Remote Therapy vs. Office Therapy in Utah: What’s Best for Your Mental Health?

Remote Therapy vs. Office Therapy in Utah: What’s Best for Your Mental Health?

Also known as virtual therapy, e-therapy, or online therapy, remote therapy is becomingly increasingly popular and widely available. In addition to nationwide “e-therapy” companies, many therapists in Utah offer this type of therapy service to prospective clients. Starting with cost, there are number of reasons why people tend to seek out this type of therapy arrangement.

First and foremost, a lot of people want to know—all things being equal—is remote therapy just as good as a face-to-face office setting? So far, the research confirms that it’s better than nothing and very cost-efficient as well. There is also research to suggest that online therapy may be just as good as office therapy, but the jury is still out. In fact, this area of study is so new there’s still hot debate over how mental health researchers should design their experimental studies to compare effect sizes. Simply accounting for differences in audio/video quality and the reliability of Internet connections is problematic.

Remote therapy was already growing in popularity before 2020, but among the big changes this year has been increased use of hybrid solutions in which you work with a local therapist in Utah but also conduct sessions remotely as mutually agreed to. One of the big barriers to maintaining a mental health therapy schedule is the time commitment. But rather than use nationwide therapy services that are entirely online, you can get the best of both worlds.

Individual Factors in Choosing Remote Therapy

Even though everybody knows better, it’s still easy to think that our mental health is somehow separate from where we live and what financial resources we have at our disposal. Talking to a qualified therapist in an office setting might mean a drive of several hours for people in places like Snowville or Garrison or Blanding. Even people much closer to the I-5 corridor may have considerable challenges in commuting to an office location.

One way to think of the potential value of remote therapy is the client’s own attitude about the approach:

  • If an individual doubts that any therapy is worth the trouble, seeks out remote therapy because it’s easy, and then doesn’t take the process seriously, this is a largely self-defeating attitude. A therapist may try to overcome this initial resistance, but if it’s surmised that the online nature of the therapy is a barrier to improvement, you can expect the therapist to make a different recommendation.
  • People who live in distant rural areas or who otherwise have trouble accessing therapy services may be thrilled to discover they have some way to talk to a qualified mental health professional, be it on a short-term or ongoing basis. In fact, the relief and hope tends to produce its own short-term improvement to mental health, an improvement that ideally can be built upon during future sessions.

The irony is that many of the same people who are most likely to benefit from remote therapy services are less likely to have the hardware and broadband Internet connection necessary for the best virtual therapy settings. On the other hand, for some people, remote vs. office-based therapy is a false choice. Some therapists offer in-home therapy. Often, the availability of these services is based on individual circumstances and living within certain geographical boundaries.

Comfort-Level and Confidentiality

In terms of confidentiality, there are pros and cons to both types of therapy. By visiting an office, you do run at least some risk of someone seeing you go into the building. Yet, remote therapy creates an entirely different kind of risk. HIPAA laws require mental health professionals to take all reasonable and standard precautions in safeguarding their clients’ confidentiality. The thing is nobody really knows yet what this means for online security measures.

It’s safe to say that the vast majority of people have nothing to worry about when it comes to online therapy. So long as you take basic privacy precautions, the people and organizations with the technological sophistication to hack these types of video feeds are generally interested in things other than, say, a stranger’s marital strife. But if confidentiality—especially the content of what you have to say—is a top concern, this is something to think about.

Combining Remote and Office Therapy

Again, the best solution is often a combination or remote and in-office therapy. These arrangements may simply help manage the limited availability and travel schedules for either the therapist or the client. Some therapists also permit their clients to contact them during off-hours under certain circumstances. Remote therapy is filling this niche, too. Short impromptu online therapy may supplement a regular office therapy schedule. Though rare, some therapists may even use remote communications as an introduction to therapy for clients who have trouble leaving their home or engaging in basic social activities. The idea, then, is to graduate to in-office sessions and eventually greater exposure to social settings in general.

No matter what mode of therapy you think may be right for you, no matter what mental health challenge you’re facing, we encourage and commend you for reaching out to a mental health provider in Utah.

Marcus Pickett

Leave your message