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What Is Teletherapy & How Does It Work?

Countless Americans have experienced the fact that therapy can be a literal lifesaver. Working with a therapist such as a mental health professional, a speech-language therapist, or an occupational therapist can drastically improve a person's outcomes in relationships, careers, overall well-being, and more.

Unfortunately, therapy hasn't always been accessible for everyone. Many people have experienced challenges to getting the therapy they need because of where they live, or what they can afford.

Fortunately, a new solution is on the horizon to allow these people to access therapy from anywhere: teletherapy allows patients to meet with therapists right on their computer screen.

Once, traditional in person therapy visits were preferred by most insurance companies and healthcare providers. But teletherapy has become increasingly common as more and more computers and Internet providers offer video chat capabilities.

The result? Many patients, therapists, and healthcare providers alike have found that teletherapy is more convenient, more affordable, and allows them to reach patients who might otherwise be unable to see them.

It looks like a huge increase in demand for teletherapy is here to stay, even after social distancing ends. Its level of comfort and convenience, and its way of making long distances disappear, has made teletherapy more desirable for many patients and practitioners alike than traditional therapy.

As the field of teletherapy explodes with new job opportunities and more opportunities to help those in need from the comfort of your own home, companies like ProCare Therapy are here to help you find teletherapy jobs that are hiring right now.

We're passionate about matching qualified therapists to patients in need. You can use our search engine to look for teletherapy jobs you might be able to do right now, or read our blog to learn about the benefits of working from home as a school counselor or another type of school professional.

For now, read on to learn more about teletherapy, its benefits and salary, and the different types of therapy that can be offered to patients remotely.

What is Teletherapy?

In traditional therapy, a patient visits a therapists' office to receive expert treatment of mental health and relationship challenges, disabilities, or injuries. This treatment can be life-changing or even life-saving, and many people say they would not be where they are today without the help of therapy.

However, access to therapy has traditionally been restricted by where someone lives, any mobility, time, or transportation challenges they might face, and by the cost of therapists maintaining a physical office in a high-traffic area where property prices are often sky-high. Teletherapy mitigates all of these challenges by allowing patients to speak with a therapist, even if they don't have the time, money, ability or geographic location to physically come into the office.

Teletherapy is a lot like any ordinary therapy session. It's like the patient and therapist are in the same room - except they're seeing each other through the computer screen, instead of sitting in chairs across from each other. The video component allows the therapist to make any demonstrations that might be necessary and to see how the patient is doing.

Some types of therapy, such as occupational therapy, require video conferencing to ensure that the patient and therapist can see each other's body language, and any physical skills the therapist may be demonstrating. A few teletherapy services, such as some mental health services, allow patients and therapists to speak via phone or even text message.

This alleviates the patient burden of commuting to a therapists' office, and may make it easier for therapists to find and treat patients and keep their practice booked.

Teletherapy Definition

Teletherapy is any sort of therapy that is conducted remotely, rather than in person. Like "telephone" or "television," teletherapy simply means that the service is provided remotely, through a screen or telephone.

While some have traditionally feared that teletherapy may not be as effective as in-person contact, the early results of occupational teletherapy have been extremely positive: many patients who could not access therapy at all before are now able to see a therapist on their computer, and therapists are finding their practices flooded with more patients than ever before.

As teletherapy's advantages become more accepted, there is potential that teletherapy could mean a patient doesn't have to live close to experts in their field to get the very best therapy available. It could also mean that therapists could live anywhere they please and work from home most of the time.

How Does Teletherapy Work?

A traditional therapy appointment involves patients visiting a therapists' office for a certain length of time. Appointments are often scheduled for an hour or two once per week, though some conditions may require more or less frequent treatment.

The conditions treated can range from mental health or relationship challenges that are making the patient unhappy, to disabilities or injuries which may require the patient to learn new physical or professional skills in order to have successful careers and social lives.

In teletherapy, these treatment and teaching sessions are simply conducted via video instead of in-person. The only limitation of teletherapy vs. in-person therapy is that the therapist cannot touch the patient. This is not an obstacle for most types of therapy, such as psychotherapy and speech-language therapy.

Types of Teletherapy

Many people don't realize how many types of therapy exist. Most people are familiar with using "therapy" to refer to mental health treatment, but therapeutic specialties also exist in the areas of:

  • Mental health treatment and relationship skills. Psychotherapists help people feel better and reach their goals by providing a listening ear and using techniques proven to help people to reach their goals and enjoy life more.

