Your Therapy

The effectiveness of video therapy has been a pleasant surprise

The height of the COVID-19 pandemic was a difficult time for everyone, and one most of us would like to leave in the rear-view mirror. However, as a long-time mental-health professional, the lockdown did produce one pleasant surprise: it made me a believer in video therapy.

Before the whole world suddenly started connecting over Zoom, I was aware that some respected practitioners were delivering online therapy. In particular, it was being offered to people living in very remote areas, or those with serious mobility issues, as a way to access the support they needed. In addition, I knew there was very good research suggesting that video therapy was effective at treating a variety of mental-health issues.

But I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve spent a lot of hours sitting in the same room with my clients. I guess I was a little old school in this respect, but from a personal perspective, I wasn’t totally sold on virtual therapy. I felt that I had to meet a client in person at least once before moving to video therapy.

However, I’m happy to report that I was wrong. Three years later, there’s no question in my mind that meeting with clients over video is a very effective mode of therapy. Client and therapist really can connect and communicate in all the important ways required to work on issues, and make meaningful progress. In addition, there is a significant body of research showing that virtual therapy is just as effective as in-person therapy.

As I mentioned, e-therapy was pioneered to offer services to people with no other way to see a therapist. What I and my colleagues have since realized, is that the convenience of video appointments makes therapy more accessible to everyone, regardless of their location or situation. The truth is, even if you only live or work 15 minutes away from my office, getting to a standard in- person appointment probably takes two hours out of your day, and maybe more. It turns out, busy lives and complex schedules were a barrier to many people getting the help they need. With video therapy, a 50-minute appointment takes about 52 minutes (depending on how fast your device boots up).

Along with a reliable internet connection, you do need a private space where you’re comfortable speaking freely, and won’t be interrupted. In a house full of people, or at a workplace, that can be a little tricky, but there are creative solutions. For example, I have some clients who regularly go sit in their car for our appointments. It seems a bit silly at first, but it’s actually a comfortable and private space, so it works perfectly.

That said, I do have a couple of caveats. With kids aged 7 to 12, who are easily distracted by screens and multitasking, video often isn’t ideal. Similarly, with some teens it’s a bit harder to make that personal connection over video. But when it comes to adults, or more mature youth, who are motivated and want to get better, video is every bit as effective as meeting in person.

Here at Your Therapy we’re committed to reducing barriers to getting help, and making our services available to as many people as possible. So, going forward, we’ll continue to offer virtual appointments, as well as in-person sessions. And you can feel confident that whatever mode of therapy you choose, you’re getting the best care we can provide.

Anu Chahauver, MSW, RSW is a registered social worker / psychotherapist specializing in individual, family, couple and parent based treatment of anxiety and other concerns at our clinic.

Your Therapy is a safe, welcoming, counselling therapy practice in the Greater Toronto Area. Thanks for reading and, as always, please feel free to reach out with questions about therapy or other mental health issues.

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