
This is a strange and stressful time for the world and it may be an intense time for you as an individual or a couple. You may be wondering if going to couples therapy is still something you can do. Here are Austin STRONG: Relationship Building Center, we want you to know that yes, you have options during this time! Doing therapy online may feel a little new and unfamiliar, which makes sense--it's a whole new world! So we wanted to take this time to share with you some common questions and answers about online therapy so you can make an informed decision about beginning online counseling, as an individual or a couple.
Q) Is online therapy secure?
A) Yes, we use HIPAA compliant platforms to meet with our clients online. You will also receive a consent form for Telehealth before your first online session that tells you how the session is being protected.
Q) Are online therapists licensed?
A) All of our therapists are licensed by the state of Texas to provide counseling, and have taken additional mental health professional Telehealth provider training.
Q) Is online therapy like in-person therapy?
A) Not exactly. There are some differences in meeting online vs. in-person. One difference is pacing. When you are in person with a therapist, the flow of the session may be a little faster as your therapist is able to tune into not only the words you are saying, but also body language. Online there can be some times where there is a delay in transmission or where your therapist may not be able to see your body language. Your therapist may ask you to do a grounding or attunement exercise before beginning an online session so you can pay attention to the signals your body is giving you throughout the session. If you are used to meeting in person, this can mean that the pacing of an online session is a little slower than what you have been used to.
Q) Is online therapy as good as in-person therapy?
A) It absolutely can be. Some people have even found it more effective! Therapy is about having a safe space to connect with yourself and a safe other. Even though online sessions can take a little getting used to if you have mainly done in-person sessions, once you are able to find that safe space to connect again, the benefits of online counseling are equal to in-person counseling. In some cases, couples have reported that practicing skills in their home has actually helped them to make desired changes more quickly. Finding a place in your own home to try out some new coping and mindfulness tools can also help you create a daily routine to integrate them into your life.
Q) Are there challenges to online therapy?
A) Yes, there are challenges to online therapy that are unique. Some of these might be: finding a quiet space at home when you have your family there with you, having a spotty internet connection, lacking a spot to have privacy, sharing a home computer etc. Some of these things can be frustrating and will take some accommodating and patience to work through. However, there are benefits to online therapy that avoid the challenges to in-person sessions as well: no sitting in traffic, easier coordinating scheduling with a partner, increased therapist availability to name a few.
Q) Do I need special equipment?
A) No, you can use your phone (you may have to download an app) or any computer that has a camera and mic.
Although this change to offer online therapy has come rather quickly, and change is not always comfortable, we want you to know that we are doing everything we can as therapists to continue to be here for you in the way that you need us. If you have any other questions or concerns about beginning online therapy, please reach out! We are happy to talk you through your options for individual or couples counseling during social distancing. We are right here alongside you to offer our support for you and your loved ones to successfully weather this current storm.