E-sessions have emerged as a key, if not, the only option for therapy amid tightening social distancing measures.
I work mainly with children and adolescents and engaging this demographic through a screen had initially been a concern as mandatory work from home measures came into play. However, after a couple of weeks of working remotely, I have concluded that e-therapy can be a viable option and have actually observed some benefits compared to in-person consultations.
For instance, since starting work-from-home orders, I have racked up a 100% attendance/ participation rate with all my clients. Compare this to roughly 1 in 5 appointment default rate over the same period of time for in-person cases. Of course a lockdown means few other distractions, but I’m also attributing this to the convenience of being able to avoid a long commute and simply logging on to their home desktop or mobile device at the appointment time.
Additionally, most of the appointments have taken place on schedule despite the occasional technical glitches while initially setting up their device for the online platform. Perhaps more interestingly, the clients that have participated in my remote sessions have so far been more engaged than usual. A client who was active and moving around the consult room when we had our in-person sessions, was engaged and remained seated throughout the e-therapy sessions.
Finally, with today’s technology, distance can no longer be considered a barrier to engagement.
Functions such as ‘share screen’ have allowed me to share social stories with clients. It’s given me the ability to complete activities while I provide guidance over the screen in real time. The ‘virtual whiteboard’ functions have allowed me to write ideas and present in real time, as if the client were right beside me. Of course, this complements good, old fashioned prep work in making sure clients have materials ahead of sessions. So far, feedbacks on the sessions have all been positive.
The point I’m trying to make is that the reservations I’ve had over E-sessions have so far been unwarranted. At the end of the day, the conferences I’ve conducted have proven to work well at a time when social distancing and various restrictions on services are being tightened further.
As therapists, we will continue to do our best to provide a high level of care and service to our clients regardless the therapy format. Meanwhile, stay safe and stay home.
Dr. Jamie Ong