Why Online Therapy Can be a Great Fit for Teens
Pandemic 2020 (and now 2021). What a year, right? Not much has been normal. And even the normal things haven’t been all the way normal. Masks, social distancing, events cancelled, school cancelled, and on and on. Then, there’s been the social isolation. No matter how you’ve been treating the pandemic, you’re probably missing friends, family, and other people you’d normally be seeing. Just like some other things have changed forms, online therapy has become more and more useful to lots of people.
So how do you connect with people?
Luckily we have phones and internet and all that good stuff to help us connect with people no matter what.
But what is it like to do online therapy?
Can you connect with a therapist you haven’t met face-to-face before? Will it seem like you’re both so distant that you won’t feel comfortable with them? Are they going be sitting in a coffee shop or in their kitchen while their baby yells? (Hint: those things should not be happening). If you (or your teen or young adult) are struggling with anxiety, I’m sure all the questions about online therapy are coming up in a pretty extra sort of way.
Basically, is this all going to be terrible and horrible and leave you with no therapy while you’re living a covid life in a year that would have been difficult enough without a pandemic? You may be particularly stressed after having a bigger focus on world issues, watching a contentious election take place, seeing and/or experiencing lots of social unrest, and reading through a million memes that are telling you either that you suck or that everyone else sucks. (I feel like I need to talk to my therapist after just writing that paragraph. Yes, I have a therapist, and yes, we do online therapy.)
I had questions, too!
I had lots of my own questions a couple of years ago when I first started to offer therapy online. What’s this going to look like? Am I going to be awkward as hell as a therapist? Will people hate it? Luckily, it’s all been pretty smooth, and the transition to doing lots of online counseling was pretty simple last year when we were hit with covid.
To hopefully put your mind at ease, I’m going to tell you about some real-life reasons that online therapy seems to work well for lots of teens and young adults, and answer some common questions that I’ve gotten (and that I’ve had myself). Ready? Here we go.
Online Therapy Works. Here’s why!
- Your teen is probably already using plenty of video-call apps.
- How many times have you complained or rolled your eyes while they’ve FaceTimed someone? Do they have most or all of their high school or college classes via Zoom? They’re probably already used to it. That’s their generation. You can’t change the fact that they know technology better than Algebra, but you can absolutely use that face to your advantage. Have some of my teen clients had to walk their parents through using an online therapy app? Yes! It can be a good opportunity for a couple of seconds to let your kid be the expert and probably gives a little help to that relationship if there’s a need there.
- Therapists are used to it!
- Here’s a secret. I’m not 17 years old any more. So sometimes I’m like 5 minutes behind a high schooler on keeping up with the latest technology, social media, iphone features, etc. I’m lucky because I spend all day talking to teenagers and early 20-somethings, and I inadvertently learn so much from them, including aspects of technology. The more I learn, the more I use it to help all the people I work with. It’s a pay-it-forward kind of thing, I guess.
- It’s not weird.
- I really thought it would be at first. I’ve been doing telehealth (or online therapy, online counseling, video calls, or whatever you like to call it) for 2 years now. I’m comfortable with it. Like I said earlier, I had so many of the same questions, concerns, hesitancies, worries, and fears that a lot of people have when doing online counseling. BUT, the more I’ve done it, the more I’ve seen evidence that it’s not all that different from in-person therapy. I actually enjoy it, and I still definitely feel that therapeutic connection that we usually have in therapy.
- The therapy doesn’t change.
- The types of therapy that I do – Person-Centered, Brainspotting, CBT, Jungian principles – it all works online. It’s effective. I haven’t seen any evidence to the contrary, and for most of my actual clients, they all say it’s completely fine.
- It’s convenient.
- Ever have trouble getting to the actual therapist, so you just don’t go? Some logistics can be hard to work out. Like if you have an hour for an appointment, but you don’t have another hour to travel 30 minutes each way. It’s quick to pick up your phone and tap a button, then boom – you’re in your session. It can cut down the stress you get from having to hurry up to get ready and leave, and you don’t have to risk car trouble or traffic slowing you down.
- It may be hard for you to leave home.
- I work with anxiety. Sometimes the anxiety, panic attacks, or trauma effects make it really hard or even impossible for someone to leave home. That sucks, but it shouldn’t keep you from receiving good therapy to work toward being able to leave your home and fully enjoy your life. Online therapy gives that chance.
- You have an entire state full of therapists available to you.
- Where my office is, in Franklin, TN (Cool Springs), it feels like I can throw a paper airplane and it will land at the feet of another therapist. There are tons of us here, which is a good thing. But in some areas, there aren’t a ton of therapists. So someone in Sewanee or Ooltewah or Jackson may end up “settling” for someone who isn’t a good fit. Or maybe the perfect therapist for someone in Brentwood or Nashville is actually in one of those smaller towns 2 hours away. With the internet, we’re able to reach all over Tennessee for our perfect therapist.
- You can move and keep your therapist.
- I work with a ton of high school students. Some of them inevitably become college students. So what happens when they decide to move? What if they go to UTK, or University of Memphis? Are they supposed to have to stop therapy, search for a new therapist all over again, and tell that therapist their entire story all over again, then try to summarize all of the work they’ve done in therapy up to that point? I know “life’s not fair,” but a lot of times the unfairness of life is why people are searching for trauma therapy or anxiety therapy. Online therapy is something that helps to make it fair in the therapy department. It’s a beautiful thing.
- Full disclosure – this can change a little when it comes to moving out of state. Some states’ licensing boards are super strict about therapists doing therapy across state lines. It’s unfortunate, because clients ultimately pay the price for it. Maybe one day, states can agree on a set of standards that allow people to receive consistent therapy. Until then, we’ll do the best we can with what we have, while we push for something better.
All of this being said, there’s nothing wrong with therapy in the office. I still really enjoy seeing people face-to-face. People like to see my dog, Edge. And my fish, who are at this point unnamed, because they all look exactly the same (what do you call 10 identical siblings?). Of course, that’s been impossible at times over the past year.
We’re all hoping that the pandemic leaves (and probably that the door hits it in the ass really hard on its way out). Through this whole thing, though, online therapy has been the lifeline and preserver for tons of kids and their families. I’m glad we have it, and I hope you utilize it if you feel like it would be useful for you.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. I’m happy to answer any of your online therapy questions.
It’s been a tough world lately. If you’ve been dealing with anxiety, or just generally feeling bad, there are options – including ones that don’t involve you having to go out if you’re uncomfortable with that. Middle school, high school, early adulthood – we have your back, and we’re here for you in any and every way we can be. We can answer your questions, or if you know you want to get started with anxiety treatment for teens or young adults in Franklin, TN follow these simple steps:
- Contact Cody and Edge for a free 15-minute consultation.
- Meet with Cody and Edge in person or online.
- Begin counseling so you can overcome anxiety, feel confident, and find your voice.
Counseling Services Provided by Cody and Edge
We offer several different services at our counseling office in Franklin, TN: Counseling for Teens, Counseling for Young Women, Walk + Talk Therapy, and Group Therapy for Teen Girls. Cody and Edge provide online therapy, as well as therapy in-office, to Tennessee residents. We are LGBTQ+ affirming and a safe place for all. Contact our office to learn more!