At a time like this, it helps to know teletherapy really works

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At this time of social distancing, I feel lucky to have technology that keeps us connected to friends, family and even to helping professionals. Because now, more than ever, the internet has the potential to improve access to the help we need and want.

This is a difficult time for everyone: The stress of now and ambiguity of what is to come are difficult to manage. We are spending a lot of time in confined spaces with family. There is only so much Netflix we can watch.

And for those who struggled before the arrival of COVID-19, the added stress may be making your depression … anxiety … eating problems even worse.

Though counterintuitive, if you haven’t sought treatment before, this might be the time for you to tackle some of those problems. It might actually be a moment when you can prioritize yourself. It might be a time that you need to prioritize yourself.

The good news is that teletherapy, defined as the provision of psychological services using telecommunication technologies, seems to have very similar outcomes to in-person therapy.

Different ways to use teletherapy

Whether or not we are sheltering in place, there are many efficient ways to use teletherapy.

The right therapy starts with an assessment of the problem; if you are not clear about the problem, how can you be clear about the treatment? Teletherapy can be used to get an evaluation/assessment with an expert to determine the help you need.

These expert assessments might also be useful if you are currently in therapy and feel that you are not feeling better quickly enough. Consider scheduling an expert evaluation or second opinion of your current treatment.

Teletherapy can be used as a guided form of self help. In this model, you can have short (20-30 minutes) weekly teletherapy visits, and use an evidence-based lesson/workbook to do most of the work in between. This model can be cost-effective, and is great for tackling problems like mild depression, anxiety or binge eating. There is research that backs up its effectiveness.

You can also use teletherapy to receive more traditional therapy sessions as you would have done in a therapist’s office. Again, there is research to support that it works.

My particular area of expertise is in eating disorders and the use of DBT. Given that, there are two pieces of information related to teletherapy that I want to share.

Eating disorders and Teletherapy

I was recently a part of an international group that came together to talk about unique needs of patients with eating disorders in teletherapy. Here’s a video of that discussion:

Telehealth Considerations for ED Mental Health Providers During COVID 19

And here’s a short document that addresses about how DBT might work while using teletherapy.

At CEBTOhio, we offer teletherapy for individuals who are seeking expert care but need the flexibility it offers. We hope you are staying safe and healthy. And if you’re struggling, we’re here to help.

Photo by Cody Doherty on Unsplash


About the Author:

Dr. Lucene Wisniewski is an internationally recognized leader in eating disorder treatment and Dialectical Behavior Therapy, with more than 25 years of clinical and training experience. She may be reached for consultation through the "contact" page on this website.