Telemental Health is part of ‘Telemedicine.’ Telemedicine is a word you hear more often, or even for the first time, since the advent of COVID-19. It refers to the delivery of health care by means of technology, rather than a 1-1 physical interaction. ‘Health’ refers to disease and injuries, physical and mental. And ‘Health care’ includes diagnosis, treatment, prevention, research, evaluation and the education of health care workers.

‘Telemental Health’ is therefore, part of Telemedicine. Furthermore, Telemental Health is also ‘Distance Therapy or Counselling,’ ‘Remote Therapy or Counselling,’  ‘On-line Therapy or Counselling’ and similar. Therapists deliver Telemental Health services in various formats.

Synchronous Telemental Health

‘Synchronous’ communication is communication in ‘real-time’ – that is, you and your therapist connect directly and talk to each other, such as over Skype, Zoom or telephone. Another example is text messaging when you each respond to each other immediately. This is also synchronous communication.

Asynchronous Telemental Health

‘Asynchronous’ communication is when the service is delivered at a different time to when it is received. In this case, you and your service provider are not on-line at the same time. Emails, pre-recorded messages or other data and text messages that are not answered immediately are examples. Blogs, various social media platforms and downloaded self-help courses are also examples of asynchronous communication.

Up to now, most people have preferred real-time face-to-face interaction when working with a mental health therapist. Attending appointments in person has been the norm. Certainly, distance therapy has taken place, and formed a valuable part of the mental health landscape. But it was usually a secondary option when nothing else was available, due to either remoteness, lack of services, disability or age, illness, travel difficulties or similar.

Corona Virus and Telemental Health

However, the Corona Virus has posed challenges that have forced the landscape to change. Because we had no option, distance therapy has lately been the only way to deliver mental health services. And while this throws up new and unexpected challenges for therapists, it also opens up new possibilities. Creativity, innovation and advanced technologies have increased the scope and quality of what therapists can offer.

Revised protocols, updated security requirements, ethical guidelines, end-to-end encryption and therapist education make the delivery of Telemental Health services safer and more accessible to everyone during the current crisis. Looking ahead, distance therapy may not just be the choice of those who cannot attend in person, but also of those who find the new format more convenient and compatible with their lifestyle and time constraints. Why not give it a try? The ‘Counselling On-line Booking Calendar’ makes the process easy and seamless. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Between Stimulus and Response, man has the freedom to choose (Stephen Covey)