In recent years, telehealth therapy has become a popular mental health care option for people to receive treatment from the comfort of their own homes. While it may seem unconventional, telehealth can be a great alternative for receiving outpatient care. Despite skyrocketing in popularity as a result of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, many questions about telehealth remain unanswered.

Sierra Vista Hospital is here to answer your questions about outpatient telehealth therapy. Learn more about what telehealth is, what its benefits are and what to do to arrive as prepared as possible for your session.

What Is Telehealth?

Telehealth, or remote therapy, enables people to receive outpatient care through technology like video calls. With online therapy, people can get the same level of support as they would in a therapist’s office, but through video chat. Telehealth services may be used for assessment, advice, education, intervention and monitoring. Anyone with a reliable internet connection and a device with a camera can access excellent mental health care from licensed therapists. But how does telehealth therapy work?

How does telehealth work?

Patients using telehealth services are matched with a mental health professional able to assist with their symptoms, concerns or questions. Together, the patient and mental health professional may work to determine a schedule and treatment modality that best fits the patient’s needs. Treatment can include individual therapy, group therapy or more.

At Sierra Vista Hospital, we provide two kinds of telehealth services:

  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

What Are the Benefits of Telehealth?

Convenience and accessibility

One of the main benefits of outpatient telehealth therapy is the convenience and accessibility it offers. With traditional therapy, people may have to travel to a therapist’s office, which can be difficult for those with busy schedules. Virtual counseling enables people to attend sessions from anywhere with an internet connection, making it easier to fit into their daily routine. This also makes therapy more accessible for those who live in rural areas or have limited access to mental health services.

Online counseling is also a great option for those who live with a disability. For example, someone with a mobility issue no longer has to worry about if or how they are going to be able to reach their mental health professional. Instead, they can access care on their own terms.

Comfort and privacy

For some people, the thought of attending therapy in-person can be intimidating or uncomfortable. Sometimes being in an unfamiliar environment, such as a therapist’s office or a mental health facility, can make it more difficult for us to open up. Outpatient telehealth therapy enables people to receive treatment from the comfort and security of their own homes. This, in turn, can help people feel more at ease and open to sharing their thoughts and feelings.

Additionally, virtual outpatient programs offer a level of privacy that may not be possible in a traditional therapy setting. This can be especially beneficial for people who are hesitant to seek therapy because of confidentiality concerns. For example, some people may not feel comfortable telling their loved ones they are seeking outpatient treatment. Maybe they are still processing their own emotions, or maybe they are unsure about how their loved ones will react. In such cases, telehealth services prove to be an invaluable resource and alternative.

Cost effectiveness

Telehealth therapy can also be a more cost-effective option for people seeking mental health treatment. With traditional therapy, people may have to account for other costs such as transportation costs, time off from work and the cost of in-person programs. Telehealth therapy eliminates these expenses, making it a more affordable option for many people. Additionally, some insurance companies now cover telehealth therapy, making it even more accessible and cost effective.

Variety of therapy options

Just like traditional therapy, telehealth therapy offers a variety of treatment options to meet the needs of different people. This includes talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and even art therapy. In fact, there are many telehealth therapy activities for patients that can be used during virtual sessions. This enables therapists to tailor their approach to each person’s needs and preferences.

Continuity of care

Another benefit of outpatient telehealth therapy is the continuity of care it offers. This means that people can continue their therapy sessions even if they are unable to physically go to in-person appointments. This can be especially beneficial for those who travel frequently, have unpredictable schedules or have mobility issues. It also enables people to continue their therapy during times of crisis or when they are unable to leave their homes.

How to Prepare for a Telehealth Therapy Session

As we have explored, telehealth treatment is different from traditional therapy. Because of this, coming prepared is important to make the best out of your therapy session. Sierra Vista Hospital recommends keeping the following things in mind:

  • Choose a quiet and private location: Find a quiet and private space where you can have your therapy session without interruptions. This will help you focus and maintain confidentiality.
  • Ensure a stable internet connection: Make sure your internet connection is stable before your telehealth session. You don’t want to experience technical difficulties during your session.
  • Test your equipment: Test your computer, webcam, microphone and any other equipment you will be using for the session. Make sure your equipment is working ahead of the session. This enables you to make the most out of your virtual sessions.
  • Install the necessary software: If your therapist is using a specific telehealth platform, make sure you have it installed on your device beforehand. Familiarize yourself with the platform and its features. This can help ensure smooth sessions.
  • Prepare any relevant materials: If you have any materials or documents you want to discuss during the session, have them ready and easily accessible.
  • Set goals for the session: Think about what you want to achieve or discuss during the session. Setting goals can help you make the most of your therapy session. Sometimes, it can help to come prepared with a notepad of questions or objectives you would like to talk about with your provider.
  • Be mentally prepared: Take some time to mentally prepare yourself for the therapy session. Reflect on your thoughts and feelings, and try to be open and honest during the session. Just like any therapy setting, outpatient telehealth therapy sessions can be emotionally taxing.

By following these steps, you can set yourself up for a successful telehealth therapy session.

Help Is Available at Sierra Vista Hospital

Overall, the mental health outpatient therapy landscape is changing. Outpatient telehealth therapy offers many benefits that make it a valuable option for people seeking mental health treatment. From convenience and accessibility to cost-effectiveness and a variety of therapy options, telehealth therapy is a valuable tool for improving mental health and well-being. As telehealth becomes more popular, understanding its potential means opening ourselves up to embracing new forms of care.

Sierra Vista Hospital, in Sacramento, California, is here for your mental health needs. Our telehealth services enable you to receive the care you need when you need it, no matter where you are.

Learn more about how we can help by giving us a call at 916-288-0300 or get in contact with us by using this form.

If you are in crisis and need assistance immediately, call 911 or 988 for the Suicide Prevention Hotline or go to the nearest emergency room.