Get off the Couch

Getting the most out of your digital therapy.


Off the couch – the digital age of therapy.






Sigmund Freud had a couch and in the “classic” psychodynamic approach would invite patients to lie down on his couch and share their deepest thoughts. On this couch people would explore their wildest fantasies, uncover traumas they were shut off from or simply change daily core beliefs.

Fast forward to 2019-2020. A therapy as we know it takes a drastic turn, due to COVID-19 and continues to become more digital. And in this radical transition comes a spectrum of new benefits and challenges in the therapeutic process.

Normally, therapists, doctors and other health care providers care for their patients in person at a facility such as a medical office, clinic, or hospital. And thanks to computers, smartphones, and other new digital technologies, medical professionals can now diagnose, treat, and oversee their patients' care virtually.

Telehealth is described as the delivery of health care services at a distance through the use of technology. It can include everything from conducting medical visits over the computer, to monitoring patients' vital signs remotely. It has now made therapy move from the couch to the comfort of the clients home.


Its definition is broader than that of telemedicine, which only includes the remote delivery of health care. Breaking down the difference is for another time and from another professional.

There are countless benefits to both in-person and digital therapy.

What are the benefits and recently the most frequently asked question: Is it sticking around?


Benefits of Digital Therapy


Convenience


When I lived in New York City clients frequently spent more time commuting for the therapy session then they spent in the therapy session.


Digital therapy offers the convenience of seeing a therapist from the comfort of home without worrying about commuting or finding a parking space. There’s also less of a chance of therapy interfering with school or work if sessions are scheduled when it works best for clients. Those who live in remote areas with fewer mental health services can have therapy at their fingertips.


Digital Therapy Tip:

· Find a safe environment free from distractions. Make your own therapy space. Just because it’s convenient doesn’t mean it’s not important to be distraction free.


Access


Furthermore, digital sessions are great for people who are not comfortable leaving home or afraid of being seen at their therapist’s office. Digital treatment “safeguards” clients living with social anxiety, addictions that carry personal sigma. Or for clients with limiting physical conditions, a new baby at home or an illness that makes accessing a real-life appointment difficult or even impossible, digital therapy is a great alternative.


Digital Therapy Tip:

· Digital therapy opens up a larger pool of therapists that are broader than the local providers. Giving the client a chance to get specialized treatment from experts, or safety with a clinician that they have a relationship with.


Consistent


Zoom, FaceTime and Skype allow for therapy sessions from anywhere in the world. Clients don’t have to give up appointments while they’re on vacation or business trips, or the new digital nomad you became during COVID-19. And consistency is very important for the therapeutic process.


Recent research also suggests that canceled appointments are drastically lower too.


Digital Therapy Tip:

· Schedule, Schedule, Schedule. Find your personal rhythm that feels right to you. Talk with your provider and challenge yourself to get comfortable in finding your therapeutic pattern.


Safety


One of the most startling realizations that I have had providing digital therapy has come in the form of safety. My clients have expressed a deeper level of security when they are engaged in therapy at their home.


Digital Therapy Tip:

· Where you consider doing your session is important. The knee jerk thought is, “ what difference does it make?” The answer a big difference, find a place that offers you a sense of calm, peace and relaxation. Don’t gloss over your environmental setting. Put a candle out, light incense, find a comforting beverage (not alcohol).


Professional Decision


Prior to COVID-19 it became an emotional and physical dance to find a safe therapeutic environment to provide my clients. Then came COVID-19 and I turned my therapeutic services 100% digital. I have since continued to offer my services digitally and in this route I have witnessed just as much profound transformation and healing. At this point I have professionally decided to continue the therapeutic process online. The choice is due to many different professional, personal and societal circumstances.


The Invitation


Please open yourself up to what feels right to you. Consider some of the following questions to explore when making your choice both to seek therapy and be comfortable in the therapeutic process.


· What do you need to feel comfortable with your therapist?

· How do you create safety when talking about difficult subject matters?

· When is the best time of day for you to do therapy, or have a conscious conversation about your life?


Schedule an appointment your convenience without leaving your home.


Dr. Ryan Westrum is a clinical psychologist and licensed marriage and family therapist who specialize in addiction, psychedelic integration, and everything non-ordinary. Please reach out for information about his practice at healingsoulsllc.com or email him at ryanwestrum@gmail.com


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