Is Telehealth or Online Therapy Right for You?
Are you ready for a change, but concerned about your busy schedule, long travel time or commute? Do you have limitations on leaving your home or office?
Are you a legal resident of Texas who is searching for a convenient alternative to in-person therapy sessions, but with the same personal touch and high customer service as in person? Do you want to reach out for help, but just don’t have the time or space for counseling in your life? Perhaps you’re too overwhelmed with stress and daily preoccupations to even think of navigating traffic to visit a therapist’s office. Or maybe a physical limitation, medical condition, chronic illness, chronic pain, transportation, or health issue makes leaving the house a complex challenge.
And now, in the time of coronavirus, social distancing and heightened anxiety, telehealth can be a comforting reprieve and a safe source of ongoing support.
If this sounds familiar, you may be the perfect candidate for our phone or video based online counseling services. While we offer standard, in-person sessions with highly-trained and qualified professionals in Houston, TX, we also bring that same level of quality and specialist expertise to our online clients. Whether you are looking for help dealing with depression, anxiety, relationship issues, eating disorders, trauma, child, parenting & family concerns, career issues, or if you just need some additional support in your life, working with a therapist online can help. And if you’re local to Houston, you always have the option of scheduling an in-person session from time to time as well.
Many individuals who could benefit from counseling online simply don’t know enough about the process to feel comfortable with initiating sessions. Therefore, we’ve put together a few frequently asked questions that may help shed some light on what we do.
Online Therapy FAQ’s
What exactly is the difference between online therapy and traditional therapy?
The only real difference is that instead of meeting with your therapist in-person at a set location, you get to work from wherever you would like to via the internet (video/webcam) or phone. We can accommodate almost any schedule. Whether you want to schedule an appointment during your lunch break, before you start your day, when your kid takes a nap, when childcare is available, or just when you have a little free time. Rather than trekking across town, you can meet with your online psychologist directly from home, the office, or even your car. This type of service meets you where you are and conforms to your personal needs for safety, comfort, and convenience.
Can I expect the same level of care from an online counselor in private practice?
Absolutely. The therapist that you will be working with online is the same one you would be paired with if you came into our physical location. We don’t just have one generalist who takes care of the virtual side of things. Rather, each therapist has their own area of specialization. So you can look forward to working with someone who is uniquely qualified to address your specific situation.
Further, our online therapy program provides the same exceptional customer service and attentive therapy as our face to face sessions. And our Client Care Coordinators are available Mon-Fri to answer your questions or address any needs you have.
Is online counseling effective?
Many organizations have extensively researched the efficacy of video-based therapy sessions. They have found that there is no difference in the effectiveness of online versus traditional counseling methods. In fact, in our professional experience, we routinely find that clients are more inclined to open up and share their stories when they feel at ease. That’s one of the reasons why virtual counseling can be so powerful. When you are working from your comfort zone, therapy has one less barrier to break down before healing can take place. It can help you get to the root of your concerns quicker.
Why virtual therapy rather than traditional counseling?
Why might you choose online therapy? We understand that life can get in the way of self-care. We wanted to make sure that there was one less obstacle for our clients to overcome. Online sessions are incredibly convenient. They eliminate the hassle of taking off from work, finding a sitter for the kids, navigating traffic, fighting bad weather, spending money on gas, or simply finding the motivation to go.
Plus, wait times are shorter, there’s greater anonymity, and you have greater flexibility in scheduling—including Sundays and evening hours. And if you live in a rural area, or if you are having a hard time finding a professional who can offer the specialized services you need, online sessions are the perfect resource. By eliminating all of those distractions and deterrents, you can finally concentrate on taking care of yourself without stressing about it.
What are the additional benefits of online counseling?
One of the surprising benefits of video-based counseling is that it potentially allows us to see who you really are within the context of your real life. All too often, in-person sessions force clients to assume unrealistic versions of themselves. Online counseling gives your therapist a unique perspective. She might pick up on additional bodily or emotional cues that otherwise might not be noticeable in a traditional setting. That added level of insight can help us develop a treatment strategy that is more individualized and tailored to meet your needs. Being in a comfortable setting can also help you get to the root of your concerns much quicker.
What can online therapists help with?
Just as in our physical office, we will strive to match you with someone who is specifically qualified to target your needs. Our specialists are trained in a variety of evidence-based interventions. Examples include: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), EMDR, Acceptance Commitment Therapy, Trauma Therapy, Child Counseling & Play Therapy and the Gottman Method.
