How Popular is Telehealth Counseling Right Now?
Telehealth counseling is something that has been around for a few years, however it was not widely used. With the pandemic, that has changed significantly.
According to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, telehealth counseling services went up by 2532% in March through June 2020 compared to 2019. That is a giant leap! An increase like that doesn’t just mean that telehealth counseling went up because regular counseling went down, it also means that people are in much more need of counseling than ever before. The stresses of 2020 are causing people without previous mental health concerns to seek help, and those already in treatment to need their services more than ever.
Even if there hadn’t been any changes to regulations, there would likely be a sharp increase in demand for telehealth counseling based on world events alone.
The pandemic has triggered a lot of anxiety, depression and loneliness due to the necessary isolation, the changing information as we learn more about COVID19, and the socio-economic fallout of lockdown.
More people are having mental health crises and are in need of counseling, so it makes sense that more people would be seeking help, and due to the nature of the pandemic it must be done remotely.
Prior to the pandemic, telehealth counseling and other telehealth services were quite limited in their reach. Usually, telehealth counseling would be limited to rural areas, and insurance companies had strict rules about what could be reimbursed. As a result, many therapists chose not to offer these services.
There was and is valid concern about patient privacy. We all heard the stories early in the pandemic of workplace meetings or virtual classes being bombarded by internet trolls acting inappropriately, though this has lessened as Zoom has tweaked its security vulnerabilities.
Now, you don’t even have to have a therapist from your own state and in all likelihood your telehealth counseling will be covered by insurance. The loosening of regulations by CMS and individual insurance providers was done to give people access to telehealth services during this stressful time and allow more frontline workers to focus on pandemic response.
What are the Advantages of Teleheath Counseling?
- Convenience: Prior to COVID19, if you had an appointment with a counselor you would have to drive or commute to their office, park, wait for your appointment, then drive back home or to work. Anyone who has ever encountered a mental health crisis knows that sometimes even rolling out of bed can feel impossible, so removing those additional steps between you and your appointment can help you attend your sessions more regularly.
- Safety: with the pandemic still raging, telehealth counseling provides you the same benefits of in-person appointments without the risk of viral transmission. It also means you don’t have to drive on icy roads or other inclement weather if you are able to have your appointment at home.
- Comfort: You can have your appointment in any room and in any outfit you choose! Lay down in bed, or your comfy couch in your favorite pj’s. Your therapist won’t judge, and you never know, they may be in their favorite pj’s too! Plus, you can have snacks, light a delicious smelling candle, and really make your hour about self-care. Feel free to make your environment as enjoyable as you need for your appointment.
- Accessibility: If your community is lacking in counseling services, telehealth counseling during COVID19 allows you to seek help from therapists in other communities or even other states.
How Does it Benefit the Therapist?
- Safety: in a typical day, a therapist may see half a dozen unique individuals each day. That is a large circle of people, not to mention co-workers, office staff and any family members who may be waiting in the lobby. During a pandemic, it makes sense to reduce the amount of people we are exposed to and offering telehealth counseling is an easy way to drastically reduce risk of exposure to COVID19.
- Wider reach: A great part of my job is meeting so many different people and helping them live their best lives. Telehealth counseling helps therapists meet a wider range of people, and help people who may not otherwise have access to counseling services.
- Convenience: Your therapist is a person too, and who doesn’t love avoiding a long commute before and after work? While workloads for us have been heavy during the pandemic, less travel time means more time to fit in new patients. Telehealth counseling gives us more flexibility, giving us more opportunities to fit to your schedule.
What to Expect
If you’ve ever had a regular counseling session, a telehealth counseling session will be almost exactly the same, except from the comfort of your own home.
We will spend some time getting to know each other, evaluate your needs and create a plan to make it happen.
You will need to have all relevant healthcare information handy for us to process, and usually once we have your info we won’t need to ask for it again.
Different services and different service providers may have different policies or capabilities for direct billing, so try and figure out those details before your appointment.
Is Telehealth Counselling Here to Stay?
While there’s no way to know for sure, telehealth counseling will likely never be as inaccessible or restricted as it was pre-pandemic. Frankly, it is too lucrative and gives access to too many individuals who would otherwise have to suffer in silence or seek help outside of their communities.
There is also the reality of the ripple effects of COVID19 causing a mental health crisis in our country. We won’t know the full effect of 2020 on our collective mental health until much later, though many people are having to isolate themselves.
Many people have lost jobs, and many people have lost loved ones. This collective stress, grief, anxiety and depression will require access to counseling like never before, and telehealth counseling makes seeking help a possibility for many who would otherwise have limited options.
If you have any questions, or for clients hoping to take their intimate lives to the next level through personalized sessions on YOUR terms, learn more about our Text Therapy Program.
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