Many people have been introduced to online therapy in the last few months. It almost feels like a new phenomenon that has taken the world by storm. Telehealth, as it’s sometimes called, has actually been around for a long time. Many practitioners can claim to have been practicing online therapy for over a decade!
Here are some reasons why they’ve taken their practice online and why it’s easier than you might think:
Therapy at Home
As many of us struggle with our busy schedules, sometimes there just isn’t time to travel to an in-person practice. Between working, looking after the children and the growing number of activities your family participates in, it’s hard to find the time.
Whilst some of us in the cities can travel a mere 15 minutes to access healthcare, it is not so easy everywhere. Some communities in Australia don’t even have a therapy clinic within 3 hours of their town, and that can be a big problem for families.
The notion of therapy at home is welcomed by many. You can receive online therapy from your sofa! Not only does this eradicate the time spent travelling, but your child is in their home environment, exhibiting natural behaviours that the therapist can see in a real-life context.
No long waiting times
A lot of pre-COVID-19 online therapists in Australia can recall the reason they started practising online therapy – to rectify the inequality that those in rural communities experience when it comes to healthcare.
“It is not uncommon for families in rural Australia to wait up to 12 months for a therapist. ”
This can cause serious problems for children, such as being left behind in school or even worse; one study claims that 50% of juvenile offenders have some form of a communication problem.
If this study is anything to go by, fixing this problem would not only be beneficial to the child and family in question, but society as a whole.
We are all on different schedules these days; the notion of 9 to 5 is becoming less of the norm. A lot of us wish we only did 9 to 5.
On top of the work, you have to support your child with things like homework, sports and extracurricular activities. It’s not always possible to be at the clinic for 6pm sharp, especially if you have multiple appointments every week.
Online therapy allows you to see therapists from different states, and thus different time zones! A 6pm appointment in Western Australia can be an 8pm appointment in Queensland.
Also, not all of these therapists work 9-5. A lot of them have families just like you and sometimes it’s hard to find the time during the day to get to work. If your child is a bit of a night owl and your therapist likes to find the time to work after putting the kids to bed, a 9pm appointment may be perfect for you!
Access to more therapists
There are roughly 8,500 speech pathologists in Australia today. How many of these you actually have access to is very much determined by your location.
But what if you had access to all of them online? Now, we’re not saying all therapists are doing online therapy, but a large chunk of them are starting this transition, especially after COVID-19 restrictions forced their hand.
“The more therapists you have access to, the higher quality of therapy there is available to you and your family.”
Let’s face it. A 9pm appointment isn’t something many therapists are going to want to do, but guess what? The more access you have to therapists, the more chance one of them is willing to do that, too!
People think that there aren’t enough therapists in Australia, but the reality is that we haven’t found the right working environment for them. Many female speech pathologists go down to part-time work or even stop working after starting a family, due to being unable to keep up with the overwhelming demand of the industry as well as motherhood. But if online therapy is a way to let therapists choose their own hours, we can see an increase in therapists across Australia.
It’s hard to get your child to sit still in front of a screen unless they’re really engaged. This is where you come in.
At Umbo, one of the key things that makes our therapy work so well is our person-centred approach. In short, this involves creating a support network around the person, based on their motivations and strengths. We work with the family to create goals that work for you and your family, upskilling the people in around the individual to make them understand what we’re trying to achieve. By being part of this support network, you can help to give your child 24/7 therapy.
Now that you’re part of the process, you can learn how to support your child from the context of their therapy goals. You’re not just sending your child to therapy and sitting there whilst the therapist talks to them; you’re actively helping your child to engage with the therapist on screen.
The therapist will work with you, other family members and a key worker. This may be a teacher, support worker, an allied health assistant, or anyone who is involved in your child’s life who can fulfil this role.
The team will be coached by the therapist to work on therapy goals, so that your child receives real-life, in-context support to achieve these goals.
Want to know more about person-centred online therapy?
Online therapy is new to many of us, but whilst its rise has been facilitated by the effects of COVID-19, we’re not expecting it to go back any time soon. If you’re a clinician and want to know how to deliver online therapy, Umbo offers FREE online therapy training.
If you’d like to see how online therapy could work for your family, book your FREE consultation.