Benefits of Telehealth for Counseling During a Pandemic
2020 has been a year unlike any other. For most Americans, our way of life has drastically changed while we learn to cope with COVID-19. Many families are struggling right now with job loss and social isolation, not to mention the fear of getting sick.
You may have considered beginning counseling but are worried about the safety of visiting a therapist’s office when you’re supposed to be social distancing. Luckily, therapy doesn’t have to fall by the wayside during the pandemic; The Becoming offers telehealth visits for clients all over Tennessee.
Meet Patience Ruffin, EdD, LPC-MHSP, NCC
Patience Ruffin is one of The Becoming’s licensed professional counselors. She has been a therapist for 13 years and has a doctorate in Counseling Education and Supervision from Argosy University Nashville.
Patience believes that mental health care should not move to the back burner while we wait for the world to go back to normal.
“Therapy is self-care,” she says, “And you should never be too busy to take care of you.”
Attending therapy isn’t an indulgence but a form of mental hygiene. It’s essential to attend to your mental health, the same way you take showers and brush your teeth.
Why Telehealth Works for Mental Health
Based on the severity of one’s symptoms, telehealth can be a fantastic way to keep your mental health in check. Remote appointments are a flexible offering whether you’re struggling with new feelings of anxiety or depression or want to continue the therapeutic work you’ve already been doing.
Here are 4 ways telemedicine is changing therapy for the better:
Improved Access to Underserved Groups
According to Patience, telehealth has “blown the top off” client access to therapy. Before telemedicine, counseling was only available to those who could get to an office for an appointment.
Clients who are housebound or don’t have access to reliable transportation had a much harder time finding mental health care. But now, those clients can see their therapist with the push of a button.
The therapists at The Becoming can take appointments from clients all over Tennessee – not just Nashville residents. Remote appointments are especially useful for social distancing.
“Anyone who is high risk but still experiencing symptoms can do telehealth.” One of Patience’s clients, an older adult, recently had an amputation. The surgery put her in a high-risk category for COVID-19, but she can still see her therapist thanks to telehealth. This would have been nearly impossible ten years ago. Now, this client can adjust to her new life while receiving critical mental health support.
Attend Therapy in the Place You Feel Most Comfortable
For people experiencing a mental health crisis, just setting an appointment for counseling can feel like an insurmountable obstacle.
“People find it hard to ask for help – that’s what’s making the phone seem so scary,” Patience says. “It’s the vulnerability to say, ‘I’m in trouble.’ That’s a really difficult thing to do.”
Luckily, The Becoming makes it easy to schedule an appointment. You can book a session with a specific therapist directly on the website or call to speak with our Client Coordinators, who will match you with the counselor best suited to your needs.
And if phone calls are a barrier, we can call you! Leave a message on our website and our Client Coordinators will reach out to you.
Counselors can sometimes even set appointments over text. Once you’ve spoken to your counselor, you may find some hope – a light at the end of the tunnel. Best of all, thanks to telemedicine, you can now attend therapy in your own home or wherever you have internet access and feel most at ease.
When depression has you glued to the couch, it feels impossible to get out the door. Now, you can speak with your counselor from a place of comfort. This can make you feel less vulnerable and make it easier to open up to your therapist.
It’s More Convenient
Unfortunately, many Americans are still as busy as we were before the pandemic invaded our lives. Work obligations haven’t slowed for many clients, and it can be challenging to fit therapy into a busy schedule.
Telehealth removes one significant barrier to attending appointments: driving time. Any Nashville resident can tell you that traffic has gotten much worse in the city over the past few years.
If the thought of battling traffic makes your blood pressure rise, you’re in luck. The lack of drive time means therapy is shorter overall. A 60-minute appointment isn’t buffeted by an hour or so in the car. This also makes it easier for couples and families to have meetings together.
Patience’s clients take their appointments in their homes, offices, and even in their cars. “All you need to access therapy these days is a phone or an iPad. It’s handheld therapy,” she says.
It’s Easier to Shop Around
Not every therapist is a good match for every client. Therapy is an intimate relationship, and it’s crucial for clients to feel comfortable with their counselor.
Patience recalls, “I had a new telehealth client the other day, and as soon as we started she said, ‘I’m so nervous!’”
Patience understands this trepidation, and that’s why she believes it’s important to look around for a counselor whose approach feels comfortable.
“You want to work with someone whose style puts you at ease. I’m an energetic person, and I want my clients to know that upfront!” she says.
Some therapists even provide video introductions on their websites, so you can see if their energy is right for you. “It makes it feel less like a blind date,” she says.
Patience encourages anyone beginning therapy to try a few sessions with a few different counselors. Telehealth appointments make this process go much more quickly, and at The Becoming, our Client Coordinators will be with you every step of the way to help you find a good match.
Patience wants her current and prospective clients to feel like they are in control of their mental health.
“You can’t show up for everybody else and be who they need you to be if you’re not taking care of yourself,” she says. While remote therapy is particularly necessary these days, Patience thinks telemedicine is here to stay.
“Technology has taken away the excuses. If you desire to work on your mental health, telehealth has provided the opportunity.”
Are You Looking for a Telehealth Therapist?
Call us today at 615-544-6600, or send us a message using the form on our website. Our Client Coordinators will give you a free consultation and match you with a licensed counselor. Don’t wait another minute to prioritize your mental wellbeing.
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