What is teletherapy?

Teletherapy is a format of psychotherapy that is conducted through a live video connection via the internet. Clients receive the same treatment as they would in person through either a computer or mobile phone. If you are familiar to Skype or Facetime, then you can gain a greater sense of the technology teletherapy uses. 

What types of therapy can be provided via teletherapy? 

The most common types of therapies can be effectively provided through technology. Through this virtual environment, client and therapists can interact with each other, and the therapists uses the same traditional techniques and activities they would use in a face-to-face therapy session (Goode and Shinkle, 2019). Research has found that video teleconferencing can be an effective means for therapists to provide exposure and response prevention (ERP) for OCD in children and adults (Andersson, 2012; Lenhard, 2017). As with face-to-face therapy, a client may only seek out the therapist for one session to deal with a current life situation, or they may agree to on-going sessions.

Are Teletherapy Sessions Private?

Therapists are ethically and legally bound by privacy laws to not share details about their teletherapy sessions with third parties, just as with face-to-face sessions. Therapists must ensure they are in a private and secure room before engaging in any teletherapy sessions. Sessions should not be recorded or shared, unless with explicit agreement from the patient (Mead, 2020).

From the patient end, it is also down to them to ensure they conduct their end of the session in an equally private area to ensure their confidentiality (Mead, 2020).

In terms of the security of the software used, therapists utilizing teletherapy must use specialized software that is fully encrypted, offering a high level of security and privacy. Any software that therapists use for telepsychology must be approved by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). This is legislation that ensures data privacy and security for safeguarding medical information, including therapy (Mead, 2020).

Is Teletherapy as Effective as Face to Face Therapy?

How effective teletherapy is, really depends on the individual and their reasons for seeking therapy. Since it first began to be used as a treatment method more than 20 years ago, psychological research has explored the different ways teletherapy has been used, and it’s effectiveness.

Overall the research does support that teletherapy is just as effective as traditional face-to-face therapy for a range of circumstances (Acierno et al., 2014; Mitchel et al., 2008; Wagner, Horn, and Maercker, 2013).