Skip to main content

An Overview of Telehealth Therapy

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth therapy has become increasingly important. A growing number of people are opting for telehealth or online therapy to meet their mental health needs. Online therapy enables individuals to meet with their therapist from nearly anywhere in the world, as long as they have a stable internet or phone connection.

The most popular form of telehealth therapy for mental health providers is online therapy through a secure video conferencing platform. Some therapists may also offer phone or text therapy. Online therapy has also been called teletherapy, distance counseling, telemental health, and internet therapy.


What is Telehealth

Telehealth therapy is the use of telecommunication technologies to provide mental health care services to patients remotely. It creates an avenue for clients to have the same experience they would have at their therapist’s office, all from the comfort of their home. It can be helpful for clients with transportation issues, clients with physical limitations, clients who live in remote settings and numerous other scenarios. With telehealth therapy, clients have the flexibility to attend sessions from the place they feel most comfortable.

How does telehealth therapy work?

Telehealth therapy works by establishing a medium of communication between patients and their therapists who are not in the same physical location. When a client has a session scheduled with their therapist, they decide together which telehealth therapy channel to use to host their sessions. The communication mode can either be video or audio-based, and is mutually agreed upon by the patient and therapist to have what works best for them. In a video-based model, a video chat platform is made available for clients to connect with their therapists. Group therapy sessions are also possible with additional coordination.

Is Telehealth Therapy Effective?

David Mohr, PhD, director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, who has spent his career studying telepsychology and digital mental health, says:

“What we’ve seen is that telehealth is essentially just as effective as face-to-face psychotherapy—and retention rates are higher.”

As telehealth therapy becomes more widely accepted, practitioners are now facing decisions about which tele­conferencing platform to use, how to accommodate clients with older devices and unreliable internet connections, how to minimize security risks, and how to supervise trainees and interns remotely. (From APA article “How Well is Telepsychology Working?”)


Tips for Therapists Providing Telehealth Therapy

Use a HIPAA compliant telehealth platform for online telehealth therapy.

Not all online telehealth therapy platforms are private. If a clinician uses a system that isn’t encrypted to be HIPAA compliant, it might be possible for people to access parts of their sessions, notes, and records. It is very important to research HIPAA compliant telehealth requirements before using an online therapy platform.

Make sure both therapists and clients have reliable internet connections.

Before starting your telehealth therapy sessions, it is essential to test your internet speed. A disruption in the middle of a session can significantly impact the progress of your clients and disrupt the flow of the session. To ensure that your internet is operating optimally, consider conducting a few practice sessions with a friend. This will help you confirm that your internet connection is reliable and stable, allowing you to provide seamless and uninterrupted therapy sessions.

Confirm that the clinician's location is private before conducting telehealth therapy sessions.

It’s important to be able to focus fully on your clients without being interrupted. Interruptions can be very distracting to both therapists and clients, and can interfere with the level of care that clients receive. Interruptions can also potentially breach confidentiality if others overhear your session.

Pause computer and phone notifications during telehealth therapy sessions.

Notifications can be distracting, especially if they alert you to stressful topics like personal, work, or news updates. Pause notifications on computers and phones during telehealth sessions. This will allow clinicians to focus fully on the client and be able to do their very best work.

Think about eye contact.

At first, the experience of connecting virtually may have felt unfamiliar and uncomfortable, but over time, it has become increasingly natural for individuals. Clients can now feel a strong sense of connection and engagement with their therapists as they perceive the therapists looking directly at them through the camera lens.

Find a comfortable position before starting telehealth therapy sessions.

During online counseling sessions, therapists spend a significant amount of time staring at their computer screens. It is crucial for them to prioritize their physical comfort in order to provide the best care possible. Additionally, therapists should consider the distance between themselves and the camera to establish a strong connection with their clients. Sitting too close can feel awkward, while sitting too far can create a sense of distance. Before beginning a session, therapists should take a moment to ensure that these variables are controlled as much as possible.

Telehealth Therapy + Exym Mental Health EHR Software

Telehealth therapy is here to stay, and has become a permanent part of the mental health world. If you’re a clinician looking for a mental health EHR software with secure, HIPAA compliant telehealth therapy capabilities, please consider Exym's telehealth module, Exym Engage. You can also visit our Clinical Page to learn more about how Exym EHR software helps clinical staff create better outcomes for their clients.

Exym is a comprehensive EHR software solution designed specifically for behavioral health agencies. Trusted for 20+ years, our intuitive and customizable software empowers providers to improve client outcomes, manage revenue cycles, and increase agency efficiency. Exym allows you to spend more time on what matters most- the clients in your care.

Jessica Carey
Post by Jessica Carey
May 30, 2023