MOVING THERAPY OUTSIDE OF THE CLINIC: CONSIDERATIONS OF VIRTUAL SERVICES
There are many potential benefits to working with a psychologist virtually. In some cases, meeting online is preferred and can even enhance the experience of therapy.
Accessibility: Virtual therapy eliminates the need for travel, saving time and reducing transportation issues and stress. This may be especially helpful in reducing barriers for individuals with limited mobility, health conditions or disabilities, those living in remote areas, or people with busy schedules.
Convenience and Flexibility: Virtual therapy offers flexibility in scheduling appointments. It removes the need to coordinate in-person meetings and eliminates extra travel or time waiting. Clients can often find appointment times that fit their schedules more easily.
Continuous Care: Virtual therapy can provide ongoing support during unexpected events or major transitions such as relocation, travel, or temporary circumstances that may disrupt in-person therapy. Clients can stay connected with their therapists from anywhere in Ontario or anywhere their clinician is permitted to practice. In some cases, with notice, clinicians may be able to obtain permission to continue sessions while clients are in other provinces or outside of Canada.
Comfort and Familiarity: Some people may feel more at ease in their own environment, which can increase comfort and openness during sessions. Being in a familiar space can also create a sense of security, making it easier for clients to discuss sensitive or personal topics.
Privacy: Virtual therapy provides a level of privacy that may be beneficial for some people, such as those who may feel self-conscious or stigmatized about seeking therapy. Virtual therapy eliminates the need to physically visit a therapist’s office, allowing clients to access support from the comfort and convenience of their own chosen environment.
Use of Technology: Virtual therapy may incorporate digital tools that can enhance the therapeutic experience, promote collaboration, and increase engagement. Therapists and clients can share, submit, or co-create resources, documents, and worksheets electronically. Videos, music, websites, articles, games, and various online activities or resources can be used in engaging and creative ways to foster learning, reinforce skills, and incorporate client interests and preferences into sessions.
In-the-Moment Experiences: Virtual therapy may allow therapists to incorporate in-the-moment experiences into sessions more easily. For example, therapists can be with clients virtually as they use skills or complete goals in their own environment, allowing for immediate support and guidance. Practicing in real-life settings can enhance flexibility and reinforce and consolidate new skills and strategies as they are applied directly to the client’s unique circumstances.
More Options: With virtual therapy, people have more therapists to choose from since they are not limited by location. This allows clients to find therapists who have experience related to their specific concerns or who align with client preferences, increasing the likelihood of finding a good therapeutic fit.
The advantages of convenience, comfort, and use of digital tools play an important role in enhancing the effectiveness and consistency of therapy. Nonetheless, it is important to acknowledge that virtual therapy may not be suitable for everyone, and it can present certain drawbacks or obstacles.
Technical Difficulties: Virtual therapy needs a stable internet connection and appropriate technology. Issues such as poor video or audio quality, glitches, or connection problems can disrupt the therapeutic process. Our office provides detailed instructions and guidelines on technical requirements for sessions and your therapist will work with you to create a plan for handling unexpected technical difficulties. Virtual therapy may not be suitable for people who are less familiar or comfortable with technology or who do not have access to reliable internet or suitable devices.
Limited Nonverbal Cues: In virtual therapy, some nonverbal cues may be less visible or harder to interpret when compared to in-person sessions. In some cases, this can make it more challenging for therapists to pick up on a client's emotions or reactions. Nevertheless, while not always as comprehensive as in-person interactions, video-based therapy does allow therapists to observe and respond to clients' facial expressions, body language, and other emotional cues.
Distractions and Privacy Concerns: While virtual therapy provides privacy in one's own environment, it also exposes clients to potential distractions or interruptions. Concerns may arise if individuals do not have an appropriate space for attending sessions or if others can overhear the conversation. Clients are encouraged to choose a quiet and private location with minimal distractions, turn off notifications, close unnecessary apps, and use headphones.
Less Research: Virtual therapy is a relatively recent alternative to in-person therapy. Therefore, there is less research compared to in-person therapy. Research to date suggests that virtual therapy can be as effective as in-person therapy for a variety of mental health conditions and concerns. Symptom reduction and client satisfaction have been found to be comparable to in-person therapy. Research suggests that a therapeutic relationship can be effectively established and maintained in virtual therapy and things like trust, empathy, and rapport between the therapist and client are crucial regardless of the therapy format.
Virtual therapy offers a valuable, effective, and flexible option that works well for many people. It's important to note that the advantages and disadvantages can vary depending on individual circumstances, goals, and personal preferences. Our dedicated administrative staff and clinicians look forward to collaborating with you to determine the approach that will best fit your specific needs.