Moving From In-Home Counseling To Online Therapy For Your Family

Therapy sessions function differently for everyone. It used to be that the ideal scenario for individuals undergoing therapy is through home visits, wherein clients can avoid the public eye and enjoy the comfort of their own houses as they receive counseling. But as technology catches up with the times, experts are acknowledging the different ways that mental health services can be delivered.

What are the benefits of in-home counseling? While outpatient therapy is the most common mode of treatment for people mildly suffering from mental health disorders, intensive in-home counseling is also an alternative usually provided to at-risk children and youth. The purpose of such a comprehensive service is to facilitate the use of community resources within the family while maintaining the home environment.

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“Family therapy perceives an individual’s symptoms as occurring in the larger context of the family,” says Dr. Michael Herkov, Ph.D., an Associate Professor in Psychiatry at the University of Florida College of Medicine.

Dr. Herkov adds, “For instance, a depressive adolescent’s symptoms might be connected to her parents’ marital issues. But if a therapist only consulted the depressed teen, then they might not have shared the greater family problems that could have been a vital part of their depression.”

How To Find The Right In-Home Counselor

The job of a mental health counselor is to help people manage their mental and emotional disorders. While a handful of different professions offer therapy, it is best to adhere to licensed professionals with advanced degrees in psychology, psychiatry, social work, and counseling. Here are some hints to consider when finding the right counselor:

  1. Call or email the therapist and inquire about their practice. The counselor must be accessible and up-to-date with technology and critical scientific knowledge related to the symptoms.
  2. Search online for reviews and referrals. It wouldn’t hurt to ask in mental health forums and groups about their experiences with the particular therapist. But be wary of fake testimonials by anonymous accounts that sound too good to be true.
  3. Find out how much it costs and how long each session is likely to take. Preparing the logistics involved in making such a huge decision is key to developing a transparent relationship and good rapport with the counselor.
  4. List all expectations. While the chances of one therapist ticking all the boxes on the list of desired attributes are dismal, it’s still helpful to figure out their priorities when addressing mental health symptoms.

Marriage and family therapists specialize in working with children and couples to resolve conflicts and overcome behavioral challenges typically perceived as relevant to the home. Family therapy often touches on improving parenting and communication skills, which allows therapists to observe interactions between family members naturally. Such approaches help identify what kind of treatment approach is suitable.

In the United States, more than 6 million people see a family therapist every year, according to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). Furthermore, a 2013 study showed that 57 percent of families engaged in online therapy were successful compared to 42 percent of those who used traditional face-to-face counseling. Is it possible to transition from a home-based therapy to a virtual approach?

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History Of Online Therapy

Since the 2000s, online therapy services have grown popular and widespread, even though it received some backlash due to its unverified business model eliminating doctor-presided sessions a few years prior. Today, anyone can receive professional mental health services online in place of traditional face-to-face counseling.

Some people prefer it because it is accessible, more affordable, and just as effective. Online therapy focuses on emotional health and well-being. Indubitably, online counseling has both advantages and disadvantages from the lens of therapists and clients alike. Here are a few examples:

Advantages Of Online Counseling

    • Increased accessibility. Those people suffering from symptoms and are new to therapy can proceed to an online approach before they commit. Because of the internet, people from remote geographical locations can also experience the benefits of treatment without the necessary traveling. It also supports people who may have physical limitations and mobility weaknesses.
    • Reduce stigma. Therapy helps to treat symptoms related to social anxiety. People who find it hard to leave their homes due to fear of other people, or getting judged because of stigmatization, may find it more comfortable to conduct the session online.

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Disadvantages Of Online Counseling

  • Impersonal. Virtual connections cannot offer the human interaction that is crucial in the therapist’s office. Text-based communication is open to misinterpretation, especially if the foundations of the relationship are not firmly established. Hence, online counseling may reduce the sense of trust and commitment necessary when providing support.
  • Opportunity bias. Online counseling is available to those with internet access. Hence, therapists are limited to providing their services to those with resources and leaving out underserved populations that may need them.

Regardless of the situation, numerous studies have shown that online therapy can help support treatment plans, whether for an individual or a family unit.

For adult families, online counseling also helps when each member may be living in different states or countries, and therefore find it impossible to be in the same place. Fortunately, counselors have adapted their practices to accommodate such situations, holding people safe, albeit in a virtual space.