Hmmmm, not sure?
I know some people are skeptical of distance counseling — that is, communicating with a therapist by electronic means instead of in an office. And there are some good reasons for being skeptical. Good therapy is all about trust. Checking someone out, making sure they are trained, licensed and certified, not to mention experienced, is a great idea.
There are some potential pitfalls, including the possibility for less accurate communication. For instance, during a phone session the inability to literally see eye to eye can make a difference in picking up subtle cues that can inform therapy. And for building the therapeutic relationship, being able to physically sit in the same room together can be a very helpful aspect that isn’t there when you’re online or on the phone.
Barriers Keep People Stuck
But what if the distance keeps you from coming to therapy at all? In many cases, the option of being able to participate in therapy over the phone or online can mean the difference between improving your life or staying stuck in a lot of pain. For those who find distance or scheduling to be a real problem, distance therapy can be a lifesaver.
Say a couple is having more and more arguments, and finding problems going unresolved. But due to kids and difficult work schedules, they put off counseling for weeks, months, even years. If they could actually schedule in marriage counseling during a lunch hour, and never have to leave the parking lot of their office, they might eliminate years of struggle for themselves and their family.
There is a long list of potential reasons someone might need distance counseling. It could be that someone has to travel for work frequently, or perhaps they have physical limitations or driving restrictions. Sometimes someone can just afford counseling but not the extra cost of gasoline and a babysitter. No matter what the reason, if it keeps you from your goal of creating a better life, why wait?
There Are Options
I provide both phone counseling and online therapy through a HIPAA compliant platform much like Skype but with better privacy provisions. Some people may want to combine in-office sessions with phone or online sessions, and that’s always an option too.
The subject is coming up more and more often, and has been getting wide news coverage. If you’re curious about how it can work for you, I’d be happy to answer your questions.
Margie Wheelhouse is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Springfield, Illinois. She helps couples build great relationships and repair broken ones.