What Happened When I Tried Teletherapy With My Usual Therapist
This week I tried teletherapy, one of the workarounds that psychiatric patients have turned to in order to promote their own mental health, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I know there are various online companies that specialize in teletherapy, or other health conditions plus psychiatric ones. Among these are Talkspace, BetterHelp, and Brightside, plus meditation and mindfulness apps such as Insight Timer. I wrote about the phenomenon back in January.
In that post, I said that I hadn’t needed to try teletherapy yet, though I did mention having had telephone sessions with Dr. B., my psychotherapist. These were set up when I was unable to make it to my sessions, whether for transportation or psychological reasons. They helped but were not ideal, of course, because we couldn’t see each other’s faces and body language. Now, of course, with the proliferation of tablets, smartphones and apps like Zoom, that’s no longer a hindrance.
Lately, I’ve been feeling a need to go back into therapy and by default, I had to use teletherapy, as Dr. B. still isn’t seeing clients in person. (I had done Zoom calls for various other purposes, so I knew the drill.) We set up an appointment and I thought about what topics to bring up, since I hadn’t seen her in so long.
I still don’t know all the advantages and disadvantages of commercial teletherapy, but I wasn’t tempted to try it.
First of all, I hate breaking in a new psychiatrist or therapist under any circumstances, as I had to do when my regular psychiatrist retired and moved. At this point, even the Reader’s Digest version of my life — or even just my mental health journey – would take several sessions. And I don’t trust therapy that starts without knowing my diagnosis, my medications (including the ones I’ve tried that didn’t work), what triggers me, at least a summary of my major depressive episodes, what therapy I’ve had so far, what I learned from it, my family and childhood and relationships, and more.
Not to say that a person couldn’t help me at all with my current situation (a possible onset of a major depressive episode) without the backstory, but all that history informs what I’m going through now and why. Going through it would take several sessions before we ever got to my current problem.
So, Dr. B. agreed to see me promptly and I appreciated it greatly. I was able to skip all the history and just get to the meat of my problems. She was able to remind me of some of the things that have helped me in the past and suggest some new things as well. And we set up another appointment for next week. One of the things she recommended was that I check with the psychiatrist who prescribes my meds, as I’ve been having some trouble with sleep. (Fortunately, my next appointment with Dr. G. was within the week. I see him only four times a year for maintenance.)
I had my appointment with Dr. G. He refilled all my meds, but had little to suggest about any of my other problems. He heartily agreed with my decision to go back to seeing Dr. B. He told me that one of my meds which I thought I might switch from nighttime to daytime was the kind that built up to a certain level in the bloodstream and it didn’t matter when I took it. And he suggested I make an appointment with my primary care physician regarding a matter that seemed not to be psychiatric in nature. (I agreed, and will do that as soon as the holiday weekend is over.)
So, where does this leave me? In touch with three doctors who know me and know my conditions. Set up with regular appointments to keep an eye – and an ear – on my symptoms. Reassured that my meds are functioning as they should, even if my brain isn’t.
All in all, I don’t feel better, but I feel better about it, if you know what I mean.
Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash