“2020 is the time I will finally do it- I will finally travel the world!”
As the New Year’s Eve fireworks exploded in Frankie’s ears, she could feel the shift of new beginnings. While excitement stirred in her soul, she recognized the challenging aspects of long-term travel. It would be a test of balance: adding new, beautiful elements to life, while losing the comforts of stable routine. During Frankie’s reflections, one loss worried her more than the others- her consistent therapy appointments. Prioritizing both travel and mental health seemed an overwhelming task, especially from an unfamiliar county. Like many others, therapy had always been a safe haven for Frankie, so she was apprehensive about the daunting life changes without this stable support.
Frankie and I met in Indonesia, and instantly clicked over our nearly identical stories about travel, mental health struggles, and past history. Her fears, uncertainties, and anxieties about coping while abroad were mirrored within myself; they are especially relatable to young travelers with a history of mental health treatment. During one of our evening chats, Frankie expressed her concerns about traveling without the support of her therapist. To her surprise, I offered a solution: virtual therapy. Virtual therapy, distance therapy, tele therapy, however you choose to call it, are online therapy sessions that occur between provider and client, modeling those interactions shared in person. Frankie’s relief was tangible; now, she could eliminate the compromise between following her heart and risking her mental health. Frankie had a simple conversation with her provider, and the option of virtual therapy was at her fingertips – quite literally! So, when traveling complications came up for Frankie- language barriers, foreign maps, thoughts of illness- the instant connection of tele therapy brought the encouragement and relief she needed to continue a healthy mindset. With the evolution of technology, travel, and access to resources, online therapy is changing the face of mental health. It sure did for Frankie!
Even with its increasing prevalence, the thought of visiting a therapist over a computer screen may seem a bit foreign. The initial transition can feel strange, but rest assured- healing and change are congruent whether therapy takes place virtually or in-person. There are countless testimonies outlining the benefits of online counseling- Frankie’s included. Still skeptical? See this list of virtual therapy benefits:
-Safety: During the current fight against COVID-19, health is the top priority. During self-isolation times, access to therapy is even more crucial than before. Speaking to your therapist virtually allows you to continue your mental health progression from the security of home.
-Rural Access: Distance therapy allows those living in isolated areas to access mental health assistance without driving hours and drastically shifting their calendars.
-Flexibility: Whether you’re a single parent, or an adamant businessperson, schedules can be incredibly busy. With tele therapy, appointments can be scheduled at your ideal time (even during your child’s naptime or your brief lunchbreak!)
-Vulnerability: Home is where the heart is! Humans generally feel most comfortable in their own space. Because these ‘comfort zones’ create feelings of security and stability, inclinations to share your deepest emotions increase during your tele therapy sessions. Vulnerability is beneficial for the therapeutic relationship and accelerates the healing process.
-Accessibility: Physical limitations or injuries can inhibit convenient transport to therapy offices. Online counseling eliminates the added pressure of travel; therefore, it allows growth to occur from the comfort and safety of home, regardless of physical mobility or limitation.
-Waiting Room Dilemma: For some, the waiting room causes discomfort, shame, and anxiety. Virtual therapy eliminates this pressure and encourages new patients to access care by minimizing discomfort and fear of social stigma.
-Confidentiality: Strict HIPPA compliancy laws and regulations apply to online therapy; the same security procedures enforced at your therapy office will continue in all tele-sessions. You are free to express your thoughts and feelings openly, knowing your information will be kept completely safe, secure, and private.
-Decreased Expenses: When eliminating the cost of transportation, distance counseling can actually save you money!
-Time Saver: With less time spent commuting to and from therapy offices, valuable hours are added to your day. We could all use a few extra moments of relaxation!
It is clear virtual therapy holds specific, unique benefits. It is important to review these facts and evaluate whether distance therapy is appropriate for your needs and lifestyle.
Whatever cards you have been dealt in this life, surely we can agree on one thing- life is complicated. Trauma is relentless, feelings are all-encompassing, and situations feel inescapable. It is important to seek professional help when these feelings emerge. Luckily, with increasing access to mental health services, more and more people are acknowledging their need for effective coping mechanisms and curative engagements. Distance therapy does just that- it enhances the spread of peace, love, and restoration to those previously limited to its benefits. Even in a world that harbors so much pain, there is an influx of light and healing to be found. Whether you’re like Frankie, and seeking services from the other side of the world, or prefer to process experiences from the safety of your home, virtual therapy profits all. Frankie had a breakthrough at the dawn of 2020 and was supported throughout her journey with teletherapy. There’s a breakthrough waiting for you too!