With the spread of Covid-19 and the imposition of public health measures, now might be a time to look at telepsychology. For those who are self-isolating, telepsychology offers an opportunity to connect with a therapist from the comfort of your own home.
The obvious benefit of telepsychology is that a person can have an appointment with their therapist without having to be in the same room. While this is an appropriate option at a time of social distancing, it can be useful in a variety of situations. For clients with limited mobility, telepsychology can save the hassle of travelling to an office. If a client or therapist is travelling, telepsychology can be arranged to maintain regular appointments, or used during an emergency.
The consistent surprise for me is how much clients enjoy telepsychology. As a therapist, I’ve got this idea that something about my in-person presence provides most of my clinical effectiveness. I’ve learned from clients over and over again that talking with me over the phone is just as good, or in some cases better, than having to come to my office. If you’re anxious about leaving your home for all but the most essential needs, telepsychology might be worth a try.
If you’ve read this far, you’re either engaged by my wit (do I have that though?) or you’re interested in telepsychology. The first step that I would suggest would be to find a psychologist who is willing to do free consultations. Ask them what options they have for telepsychology and then arrange your consultation using the technology that you’re most interested in. After a 15 to 30-minute consultation, it’ll be easier to decide if telepsychology (and the particular therapist) is going to work for you.
To decide which type of telepsychology is best, try to think about what you’re comfortable with. If you’ve never tried chatting over video, and you find technology difficult to manage, perhaps the phone is a more comfortable option. If you’re young enough to have only had phone conversations with the phone company and your parents, you might be more interested in video psychology. Personal preference is the most important factor.
Sooner or later, this public health crisis will end. But for now, we might have to make some changes to make sure that we’re taking care of ourselves. And who knows, some of these changes might end up being improvements.
Dave Ponak is a psychologist working in the Kensington neighbourhood of Calgary. Growing up during the popularization of the internet, he is continually fascinated by modern communication possibilities.