First, statistically, my clients are now far more numerous in person than via telehealth. In 2020-21 the opposite was true, when in-person slowed down to a trickle and then to none. Since then, however, in-person has been steadily building back and now I see far more clients in my office than I do on video. Clients were given a choice on my appointment request form, and they voted with their feet in favor of in-person.
Second, I have been reflecting on the benefits of one vs. the other, and then on the clinical effectiveness of each. The benefits of telehealth are obvious, and I won’t spend much time on them (rural clients, long commutes, lack of private or public conveyance, gasoline cost, time saved, etc.), as they go both ways to make a video session comfortable and convenient for the client and for the therapist.
In terms of clinical effectiveness, though, I have some thoughts. Do client and therapist feel more engaged with each other in person, the same, or less? Is a therapist-client relationship of trust more easily created in person or via telehealth? It seems to me that telehealth is more transactional (like telemedicine, but MDs rarely create a relationship with their patients even in person, because they don’t have to—even though it could positively affect health outcomes. It is a well-known fact that med schools scarcely train their students to develop any such relationship with their patients). I also believe that telehealth is more impersonal and more superficial. This is the way I personally feel, which may of course not be the case entirely for many clients and other therapists.
So why would I prefer in person vs. telehealth? I think that is because developing an in-person therapeutic relationship with my client is more effective, since therapeutic engagement with another human being is more personal and deeper than just watching someone on a screen. On the other hand, both therapist and client may prefer working in comfort. There must be a reason beyond COVID as to the explosion of mental telehealth even after the pandemic is over. But I think there must be an equally as valid or stronger reason why, when given a choice, clients continue to choose in person in appreciable numbers.
Give me a call at (678) 554-5632 to set an appointment (either at my office location or online via telehealth) or send me the appointment request form, which you will find here on my website. I look forward to working with you!
So, I think this. I accept telehealth as a client choice, and honor whatever client need is being meet by offering this service. However, telehealth clients need to be told about clinical effectiveness and the value of developing an in-person therapeutic relationship, so that they can make a more intelligent choice. Personally, since I have the means and wherewithal to offer in person, I’m happy to do so—as opposed to catering to telehealth clients only out of convenience and personal comfort.
Whatever you prefer, just let me know. The choice is yours.