    Some psychotherapists also specialize in teaching skills that lead to healthier, more satisfying relationships, or provide couples or family counseling to improve existing relationships.
  • Speech and language. Speech-language therapists can help children and adults with physical or mental disabilities learn to speak clearly, can help people recover from injuries affecting their ability to speak, and can even specialize in helping people learn to speak a foreign language without an accent.
  • Occupational therapy. Occupational therapists help people acquire the skills to perform necessary, daily life tasks. Occupational therapists serve people with disabilities, people recovering from injuries, and even people with certain mental health challenges who might have trouble doing daily tasks at work or at home.

    The occupational therapist cultivates the patient's skills and confidence that are needed to perform these vital tasks, and suggests methods and equipment that may make these tasks easier and more accessible.

It's easy to see how valuable these services are, and why everyone should have access to them, regardless of their mobility level or where they live. That's why many therapists and patients alike are excited about the potential of teletherapy: it allows specialists to reach patients in need right in their own homes, no matter where they live.

SLP Teletherapy

"SLP" is an acronym often used to refer to "Speech-Language Pathologists," a specialized type of speech therapist.

Speech-language pathologists help people get better at speaking, listening, and overall communicating. They have special skills and knowledge about how the muscles of the body work together to form words, and how the brain processes sounds and speech. This allows them to provide specialized training and exercises for people with disabilities and people recovering from injuries.

ASHA, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, has embraced teletherapy as a way to reach patients who may not be able to access in person therapy, or who may benefit from additional therapy outside of their in person appointments. ASHA uses terms including "telepractice," "teleaudiology," "telespeech," and "speech teletherapy" to describe services offered by speech-language pathologists remotely.

SLP Teletherapy Jobs

Just like in-person teletherapy jobs, SLP teletherapy jobs may involve working for a school, a hospital or clinic, or another type of healthcare provider. There are also some companies which specialize exclusively in teletherapy, rather than offering it as an alternative within a traditional healthcare or educational setting.

As you might guess, the type of patients you will work for can vary by age, and the type of injury, disability, or other challenge they are experiencing, depending on which type of employer you choose. Some SLP jobs work almost exclusively with young children with disabilities, while those working for hospitals may see more adults who are recovering from accidents and injuries.

Some SLPs may even seek to set up their own private teletherapy practice, but anyone seeking to do this should consult with ASHA's requirements as well as local, state, and federal regulations for licensure, insurance, and more.

Any practice which provides medical or clinical services will need to meet stringent requirements for licensure, liability, and more. This is why most SLPs choose to work under the umbrella of a larger company, such as a healthcare provider or school, which handles these requirements.

SLP Teletherapy Salary

In 2019, SLP Teletherapists made a hefty salary! According to ZipRecruiter, SLP teletherapy salaries ranged from $32,500 to $142,500 per year. The vast majority of SLP teletherapists made between $62,500 and $92,500.

As with all jobs, salary can be influenced by education, experience, and cost of living. SLPs with a master's degree or PhD are likely to make more than those with an associate's or bachelor's degree, and SLPs with years of professional experience are likely to make more than those just starting out in the field.

Jobs which require or expect the employee to move to a city with a higher cost of living may also pay more - but this might not translate into more money being available for retirement savings, as the extra pay may be eaten up by costs of living.

Although teletherapy jobs may not require you to move at all, it's a good idea to check with the employer in case they do expect you to move to be near their headquarters or in person practice offices.

Teletherapy Occupational Therapy

Some have expressed concern that Occupational Therapy may be the hardest type of therapy to conduct remotely, since it can involve the therapist demonstrating or helping the patient practice physical and movement skills.

Many healthcare providers have recently begun to take their occupational therapy sessions online, and the result has been greater access to occupational therapy for all patients, and greater demand for occupational therapists as a result of this wider accessibility.

Many insurance and healthcare companies have recently begun to offer coverage for occupational teletherapy for the first time. As a result, the American Occupational therapy association has released a series of guidance documents including peer-reviewed research on the effects of occupational teletherapy and ethics and legal guidance documents to help occupational therapists in making treatment decisions as they move to teletherapy.

Like all therapists, occupational therapists must take certain steps to ensure that their practice meets standards for HIPAA-compliant video services, and other legal and ethical requirements.

Teletherapy Occupational Therapy Jobs

As many insurance companies begin covering occupational teletherapy for the first time, demand for occupational teletherapists is skyrocketing. You can use our search engine to find occupational teletherapy jobs that are hiring right now!

With many insurance companies now offering coverage for teletherapy for the first time, mental health treatment, speech-language therapy, and occupational therapy are now available to millions of patients who could not access these life-changing services before.

Now that we have entered the era of teletherapy, we can expect drastically increased access and drastically increased demand for therapeutic services for years to come. There will continue to be more options than ever before for therapists who want to help those most in need.

Search for Teletherapy jobs now!