With an increasing need for mental health services for children it should be no surprise that clinicians are getting creative in making therapy more accessible. Telemental health or telehealth can be define as psychological counseling and support via email, video conferencing, online chat, or call. Telemental health It has been around for many years and is offered to both children and adults alike. While this can feel like a foreign concept to most parents, it is important to take time to educate yourself on the benefits of online therapy for your child.
Why telemental health?
Telemental health is an accessible model of therapy that allows therapists to meet clients where they are (literally). This form of therapy works well for children who may be reluctant about going to therapy or struggle with anxiety. The idea of talking to a stranger can be very scary for some children. When parents give their child the option to talk to someone without leaving the comfort of their own home this can be very appealing to them. This form of therapy is also a great alternative in conjunction with meeting in person. It is important to know that telemental health should be conducted on a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliant platform which means that sensitive client data is protected.
If your child currently attends therapy where they are engaging in art or play therapy modalities these activities can be done in-online sessions as well. A therapist can send you/your child a copy of the activity ahead of time or do screen sharing so they can engage in an activity together. The possibilities are endless with the evolution of technology and there are so many ways to make these sessions interactive. Some of the benefits of telemental health for children is:
It expands access
Telemental health puts mental health services within reach of children who live in rural or remote areas where therapists may be scarce. It also allows a parent to choice a therapist they are interested in without worrying about location or commute time. Furthermore, it helps parents with busy schedules still support their children.
For some parents, searching for a therapist can be a draining process filled with full caseloads and long wait times. By offering telemental health, this allows therapists to accept more clients in a shorter period of time.
Telemental health makes it easier for parents to fit appointments into their schedules without having to request time off from work. Therapists may also have more opportunities to increase their caseloads practicing telemental health because it cuts back on the need to commute to an office. This is specifically helpful since face-to-face businesses were required to close due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Some children may be worried about being seen by others in public. By working with therapists from home via teleconferencing, or by phone this can promote acceptance of treatment.
Overall, there are many benefits to telemental health for children and adults. It is important for parents to make sure that their child is in a quiet setting with limited distractions before starting their session. Parents can also be available during the first session to make sure that their child is comfortable with using technology and to ask the therapist any questions about the way the session will go. As parents, we want to give our children the best opportunities for success and having a variety of treatment options will allow that.