The lockdowns across Australia have forced all of us to change the way we interact with each other. Working from home has now been normalised in our society, which for a lot of us has been a welcome change.
Therapy services have also been forced to adapt, with online therapy seeing a massive boom across Australia, even as lockdowns are being lifted and things return back to normal we've seen the online therapy trend steadily rise.
This trend has seen new services pop up to try cater for the increased demand, so it can be daunting to know which services to use and how to actually approach the process. If you've never been in therapy before then this new world of online therapy can be even more unnerving.
Luckily we are here to help. This guide to online therapy for Australians will take you through the how, what, why, where and when of online therapy in Australia.
Most of us do some form of exercise to strengthen our bodies and keep our physical being in a good condition, but we often neglect to do the same for our minds. Therapy is an amazing tool that help keep our minds healthy and happy. It's not just for people with a 'mental illness', but it can be beneficial to all of us and at any stage in our life.
We all have thoughts that we struggle with, behaviours that we wish to change, or relationships that need healing and having the support and guidance from a trained therapist will help you more than you could alone.
Luckily with the rise of online therapy it’s never been easier.
Telehealth - Telehealth is a term that’s used a lot nowadays and refers to any type of health service provided over a video call (using apps like Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, etc).
Therapy over video is the preferred method of connecting with your therapist as it provides a level of connection similar to in-person sessions.
Phone - For many, being on a video call is unnatural and unsettling, so you may also opt for speaking on the phone (this can be done via the video call, but just turn your camera off).
Text messaging - Text messaging is ideal for people with anxiety, as it allows for an open and honest conversation with your therapist without the added pressure and worry of a call. It gives you time to think of your response and not feel flustered.
Many services allow you to incorporate video, audio and text, so you can use the most appropriate one for you.
It can feel a bit like dating. You need to find someone who you are comfortable with and who you respect as they will be providing you with guidance.
If you want to claim the cost back on Medicare or your health fund then make sure you find a therapist that is a provider of your health fund. Only certain therapists (psychologists and some social workers) can be claimed back via Medicare. Check out our blog post on the different types of therapists.
It's also important to check their qualifications and ensure they are registered with a governing body like the ACA.
Some of the latest research has shown that online therapy yields similar results to in-person therapy. There are also many other benefits such as removing the need to travel, having a wider selection of therapist and not just those in your immediate area, and being able to connect with your therapist from anywhere.
Many people see online therapy as far superior to in-person, check out this article to see why - 8 Reason Online Counselling is Better Than Face to Face.
Once you’ve found the right therapist you can contact them to find out how best to book a Telehealth appointment, you should also ensure that they provide this service, as some therapists only offer in-person appointments.
You also need to check that they are in the same timezone as yourself and factor this in to your discussions about appointment times.
Many therapists opt to use Zoom, but the free version is not encrypted so can’t be guaranteed to be secure. This is why it’s preferred to use other video tools like Coviu, Doxy or Talked.
The Talked platform allows you to connect to your video call directly from your web browser, you don’t need to install any additional apps, just ensure that your web browser is up to date. When using your mobile phone to connect it is often best to download an app, because video calls through the web browser on a mobile can be problematic.
First, make sure that you have a good connection to the internet, stop Netflix or any other apps that may slow down your speed. Secondly, ensure that your mic and camera are working before the session.
Once you've got the tech down, it's important to find a quiet spot that you know people wont be listening in, to help ensure you can fully open up and be honest.
Read more telehealth and online therapy tips.
Therapy often take a few sessions before you start to relax with your therapist. If after those sessions it still doesn't feel right, then don't be afraid to switch providers - they wont be offended.
To save yourself time and money it can be worth booking a free consultation to ensure the therapist is right for you. During this consultation the therapist will explain how they can help and you can decide whether to book a full session with them or try another therapist.
This is something that you and your therapist can decide, but it's common to meet once a week or once a fortnight. Keeping the momentum going is important, so having long breaks in-between sessions can be detrimental to the progress.
Often people talk about HIPAA compliant, which is an American standard. Here in Australia we have the Australian Privacy Principles, which outline best practices that websites and apps should follow.
The Talked telehealth platform is designed to meet the Australia Privacy Principles.
Online therapy is here to stay and for good reason - there just aren't that many down sides.
If you do feel that you are the type of person that really needs to see someone in-person, then by all means you should book an in-person session, but it may be worth giving online therapy a go once to see how it can really help improve your overall wellbeing.