Therapy has always been regarded as a method of allowing elderly people to cope with everyday stress. Therapy lets them know their problem, solve it, and get help. Traditional in-person therapy has been the primary therapeutic method used to help seniors. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of seniors seeking online therapy as a substitute increased. Online therapy, however, is more convenient. Yet, questions about whether it is as effective as traditional face-to-face therapy are a valid concern. As we journey together through this piece, we’ll explore the strengths and weaknesses of online therapy versus conventional face-to-face therapy. Our aim? To enable you with the knowledge to pick the theory of treatment which suits you the best. Believe us, it is one of the most private yet crucial decisions. So, let’s dive in.
Understanding Online Therapy
To begin, what exactly is online therapy? Teletherapy, or online therapy, is a virtual mental health consultation facilitated online. It helps when you can see your therapist from the comfort of your home or wherever you can access a computer or smartphone without additional costs. This type of therapy has seen tremendous popularity growth, especially during the pandemic, since it promises easy delivery of mental healthcare services. access mental health care.
Different Platforms for Online Therapy
Online therapy is available on several platforms, with varying approaches, costs, and services. Some platforms provide video conferencing, text messaging, and phone calls as possible communication paths with the therapist. Others offer group therapy or specialize in specific therapy, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or mindfulness-based approach.
How it Works
After finding a comfortable platform, the process is relatively straightforward. It would require a computer, tablet, or smartphone with a decent internet connection. You’ll also have to register and fill in basic information about yourself. Following that, you will be paired with a qualified therapist according to your needs. In the initial session, you will usually be able to formulate goals for your therapy and discuss any concerns or difficulties that may arise.
For your sessions, you will send messages to the therapist using any text chat, audio, or video modes available on the platform. While some platforms deliver round-the-clock access to therapists, there are predetermined sessions in others. It’s important to remember that online therapy may not be suitable for everyone, and traditional in-person therapy may be more effective in some cases. However, it can be a helpful alternative, especially for seniors with difficulty leaving their homes.
Understanding In-Person Therapy
In-person face-to-face or traditional therapy is a type of talk therapy where a patient meets with a licensed mental health professional in an office or clinical setting. In-person therapy allows for a deeper and more meaningful connection between the therapist and the patient, with the therapist being able to read non-verbal cues and body language. It is important to note that in-person therapy does require a patient’s physical presence and does not allow for remote or virtual sessions.
How Does In-Person Therapy Work
A typical in-person therapy session lasts 45-60 minutes. It begins with the therapist asking about your week and any issues you want to discuss. The therapist will listen to you and may ask questions to better understand your situation and your mental health needs. The session is designed to give you a safe and supportive environment to explore your emotions and thoughts without judgment.
The therapist may utilize different techniques to help with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues. The techniques used by the therapist will vary depending on the patient’s needs and the therapist’s training and expertise.
The duration of in-person therapy varies depending on the patient’s mental health needs and goals. Some patients may only need a few sessions to address a specific issue. In contrast, others may require more extended treatment for more complex issues. Generally, the therapist and patient will work together to determine the most beneficial treatment length and frequency.
Unpacking the Benefits
Convenient and Flexible
Seniors benefit from the convenience and accessibility of an online therapy session. One major positive aspect of this mode is that you can join the meeting anywhere and at any convenient time. Gone are the days when you needed to travel to a clinic or office and wait in waiting rooms. Online therapy sessions can be scheduled on your own time, so you can attend therapy sessions around your other commitments. This is particularly beneficial for seniors with mobility issues, who may struggle to travel to a physical location.
A Wide Range of Professionals to Choose From
With online therapy, you have many therapists to select from. If you want, you can visit the therapists’ profiles and study their credentials and qualifications before choosing the best one for you. Thus, you shall find a therapist that you feel most comfortable with.
Online therapy can be cost-effective. It eliminates the need to spend money on transportation, parking, and any other costs associated with traveling to a physical location for therapy.
