For years I have done a small portion of my practice by telehealth, usually to accommodate clients who had relocated or had to travel for work. Online therapy has also been a lifeline for my patients who developed travel or mobility limitations due to medical issues.
Now, as we adapt to requirements for social distancing, virtual therapy is often the only available option. This has led to the discovery that it is not just a second-best choice, but in some cases the very best choice for treatment. It is certainly more convenient, with no commute involved, and it allows for more flexible scheduling. Instead of needing to carve 2 or 3 hours out of a busy workday, just finding a single free hour seems much more feasible. Online therapy allows for a wider choice of potential therapists, and it is more private, eliminating concerns about running into acquaintances or colleagues in the waiting area.
It is also in many ways more intimate than face-to-face therapy. You are unlikely to ever sit as close to your therapist as you do to your computer screen, and the addition of headphones allows for an “in-your-head” experience that feels very connected. Numerous research studies have demonstrated that effectiveness and outcomes of online therapy are equal to in person therapy. Many of my clients have found that they prefer it, especially when the convenience is factored in. Some have said that they would like to continue in the virtual mode, at least part of the time, even when it is no longer necessary. What began as a necessary accommodation is showing itself to be a valuable and desirable alternative approach.