The Surprising Benefits of Teletherapy

Would you have tried teletherapy before 2020? The answer, for most, would probably be “No.”

2020 forced us to adapt and give it a try, though. 

What did we gain from this year-plus-long experiment? A bunch of data showing that teletherapy actually works!

We’ve even discovered that teletherapy offers certain advantages that in-person meetings can’t. If you’re still on the fence, read on to discover the unexpected but welcome benefits of teletherapy.

Therapy in Action

Normally, in-person sessions happen in the “bubble” of the psychologist’s office. 

You sit in a clean, uncluttered room on a rattan sofa, surrounded by peaceful music and perhaps a little bubbling fountain. In that almost-heavenly space, you try to describe your chaotic life in words.

Teletherapy happens in the environment where you likely encounter the chaos. And while that might sound difficult or annoying — it certainly can be — it’s also an amazing opportunity to confront these challenges head-on.

Good-bye, Commute

Do you sometimes dilly-dally before a session and arrive late? Have you ever taken on extra work at the end of the day, knowing it means you’ll have to skip an appointment?

Sometimes we make honest miscalculations and miss therapy because of them. But other times… we run these interferences as a defense mechanism. 

Maybe the truth is that you were tired that week, and you didn’t really want to expend emotional energy in session. That’s understandable. Any forthright counselor will tell you that therapy is hard work — but it also comes with great rewards. 

For teletherapy, all that you need is a private enough space, a computer/tablet/phone, and wifi. It eliminates the commute, helping to alleviate both physical and mood obstacles.

Unexpected traffic won’t stop you from attending. And if an emotional block tries to convince you, well, you just lost an excuse. Instead of sitting in a car or public transit, you could take some extra self-care time to restore your energy.

Freedom from Childcare

This benefit goes out to harried parents and caregivers. You might really need therapy, especially since relationships often shift dramatically after children are born. But it can be difficult to secure childcare for an hour or two on weekday afternoons or evenings.

There’s no need to hire a sitter for teletherapy sessions. You can find ways to occupy children for an hour while still giving yourself the privacy you need for a session. 

And even if they do interrupt the session, it’s another one of those golden, real-life practice opportunities. A resourceful therapist will embrace the distraction as a learning experience. 

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A Note on the Lack of Commute

It’s totally normal to feel a little spacey, quiet, or tired right after therapy. Your brain is likely undergoing “passive processing,” digesting all the stirred-up emotions, thoughts, and wisdom from the conversation.

Commutes used to be the perfect time to let this process happen. Without that buffer, we recommend you build in purposeful pre-appointment and post-appointment downtime.

Schedule 20-30 minutes to go for a walk, make a meal, or just sit. It will optimize gains from your session, and it will help you avoid possible negative consequences from neglecting this need. If you have children around, it’s the perfect nap time or a chance to sit and cuddle with them.

Without a pre-session commute to mentally prepare, it’s okay to take 5-10 minutes at home to do that. Do things that help you feel centered. That could mean writing down a few goals for that session, stretching your body, or simply doing nothing. 

Some clients benefit from breathing exercises, too. Set a timer for a few minutes, then bring a gentle focus to the physical sensation of your inhale and exhale. 

If you need to calm down from a hectic day, count four seconds for your inhale and six seconds for your exhale. Try to keep extending the length. Just don’t get light-headed! 

Keep the exercise mellow, so you’ll be energized for the work ahead.

Walt Ciecko, Ph. D., BCB
605 Wynyard Rd
Wilmington, DE 19803