Statistics show, 6 out of 10 adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition did not receive mental health services in the past year. (SAMHSA) The main reasons are cost, stigma and lack of access. (Benefits Pro) For example, there are no practicing mental health workers in 55% of U.S. counties. Pine Rest is doing something about that by offering “teletherapy.” We spoke with Pine Rest Psychologist Elizabeth Cyr to find out what exactly that means.

What is teletherapy?

Sometimes called tele-mental health, teletherapy is the same as any appointment with a therapist in the office except that we use an online video chat similar to Skype or Facetime instead but with a HIPAA secure connection.

Is teletherapy effective?

Research has shown teletherapy to be as effective as in-person therapy. For some individuals it’s more effective since they are able to attend more sessions in total because of the scheduling flexibility, elimination of travel, and reduced time away from home and/or work.

Most insurance is now covering teletherapy. Approximately 56% of employers in the U.S. now offer telehealth for behavioral health services as a covered benefit, nearly double from 2017. This number would be even greater, except that not all states allow teletherapy yet, but this is quickly changing. (Forbes)

Who can teletherapy help?

Teletherapy helps people access treatment when they have difficulty getting to appointments because of issues with:

• Distance from providers, especially individuals who live in rural areas with no providers

• Lack of or limited transportation

• Work schedule/family responsibilities

• Child care arrangements

• Illness or disability makes it difficult to leave the home

• Out of town because of college, vacation, work, etc.

What are some of the benefits of teletherapy?

• It’s more relaxed and comforting to receive treatment while in your own home.

• For moms of young children, there’s reduced stress by not having to juggle another thing on top of nursing, nap schedules, preschool drop off, lack of sleep, etc.

• Reduced fatigue not having to ask for support for one more thing … leaving friends and family to provide support at other times and other ways.

• It can be helpful to sometimes have a support person, partner or spouse attend the sessions but the person couldn’t always because of distance, work, etc. Telehealth provides an opportunity to include them as well.

• Treatment doesn’t have to be either in the office or through Telehealth. Some clients have used a combination of in office and teletherapy.

Telehealth Services at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services

All Pine Rest therapists are highly qualified, state-licensed and certified mental health professionals using evidenced-based therapies such as cognitive behavior therapy, interpersonal therapy, emotion focused therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy. Nearly 100 therapists of their clinicians are trained to conduct teletherapy and counseling sessions with specialties including depression, anxiety, addiction, relationship issues, grief, trauma, anger management and more.

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