Why I Would Consider Telehealth Even After COVID-19
People have received services from doctors and other health care providers either over the phone or through video conferencing for years now. Before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, though, I personally had only utilized telehealth once before to attend a virtual therapy session while I was on vacation. After all, the idea of talking to my psychiatrist or even primary care physician through a video conferencing app seemed, well, highly impersonal and fairly ineffective.
Since March, I have attended weekly psychotherapy sessions online, connected with my psychiatrist every few months to handle medication refills, and even connected with my primary care physician. This isn’t really surprising to most people, especially given that a recent survey by CaringAdvisor showed that 68.7% of people have utilized telehealth before, and roughly half of those occurred in March 2020 or after.
My youngest daughter has also attended weekly occupational therapy and speech therapy appointments for her physical disability at various points throughout the pandemic. At first, I worried that these critical appointments would be less effective for her, but I was pleasantly surprised at how they went. This experience also didn’t stray much from the research either, as 3 in 5 people surveyed by CaringAdvisor found that telehealth appointments were not any less beneficial than their regular in-person sessions.
However, for me personally, I think the largest benefit of telehealth appointments has centered around my weekly therapy sessions. Since telehealth removes the drive time to and from sessions, seeing my therapist virtually has allowed me to schedule more appointments for longer durations. In fact, I have scheduled sessions during the workday and in the evening, both of which were all but impossible before the pandemic.
Additionally, my therapist and I have been able to bond in new ways given the nature of telehealth. We’ve been able to show off our pets to each other, survey the other person’s bookshelves, and just experienced life on a more personal level. While this may not seem like a benefit, this new level of connection has helped me feel safer and allowed me to tell my therapist the truth more often than ever before.
Finally, I think the biggest benefit of these virtual therapy sessions has been the fact that they’ve made it easier to dig deeper into my struggles. Before the pandemic, my therapist and I discussed the necessity of trauma treatment. Although I knew I needed to put in the work and I trusted my therapist, I still feared processing my trauma. Thanks to these telehealth appointments, though, I’ve slowly worked through these fears and started this much-needed work from the comfort of my home. This has not only allowed me to feel safe during difficult sessions, but it has also made my coping mechanisms easily accessible in moments when I feel overwhelmed or triggered.
Although I am excited for the day when I can return to seeing my therapist in her office, I don’t think that telehealth has been a bad thing whatsoever. In fact, I would willingly consider it for appointments with any of my providers in the future — just like 1 in 3 other Americans.
Getty Images photo via Feodora Chiosea