By Bronwyn Robertson, LPC
Alesha is anxious and overwhelmed. She isn’t sleeping and neither are her children. They are irritable, bored and gloomy. They miss their friends and teachers, and all the things they used to do. Alesha knows she and her children would benefit from counseling, but their schedules are so hectic she doesn’t know how they could fit in counseling appointments. And, she’s cautious about scheduling any appointments because of the pandemic.
For Alesha and her children, online therapy with an enCircle counselor may be the answer. Online therapy is a safe, convenient alternative to in-person counseling sessions. Through online therapy, Alesha and her children can participate in individual and family counseling sessions from the comfort and safety of their own home using their own computers, tablets or smartphones. They can schedule appointments around their schedule, avoid travel, traffic, and crowded waiting rooms.
Studies show online therapy can be effective for almost any age group and is at least as effective as in-person therapy. It may be even more effective for some people with ADHD, anxiety, and depression than traditional in-person therapy.
To participate effectively in online therapy, our counselors recommend three things: a good, secure internet connection, a computer, tablet or smartphone with a webcam and microphone, and a private place. Young children who are easily distracted and/or who have had no prior experience with skype, face time or gaming applications may need to participate in family sessions or joint sessions with parents rather than by themselves. But it’s important to note, people who are in crisis or who have serious mental health challenges may need a higher level of care than can be provided through online counseling.
Several enCircle counselors specialize in helping children and offer therapy that can be conducted in their own room where they have access to their favorite toys, crayons, paper and pencils. These items will likely be used in therapy sessions. Depending on the age and specific needs of the child, the therapist may ask that a parent join the child at first.
Online therapy follows the same clinical and ethical regulations as in-person therapy, and must be provided via a safe, HIPAA-compliant electronic platform which ensures client confidentiality and privacy. Prior to the pandemic when online services were less common, some therapists received special training to provide online therapy, even becoming certified providers of tele-counseling by successfully completing a multi-day training and examination.
Another benefit of online therapy is that the therapist and client do not have to be in the same city or county, making it possible for people in rural areas or without easy access to transportation able to get help. It can also help college students away from home continue to receive support from a therapist with whom they have built a connection during high school. The huge growth in online therapy during the pandemic is one bright spot in what has otherwise been a very trying time. It’s important to note that people receiving online counseling must be in the same state in which the therapist is licensed. So, if a therapist is licensed in Virginia, the person receiving therapy must be in Virginia at the time of the session.
If you are seeking therapy for yourself or your loved ones, online therapy may be the most effective, most convenient, and safest alternative to in-person therapy. Our counselors are here to help! Meet our counselors and learn what they have to offer.