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Key Takeaways:

  • The pandemic normalized telehealth therapy.
  • Telehealth and in person sessions both have strengths and weaknesses and may both serve your needs at different times. Below is a non-exhaustive list of expectations for each.
  • Ultimately, therapy should have a treatment plan that works for you. If you have questions about whether online vs in-person might be best, call our office today!

While the pandemic didn’t always give us a choice about whether to seek in person or telehealth therapy mental health services, we are now in an era where the location of our care is up to us. This blog is meant to be a tool for potential clients to navigate decisions about their where to pursue mental health therapy.

What can you expect from a telehealth therapy appointment? 

  • Security –  The two most commonly utilized platforms are Zoom and Doxy. Both are “HIPAA Compliant” which means that they observe privacy standards set in place by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. So your privacy and safety of information is secure.
  • Tech – You will need a device that has video capabilities and working audio. Telehealth therapy can be conducted over a phone-call, but there is so much benefit to both the client and clinician when body language and face-to-face connection is part of the session.
  • Privacy – It is important to have access to a quiet, private, and safe space for the length of your session. This can range from calling in from a parked car, putting headphones in at the office, or sitting in your bed with the door closed. With teletherapy, the client must be prepared to have more responsibility and control over their environment.
  • Flexibility – If you are running late or have a tight packed schedule, telehealth therapy can be an option that fits more squarely into your schedule and deducts travel time from your time spent going to/from therapy sessions. 
  • Comfort – some people find that meeting virtually may ease some of their anxiety about being around others and talking openly. However, as they become more comfortable with therapy and relating to others, they may choose to try in person appointments. 

What can you expect from an in person appointment?

  • Social Interaction – When going to an office for mental health therapy, you should expect to see people besides your therapist. Some offices (including ours) have a welcoming and dedicated administrative team that sits close to the lobby. Going to an office can have more of a community-feel while telehealth therapy can feel more apart from others.
  • Neutral Territory – With telehealth, the client has control over their immediate environment. For in person sessions, the environment is determined by the clinician and office management. Decor, seating options, access to the bathroom, etc. might be unfamiliar at first, but can also be a welcome change-of-pace. 
  • Engagement – telehealth therapy can be a challenge for clients who are younger or experience focus or attention difficulties. Being in person can feel more grounding and engaging to clients in this population.
  • Connection – for some people, meeting in person can be a more effective way of learning how to communicate with another person. The therapist may also be able to get to know you better through nonverbal communication, such as posture and eye contact.

There is no need to choose one completely over another – most clinicians offer the option to utilize both approaches – but it is important to be aware of how your experience and expectations might differ between the two. If you have more specific questions about what to expect from therapy, you can reach out to our office today. We have clinicians accepting clients for in person, telehealth, or hybrid sessions!

Rachel Levy, LLMSW

Author: Rachel Levy, LLMSW

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*This blog was created with the help of Anton Babushkin