Traditionally, a psychotherapist secured an office, furnished it with a couch, desk, chair, telephone, flora, wall art, hung his shingle outside the door, and opened for business. Clients met with him face-to-face, established rapport, and explored psychological issues, while in the same room. That has been the standard practice in our profession.
Time and technology has changed everything. While we think technology will propel us into the future it has actually taken me back to the past when doctors made home visits. With a mouse click a client can meet privately with me in a secure virtual office online. Clients can discuss their concerns in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. It’s unnecessary to add additional time to their day driving through traffic, looking for parking, and feeding meters. The risk of getting mugged traveling to or from their therapist’s office at night while walking to their car or the nearest transit stop has been eliminated. Online sessions allow therapist to provide services to clients who, due to physical limitations, mild illnesses, or car problems, might find it difficult to visit an office.
I have a client with a two-hour commute one way to work. Add a conventional therapy session and it’s at least another hour added to his commute. A few weeks ago, in the Bay Area, on the same day, BART halted because a dog wandered onto the tracks. Someone fired shots on the 880 freeway and the Highway Patrol blocked traffic for hours during their investigation. Two Muni buses collided in San Francisco and snarled traffic. The Bay Area commute was a mess. Occurrences like those are common. Bay Area traffic is a nightmare. Anyone living in urban areas must contend with additional stress.
I have another client, a single woman nursing a baby. Conventional therapy for her means arranging childcare. It’s very convenient and stress-relieving for her to attend online sessions with her child. She is less distracted by thoughts about her baby's welfare during sessions even though he fusses, feeds and demands attention. She manages all of that easily with greater peace of mind.
Historically, doctors would visit patients at their homes. Home visits allowed doctors to become better acquainted with patients, observe their lifestyles, and form stronger relationships. Home visits helped doctors build trust with patients. Online psychotherapy is a throwback to yesteryear.
As an online practitioner I consider it a privilege to offer my professional services to anyone in the state of California with a laptop, tablet, or cell phone and internet connection. Satisfying more of my clients needs by meeting online enables me to provide more value by conserving their time and reducing their stress level.
Online psychotherapy is relatively new, but just because something has yet to become popular doesn't mean it’s ineffective. The most important consideration is that your therapist is licensed, skilled, and available. If that's the case then online psychotherapy can work for you.