Why Teletherapy Might Be the Best Form of Therapy For You Right Now
•5 min read
In an increasingly digital world, online therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is providing new opportunities for people to access the resources and support they need. OCD teletherapy can give you all the benefits of traditional therapy with the added flexibility, safety and simplicity of virtual appointments.
What is teletherapy, and how does it compare to in-person therapy? Let’s break down how OCD teletherapy works and why it might be the best form of therapy for you.
What is teletherapy?
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), teletherapy is the “provision of behavioral and/or mental health care services using technological modalities in lieu of, or in addition to, traditional face-to-face methods.” In other words, teletherapy involves therapy sessions with a mental health professional that are conducted through other means than in-person sessions — including video chats, phone calls or online messaging.
How do online therapy sessions work?
Online therapy sessions for OCD are just like traditional therapy sessions, with one significant difference: You and your therapist will be in different places.
During a scheduled video session, the patient and therapist will log in through a secure video platform. Using webcams and microphones, the therapist and client will see and hear each other in real time. You can interact just as you would in an in-person talk therapy session; even in a virtual setting, the therapist will use many of the same techniques they would use in face-to-face therapy.
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Is teletherapy as effective as in-person therapy?
Since the introduction of teletherapy over 20 years ago, psychological research has explored the differences between in-person and virtual therapy. In general, research supports the conclusion that teletherapy is just as effective as traditional in-person therapy.
One study found that a group of people who received teletherapy for depression reported fewer depressive thoughts and feelings after treatment concluded than a group that received traditional therapy. Another study exploring therapy methods for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) found that folks treated with teletherapy showed the same improvements as people treated with in-person therapy.
While teletherapy looks promising, it’s important to remember that the key to any effective therapy session is the relationship between the patient and the therapist. Whether that crucial connection is formed face-to-face or monitor-to-monitor, finding the right therapist for you is a critical part of therapeutic success.
Benefits of OCD teletherapy
OCD teletherapy brings notable benefits to folks who are looking for therapy in the digital age:
1. It’s accessible
There are many reasons why people who need help don’t reach out to therapists. Aside from feelings of stigma and the thought that perhaps their issues “aren’t severe enough,” various logistical issues create barriers between therapists and the folks who need their help:
- Geographic distance
- Lack of access to transportation
- Financial strain
- Severe compulsions that make coming into the office a challenge
OCD teletherapy removes some of these barriers by offering a more accessible and often more affordable option to get the help you seek for your symptoms. For people in small towns, for instance, not only might they find it difficult to find a therapist, but locating one who specializes in ERP therapy might be especially difficult.
2. It’s more flexible
It can be hard to fit therapy into a busy schedule, especially when you have to commute. For folks who have enough responsibilities on their hands, teletherapy is a solution that’s readily available whenever and wherever. This flexibility makes it easier to get support when you need it most; teletherapy can accommodate emergencies, cancellations or schedule changes when needed.
3. It reduces wait times
In addition to removing commutes, teletherapy means no more time spent in a waiting room. Long wait times can deter people who have busy schedules and produce unnecessary frustration and anxiety. Online counseling lets you step into a private room for a therapy session and then return just as quickly to your daily life. For OCD therapy this is especially important. Locating a therapist who specializes in ERP might mean sitting on a waitlist for months before you get an appointment. Services like NOCD given its extensive network and it’s teletherapy setup allows patients to see a trained ERP therapist in a matter of a few days.
4. It’s (usually) more private
While all therapy sessions are private, secure and confidential, some patients might find more comfort knowing their therapists live far away — it’s a lot less likely you’ll run into your therapist at the grocery store or meet people who you know attend the same practice.
For OCD therapy in particular, social stigma often stops people from seeking help. Teletherapy eliminates this stress altogether by giving you face-to-face access to a support system in a secure and private online setting.
5. It’s less stressful
Traditional in-person counseling settings can be stressful. You have to get used to being in a new environment, and some therapeutic environments — such as more formal office settings — can feel stressful.
Teletherapy gives you access to professional support from the comfort of more familiar settings. You will literally feel at home while attending your therapy session as you put yourself at ease by sipping a mug of coffee, wrapping yourself with your favorite blanket or sitting on a comfortable couch.
With online teletherapy networks, if you have a bad experience or if the therapist just isn’t the right fit for you, it’s quick and easy to switch to somebody else.
6. It can be effective for ERP
Exposure and Response prevention is the gold standard treatment for those living with OCD. This therapy involves a patient and a therapist working together to expose people to their intrusive thoughts and work with them to resist the urge to carry out their compulsions.
Teletherapy can be especially effective for ERP because it can allow the therapist to be present while a patient works on their exposures. While there may be instances that this can be done in person, teletherapy allows the patient to experience a larger number of exposures with the therapist present. This can be extremely helpful to the patient to have their therapist present.
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7. It’s safer
In the age of COVID-19, it’s more important than ever that both the patient and therapist stay safe. In a closed physical space, the risk of disease transmission can put you, other patients and the therapist in danger. Teletherapy makes it easy to practice social distancing and keeps everyone safer amid the pandemic.
The future of OCD therapy
In an ever-changing world, teletherapy can offer flexible and accessible support for folks who experience OCD symptoms and are looking for help.
Virtual and video therapy for OCD lets you face your triggers in real time — with your therapist’s guidance — without having to leave the comfort of your own home. Teletherapy also eliminates many logistical barriers that can prevent you from getting the support you’re looking for, making it easier than ever to take back control of your life and improve your symptoms.
If you or someone you know is struggling with OCD, you can schedule a free call today with the NOCD clinical team to learn more about how a licensed therapist can help. At NOCD, all therapists specialize in OCD and receive ERP-specific training. ERP is most effective when the therapist conducting the treatment has experience with OCD and training in ERP.