Uses of telehealth
Since COVID-19 affected every aspect of our lives, the development and use of telehealth services in the medical and mental health field has become a norm. Even corporate America has adopted full-time work-from-home and hybrid models due to the benefits of working remotely.
Telehealth has been incredibly useful, especially since more and more people are seeking services for mental health support. Telehealth allowed people to receive care safely and effectively during the peak of COVID, and people are still receiving telehealth services for many different reasons to this day. Although counselors and clients are coming back to the office for in-person services, telehealth has many benefits and uses.
Even though telehealth can be convenient and helpful, telehealth has challenges, specifically within the mental health field. We hope to explain and provide reasons to take advantage of telehealth services as well as provide awareness of telehealth’s challenges and drawbacks.
Benefits of telehealth
The concept of telehealth was developed in the 1950s to provide access to patients who suffered from chronic diseases and did not have the ability or means to travel to the doctor or hospital (National Academies Press (US), 2012). Over time, telehealth has evolved for medical and mental health services to provide access to healthcare for those in need.
Best practices for telehealth have become standard for medical and mental health providers to ensure the safety and beneficence of clients. Telehealth is practiced with HIPAA-compliant, secure virtual platforms between client and counselor. Counselors also must ensure they have secure spaces to provide counseling to their clients (Sheperis & Smith, 2021).
Telehealth has also been researched to have significant positive impacts on people who have limited access to in-person counseling. Many clients may have insurance, such as Medicaid, that is not in-network with many offices. Therefore, clients are left with no choice but to travel 30 minutes to an hour or more to see their counselor. Moreover, in rural areas, it has been said, young adults have shown interest in using telehealth to have access to mental health services (Weinzimmer et al., 2021) due to limited access of offices nearby. Furthermore, in rural areas with limited access to multiple offices and practitioners, telehealth provides relief from overcrowded offices.
Another benefit for clients and counselors is the ability to have counseling sessions within the comfort of their own homes. For many people, driving to or talking with a stranger in an unfamiliar office can feel overwhelming. The comfort telehealth can offer is insurmountable for clients. Moreover, participating in telehealth from your home means overall less cost because you don’t have to pay for travel expenses to and from the office.
Challenges of telehealth
Drawbacks of telehealth can include the limited age range for clients seeking services in a telehealth format. After much research on the use of telehealth during COVID-19, researchers have found that providing virtual counseling for ages 3-11 can create challenges and does not have the best results for positive changes. Children may find it difficult to stay engaged on a telehealth platform and counselors have limited resources to provide behavioral, play, or art therapy for children (Hoffnung et al., 2021).
Other challenges using telehealth platforms for adults or counselors are internet connection issues, access to technology, access to privacy for clients, or distractions at home. While there are many benefits to using telehealth, it is important to be aware of the challenges one may face when participating in virtual counseling. Therapy is most effective when a client has a safe, secure place to be fully present and engaged.
Hoffnung, G., Feigenbaum, E., Schechter, A., Guttman, D., Zemon, V., & Schechter, I. (2021). Children and telehealth in mental healthcare: What we have learned from COVID‐19 and 40,000+ sessions. Psychiatric Research and Clinical Practice, 3(3), 106–114. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.prcp.20200035
National Academies Press (US). (2012, November 20). The evolution of telehealth: Where have we been and where are we going? The Role of Telehealth in an Evolving Health Care Environment – NCBI Bookshelf. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK207141/
Sheperis, D., & Smith, A. (2021). Telehealth Best Practice: A Call for Standards of Care. Journal of Technology in Counselor Education and Supervision, 1(1), 27–31. https://doi.org/10.22371/tces
Weinzimmer, L. G., Dalstrom, M., Klein, C. J., Foulger, R., & De Ramirez, S. S. (2021). The relationship between access to mental health counseling and interest in rural telehealth. Journal of Rural Mental Health, 45(3), 219–228. https://doi.org/10.1037/rmh0000179
*If you are looking to find the perfect provider to help you through your journey, please contact Bridgeview Clinical Service (630) 536-8073 or firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an intake.*
*If you are looking for an internship or a job in mental health care (admin, LPC, LCPC) please email email@example.com to schedule an internship. *