Most types of therapy and mental health treatments available through traditional face to face counseling are also available as online therapy programs. Our online therapists are also trained in specific interventions designed to be effective in virtual or distance counseling. Originally, we began online therapy as an important need during the wake of natural disasters and multiple effective interventions were developed to assist with a wide variety of mental health concerns.
Whether you are recovering from infidelity, battling an eating disorder, bipolar disorder or seeking therapy for depression, boundary issues, or working your way through a tough transition, we have someone who can help. We also offer online couples counseling in addition to our individual online sessions. Consequently, if you would like to see a full list of our specializations and services, please click here . You can seek counseling for any of our service areas via online therapy.
Can I receive EMDR therapy through online counseling? Is it effective?
Do you offer couples therapy or marriage counseling online?
Couples can also participate in online counseling for relationship issues, or parenting concerns. With couples counseling, it’s important initially to meet on a regular basis to heal negative patterns of communication and build new skills. Couples counseling often gets stalled due to the challenge of matching up schedules for in person visits. When this happens, it is difficult to make the changes needed to get unstuck from negative cycles.
With online couples therapy, couples have greater flexibility to attend sessions without having to worry about driving in Houston traffic and finding childcare to attend therapy sessions. This allows you and your partner to make effective and necessary changes to break negative cycles. Online therapy for couples is very similar to face to face counseling. It’s conducted via video, even if one partner is out of town. This makes it much more convenient to participate in regular sessions.
Ideally, you and your partner can be together online, but it’s also ok if you are both at different locations. However, we do prefer that you both have access to a video camera, whether through your phone or webcam so you can see your partner and your therapist on screen,
Can I get help for my child or teen through online therapy?
YES! We have several effective methods for working with children, even young children under the age of 10 through distance therapy. For young children, we typically meet with the parent first in a video session. In subsequent online child therapy sessions we may guide the parent through effective interactions with their child through parent-child play therapy. This helps parents learn how to effectively guide and interact with their child at home. Prior to the session, the therapist may discuss specific toys to have available at home during the video session.
Online therapy can be very effective for teens as well. Adolescents and young adults may feel more free to express themselves in the comfort of their home. They tend to enjoy working online with their counselor because it’s such a familiar communication method for them. Their therapist will get to see them in their everyday environment, providing a layer of perspective they would not otherwise have. The therapist can also help teens identify specific items in their environment that can be incorporated into coping strategies. For teens and older children, having access to art supplies at home can be helpful. Additionally, teens might find support through virtual teen skills groups.
Teens might also benefit from walk and talk phone therapy because it allows them to get “unstuck”.
What about online group therapy or online DBT skills groups?
Research has found online group therapy “fosters well-being, a sense of control, self-confidence, feelings of more independence, social interactions, and personal empowerment,” which is much needed in handling specific conditions of stress. Further, an analysis of multiple different studies found that online therapy groups consistently produced positive results with a diverse range of concerns. We find online group therapy works best when everyone is connected through video.
What will I need in order to receive therapy online?
It’s really quite easy. You only need three things: 1) a PC, laptop, phone, or tablet with a microphone and camera/webcam; 2) a stable and reliable internet connection (please use Wi-Fi to prevent signal drop); and 3) a quiet place where you can talk freely. We will send you a unique, confidential link to access your video session with your therapist. Other than that, you just need a desire for personal growth and a willingness to move forward.
As with face to face counseling, you will set up an appointment time with your therapist. At the scheduled appointment time your therapist will reach you by the agreed upon method. Appointments are usually scheduled in 45-minute increments, but you are welcome to discuss your needs with your therapist for shorter or longer session lengths.
I’m concerned about privacy….
It’s understandable to be concerned about privacy and confidentiality in the event you are scheduling a session when you are in the same vicinity as others. Here are some strategies to keep your session private:
- Use a headset. Rather than using your phone or computer’s speakers, connect a headset via bluetooth to your phone or computer (or just plug it in). This will keep the sound in your ears only.
- Use whitenoise to add soundproofing in your area. If you are the same space as others, ideally put the whitenoise outside of the room you will be in for your session. You can use a whitenoise app, you ask ask an amazon alexa or google home device to “play white noise” or you can play soft music in the room nearest to you. A baby whitenoise machine works great too! Just put it right outside your door to muffle the sound.
- Go outside or in your car. If you are in small quarters, you may want to step outside on a patio, in a park, or even find a quiet space in your car. And getting outside is great for your mental health too!
How secure is video therapy?
