Teletherapy Vs. Telepsychiatry: Benefits, Similarities, & Differences

artwork depicting the differences between teletherapy and telepsychiatry
teletherapy Vs. Telepsychiatry

 

During the pandemic, the use of telehealth services surged by over 6000%. For some medical specialities such as therapy and psychiatry, virtual care has become very useful. Since therapy and psychiatry require no physical examinations, telehealth is uniquely adapted to be a very effective mode of care for these specialities . As the pandemic begins to slowly die down, many patients prefer to continue using telehealth for certain consultations, therapy and psychiatry being the most popular. According to McKinsley & Company, 46% of patients prefer using virtual care for non-essential consultations.[1] 

However, in order to understand the overall impact of telehealth in the mental health sector, it’s important to first understand the difference between teletherapy vs. telepsychiatry. Both specialities differ in how they use telehealth and the treatment modalities they employ. In this article, we will explore the  differences between teletherapy and telepsychiatry as well as their similarities. 

 

What is Teletherapy?

The definition of teletherapy is the use of telecommunications equipment such as smartphones, laptops, and other equipment to digitally communicate with a healthcare provider to receive therapy for mental health issues. The communication between patient and provider most often involves the use of HIPAA-compliant video conferencing platforms. However teletherapy can be conducted through a variety of other electronic modes of communication including: 

  • Teletherapy sessions over the phone. 
  • Group chat for group therapy sessions. 
  • Therapy conducted via email or instant messenger chat.

Practitioners of teletherapy include: 

  • Psychologists. 
  • Licensed family and marriage therapists.
  • Licensed social works. 
  • Licensed mental health counselors. 

Teletherapy offers a safe environment where patients can feel comfortable talking about personal issues with a licensed therapist who is trained to listen and provide guidance on how to develop healthy coping techniques for whatever issue the patient is experiencing.  In addition, most research suggests that teletherapy can be just as effective as in-person counseling.  

 

What is Telepsychiatry?  

A telepsychiatry session is conducted by a psychiatrist – who is a licensed doctor. Telepsychiatry treatment focuses on the treatment of mental health conditions through the prescription and management of medications. Telepsychiatry places a lesser emphasis on talk therapy.

 

The Benefits of Teletherapy and Telepsychiatry

Teletherapy and telepsychiatry both offer a variety of benefits over in-person consultations.  Some of the most notable benefits include: 

 

Convenient Access To Care 

Most people have work, families, and full schedules. It can be hard to find an appointment time that fits both the provider’s schedule as well as the patient’s schedule. With telehealth as an option, patients won’t need to put their life on hold to make an appointment. They can simply launch a video call from the comfort of home without having to make arrangements that will disrupt their work or family lives. 

More Cost-Effective

It’s true that in states with payment parity laws on the books, the cost of a virtual appointment is the same as an in-person consultation. However, patients will save a lot of money in the long run on transportation, child-care, and time off work. 

High Patient Engagement 

Patients may feel as if they are partners in their own care when using telehealth. They can access care right from their smartphone and receive test results and medical documents  to their email. Often, patients forget what their doctor said when they leave their office so having ready access to important medical documents can make patients feel more invested in their own care. 

 

Confidentiality 

There is often a stigma associated with mental health care which can make some patients feel hesitant about visiting a provider’s office. After all, there is a very real chance that they may bump into someone they know. With virtual care, patients are guaranteed the utmost discretion when seeking treatment. 

Health Concerns 

After COVID-19, some of us prefer to minimize time spent in public places. This is especially important for patients with compromised immune systems. For patients suffering from severe anxiety, telehealth may be the preferred avenue to seek treatment. 

 

Teletherapy and Telepsychiatry Similarities 

Teletherapy and Telepsychiatry are similar in some of the conditions they seek to treat. Although their methods differ, both disciplines treat certain mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. 

 

Another similarity they share is their effectiveness in treating mental health conditions. Since neither specialty requires a physical exam and the only necessary part of treatment is a face-to-face connection, psychiatry and therapy are uniquely adapted for telehealth. 

Teletherapy and Telepsychiatry Differences 

Teletherapy is focused on establishing a dialogue between patient and therapist in which the patient feels comfortable and safe to explore their personal issues. A teletherapy session provides you with the ability to talk about things that you wouldn’t normally talk about with anyone else.

 

Telepsychiatry is more like a doctor’s appointment. A more medical approach is used in the prescribed treatment modalities. You can expect to fill out a medical questionnaire and provide a list of mental health medications you have taken in the past. The sessions usually revolve around medication, what can be prescribed for your condition and follow-up visits usually focus on medication management.  

To decide whether teletherapy or telepsychiatry is best for you, it is best to consult with your primary care physician.

 

The Beam Solution 

If you are a licensed therapist or psychiatrist and you are considering implementing a telehealth program at your clinic, reach out to the leading telehealth provider today. At Beam, we have developed a telehealth platform uniquely designed for mental health specialists.Our platform requires no downloads and offers a suite of features uniquely designed for mental health specialists such as smart group therapy controls which allow you to control the volume and video of group participants. For more information and to schedule a free demo, click here

Sources: 

[1]https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/telehealth-a-quarter-trillion-dollar-post-covid-19-reality

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