Distance Counseling Therapy Brings Mental Health Services To Patients In Need

Distance counseling, also called distance therapy, is bringing mental health services to previously inaccessible patients as technological advances make it easier to communicate with patients on a personal basis. The practice involves using voice, text and video technology to deliver and receive services wherever you are.

Texas Rules in Favor of Distance Counseling

Texas regulators recently denied the addition of a proposed rule which would require patients to have one in-person session before participating in distance counseling. Many remote counties in Texas do not have even one psychiatrist in practice, so trying to get to a face-to-face session would be a hardship for many of those who desperately need care. In many rural and remote areas of the U.S., the same situation exists, and people who were not able to travel to the therapist's office for whatever reason were previously left with nowhere to turn. Unfortunately, not all states have approved distance therapy, so many are still left without needed care.

How Does Distance Counseling Take Place?

How you receive your therapy depends on your situation. Depending on what your therapist is willing to provide, you can have your sessions

  • by phone - this is good for those who do not have internet access or are not computer savvy.
  • by email - this is excellent for those who benefit from having the therapist's words in writing, such as those with conditions that affects memory.
  • by text chat - with text chat sessions, both you and the therapist can save the transcript to refer to later if needed.
  • by video chat - this is a good way to meet face-to-face without having to leave the comfort of your home. These sessions can also be saved for later reference.

What Are the Benefits of Distance Counseling?

The main benefit of distance therapy is that it brings much-needed psychiatric and psychological services directly to patients instead of requiring an office visit. This benefits a number of patients, such as

  • phobic or agoraphobic patients who have a hard time leaving their homes and interacting personally with others
  • patients with child care or transportation problems
  • chronically ill, disabled or bedridden patients
  • patients for whom the cost or time involved in traveling to an office far away is prohibitive

If you don't have a local counselor, contact the American Distance Counseling Association for information on finding services in your state. You may also want to contact Commonweath Affiliates PC or a similar organization to learn more about counseling.