I wrote this about a year before COVID-19 hit. Telehealth (online) counseling was still in the shadows and people were skeptical of it. In 2020, telehealth is more the norm than in person sessions. I felt this was worth sharing as the words are still as true today as they were in 2019.
My therapist lives about three hours away, but I don’t get in a car to see him. I turn on my computer. I’ve been seeing him via telehealth, and it’s been one of the biggest blessings of this year.
When choosing a therapist, I decided I wanted someone who utilized EMDR (Eye-movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), but didn’t want anyone who lived in the Nashville metro area. The therapist community is relatively small and the community of EMDR therapists is even smaller, which means I would have a high likelihood of running into my therapist in professional circles. I had also recently started providing some telehealth services to my own clients. While I was enjoying this and receiving positive feedback from clients, I wanted to see what it would be like to be the client in that equation. I have been pleasantly surprised.
I know many people see technological communication as impersonal, but this has not been my experience with online therapy. Receiving therapy in my own safe space allows me to relax and open up quicker than I would have in an actual office. I’m able to get all the benefits of in person therapy such as eye contact, tone of voice, listening, compassion, and objective viewpoint. I just have to bring my own tissues.
Thanks to high speed internet and a HIPAA compliant meeting platform, I am able to meet my therapist without technological hiccups (so far so good) or privacy concerns. I’ve never had to fight traffic, drive across town, or worry about parking either. By expanding my search outward, I was able to find a person who was just the right fit for me.
I hope my own experience inspires others who would benefit from counseling to consider telehealth as an option. There are many people living in rural areas of the United States who aren’t able to easily access counseling services. I hope that telehealth provides an opportunity for more of these people to experience counseling from the comfort of their own home.
2020 Addendum: I am incredibly thankful for my therapist being willing to work with me online for that time period. I truly believe God put us together as a catalyst for growth God wanted to do in my life. God used that time to heal wounds that were still lingering from my divorce to prepare me for my future husband.
My experience being the client and my experience being the therapist have both solidified for me the immense value in telehealth services. As awful as the COVID-19 pandemic has been, one positive is the opportunity for many therapists and clients to experience the rich therapeutic work that can be done in an online format without losing efficacy or heart. I dream of a world in which we close the gaps to mental health care and one of those gaps is geography. In the age of technology, this does not need to be so.
To hear more of my own story, click here.