One of the advantages of face-to-face treatment is the interpersonal relationship that is established between the therapist and the client. Compared to virtual sessions, having a session in a shared space with another human may help in comfort and safety. For senior citizens, who can also be facing loneliness and isolation, the physical presence of a therapist can make all the difference. Communication between therapist and client can also be assisted by observing body language and facial expressions.
As with any therapeutic session, the client can communicate with the therapist more effectively face-to-face. This is relevant because older adults might suffer from loss of hearing or eyesight and may find it hard to communicate well online. Face-to-face therapy also permits the elderly to notice nonverbal signs and tone of voice, among other elements of communication that may be overlooked during an online session.
For seniors who may have experienced trauma or abuse in their past, building trust with a therapist can be challenging. In-person therapy allows for face-to-face interactions that can help build trust between the client and therapist. This can be especially important for seniors who are dealing with issues such as anxiety or depression.
The Drawbacks – It’s Not All Rosy
Complete communication is another challenge that accompanies online therapy. In-depth interaction is common with conventional one-on-one therapy, but online therapy is mainly mediated through technology. This approach to therapy depends on the availability of the internet, the use of webcam software, and computerized devices that sometimes tend to not work correctly. The older adult population with hearing and vision problems may struggle to follow a remote discussion.
Privacy and Security
The therapist must use safe channels to prevent information leaks and preserve confidentiality. This includes having secure communication platforms and encryption protocols. However, despite the therapist’s efforts to comply with the privacy statutes, there are instances where the video streaming or video recording software may be compromised through cyberattacks or any other security breaches. This might result in valuable information being accessed by others.
Non-tech-savvy seniors may find it difficult to navigate the software or platform used in therapy. They may require support to organize the video conferences. This may also contribute to frustration and anxiety and, possibly, missed therapy sessions. Technical issues such as dropped calls, distorted pictures, or low-quality sound also interfere with the therapy process, making it less efficient and ineffective. However, face-to-face sessions are more convenient and have fewer technical challenges, as most advanced people are comfortable with traditional face-to-face communication.
Lack of Personal Connection
Online therapy may lack the personal touch and relationships seniors build with their therapists during in-person therapy. The therapist’s body language, facial expressions, and tone may not effectively transmit over video calls, leading to a loss of rapport and a reduction in trust. This lack of personal connection can hinder the senior’s ability to open up, express their emotions, and receive the help that they need to confront their mental health issues effectively.
Availability is one of the most critical disadvantages of traditional face-to-face therapy offered to seniors. Most elderly people are immobile or lack transport, making it impossible for them to come to attend regular therapy sessions.
Wait Times and Limited Availability
The wait times and limited appointment availability is another problem with in-person therapy for seniors. Depending on the location, the waiting period for specialized senior therapists may vary greatly, from a couple of weeks to several months. Additionally, in-person therapy is often only available during typical business hours, leaving those retired, with work or family obligations, or with mobility impairments unable to attend sessions. The scarcity of appointments and therapists might cause seniors to not receive the help they need.
Stigma and Discomfort
Lastly, senior citizens are less likely to go to therapy in person because of the negative image associated with and times of people with mental health disorders. Even though this stigma is fading, it can still be difficult for older adults who were brought up during another period of our history. Also, some elderly people may find it difficult to talk about their emotions, feelings, and personal issues regarding an unknown person face to face. This uneasiness may discourage older adults from seeking any assistance, even when they have mental health issues.
Conclusion: Choosing What’s Best for You
At the end of the day, which type of therapy you choose depends on your individual preferences, lifestyle, and resources. Online and in-person therapy have pros and cons, and you should weigh them based on what’s essential for you. For example, if convenience and flexibility are critical, online therapy might be the better option. If you want connection and in-person interaction, in-person therapy will be worth the extra effort and expense.
Total Life Counseling offers online therapy for seniors, providing a safe and secure platform to receive counseling from the comfort of your home. Our experienced therapists understand the unique challenges that seniors face. They are dedicated to helping you improve your mental health and overall well-being. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or learn more about our services! So, regardless of which format you choose, seeking therapy is always a step towards taking care of your mental health. Remember to prioritize self-care and reach out for help when you need it!