We want to assure you that all of our video sessions are held to the highest possible level of confidentiality. Once you set up your appointment, you will be sent a link. This link will take you to your assigned therapist over a protected connection to our secure online therapy platform. We use a encrypted, secure, HIPPA compliant link that represents the highest standard of protection in the healthcare field. You are the only person who knows you are speaking with a therapist.
We do recommend that you ensure that you have a private space available to use when you connect with your therapist online. This way you can protect yourself from being overheard and feel comfortable during your therapy session. For this reason, please avoid using public places such as coffee shops for your session. If you have others in your home, you might want to play music nearby for soundproofing.
I teleconference for work and don’t have the bandwidth for more computer time.
Do walk and talk phone therapy. You can use your phone, get outside and go for a walk or at least be in nature. By doing a session on the phone with a headset, you can free yourself up to move your body. Or at least get outside and stretch. Movement helps you to get unstuck and it releases feel good hormones in your body. Combining physical movement with emotional processing facilitates openness, creativity, and those wonderful ‘aha’ moments. Have you ever taken a walk and suddenly found your head clear and perhaps even come up with idea or a solution to a problem you had been stewing over? For some people doing walk and talk therapy instead of sitting can facilitate greater progress in therapy.
Walking phone therapy supports healthy coping outlets for anxiety, trauma, and depression. For ADHD coaching, it is actually preferred to be able to stand up, and move your body to release excess energy and clear your mind. This helps with executive functioning skills such as focus while also facilitating relaxation.
How long has this online therapy been available?
Distance counseling has been around for a number of years, so it’s not exactly a new development. However, professionals in the medical field are relying on video-based, online conferencing to supplement their clients’ well-being more than ever. Whether doctors, psychiatrists, licensed psychologists, or psychotherapists, all health professionals are finding that telehealth online services can help individuals in ways that traditional in-person visits cannot.
Our practice has been working with clients online since 2005. We have extensive knowledge and experience in virtual therapy. We also stay up to date on the most recent trends, research, and advances in the online counseling and therapy field through professional organizations such as the Telebehavioral Health Institute. Our therapists have been trained specifically in distance therapy and some are certified as a Distance Credentialed Counselor. We also stay current within our profession through associations such as the American Psychological Association or the American Counseling Association.
Are online therapists licensed professionals?
Yes, just as inoffice therapy, our online therapy providers are all required to be licensed mental health professionals in the state of Texas. Our therapists are licensed psychologists, licensed professional counselors and licensed clinical social workers in the state of Texas. Their license authorizes them to use online therapy methods in the state of Texas only. While they may also work as life coaches or career counselors, you can rest assured that our licensed therapists have completed the rigorous training methods to work as a qualified mental health professional.
Are there any reasons why teletherapy may not be for me?
Unfortunately, our therapy providers are only available to legal residents of the state of Texas. We also do not conduct therapy online via texting therapy, text message, video chatting or chat sessions because we feel that it’s just not as effective as web therapy with live video. Furthermore, if you are in a crisis, having suicidal thoughts, or if you are in imminent danger, we implore you to call 911 for immediate help or go directly to the nearest emergency treatment center..
Online counseling is not the same as face-to-face psychotherapy and is not an appropriate treatment for all clients. There are pros and cons to both methods. Online therapy is not appropriate form of counseling if your presenting issue is an emergency. If you are having suicidal or homicidal thoughts, if you are addicted to drugs or alcohol or if you need a medical diagnosis or prescription, distance therapy is not a good fit. Inoffice therapy would be a better fit to ensure your safety and provide more effective treatment.
We will conduct a screening prior to engaging in therapy via online counseling to make sure it is a good fit for you. If it is determined that you would be better served via face-to-face methods, we will assist you with locating an appropriate referral. Our office is located in Houston, Tx.
Technical Steps to Prepare for Your First Online Therapy Appointment:
- Download the Chrome or Firefox browser onto your desktop or laptop if you will be using this device for your session.
- Make sure the desktop/laptop you are using has a built-in camera or webcam (same as what you would normally use for facetime or similar service).
- If you are using a phone or tablet, you will need a gmail account. If you don’t already have one, you can create one here. Then download the app, “Hangouts for Meet by Google” from the app store.
- Your therapist will email you a link just before your session time, just click on the link from your device, then click “ask to join” and you are ready to go!
Are You Ready To Set Up Your First Virtual Counseling Session?
If you would like to know more about our services or to set up an appointment for your first video therapy session, please call 832-559-2622 or click here to get started. Our warm and compassionate staff would be pleased to address any additional questions or concerns you may have. We look forward to helping you!