Teen Mental Health Awareness Day - Using Technology to Make Therapy More Accessible

Written By:

Kenzie Shelstad

Publishing Date: 

March 26, 2022

The pandemic has altered society in various ways over the past two years. Technology allowed society to go remote during the pandemic, for work, school, and even therapy. Now, there are dozens of websites that promote remote therapy, whether it’s face-to-face over Zoom, or through an instant messaging app. Through various studies, remote therapy seems to be as beneficial to patients as in person therapy. The flexibility of remote therapy allows many people access to therapy and the ability to improve their overall mental health. For teenagers, remote therapy improves their accessibility immensely. Teenagers can fit therapy into their busy schedules, and no longer need someone to take them to therapy appointments. Rather, they can join straight from their home. Additionally, the various instant messaging apps for therapy give teenagers the ability to access a licensed therapist even when they’re too busy, or not comfortable enough, to go to therapy. Another barrier for teenagers is money. Often, teenagers cannot afford therapy on their own, or sometimes even with parental assistance. In these circumstances, the affordability of remote therapy offers teenagers the chance to understand their mental health without the burden of a high price tag. Remote therapy also improves the likelihood of teenagers reaching out to arrange a therapy appointment if they’re nervous or embarrassed. Many therapists allow their patients to use a “nickname” when signing up for an appointment, and the remote aspect of therapy erases the possibility of running into someone they know in the waiting room. Remote therapy also increases the chances that a teenager with anxiety, especially social anxiety, will reach out for an appointment. However, remote therapy does have its drawbacks. Many therapists find it difficult to truly connect with patients through remote therapy, especially when using instant messaging. It also increases the risk of danger with their patients, as it’s more difficult to determine if the patient is a risk to themselves or others through instant messaging. Remote therapy also impairs the therapist's ability to read the patient's body language. Important cues that may have aided in diagnosing a patient could be cut by the camera, or nonexistent if using instant messaging. Another problem with remote therapy is safety; therapists don’t always know the location of their patients. While many therapists start off their sessions with a location check, the patient doesn’t have to prove their location. However, with the increased accessibility that remote therapy brings, offering these services even after the pandemic ends will improve the amount of people that seek mental health help, especially for those who have barriers, such as location and cost. For teenagers specifically, remote therapy and instant messaging may prove to reach more people than in person therapy could have. ​

Sources

Novotney, Amy. “A Growing Wage of Online Therapy”, APA. 2017 February. Accessed

2022 February. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/02/online-therapy