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Surprising Science

Roadblocks to Virtual Therapy

While online therapy sessions could make counseling services available to a new group of people, there are logistical and financial obstacles including lack of insurance reimbursement.

What’s the Latest Development?

Several companies currently offer online therapy sessions given by licensed psychologists but the business has yet to really catch. The idea of virtual counselling has been around since the 1970s but logistical and financial problems have prevented the idea from going mainstream. A great deal of personal contact is lost when a session occurs over video chat software and the therapist cannot directly intervene if there is a crisis. Insurance is equally a problem. Many plans do not reimburse patients for online consultations, making it difficult to appeal directly to patients. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Despite these drawbacks, online therapy could solve problems associated with long or even mid-distance trips to the psychologist’s office. Patients who are too depressed or anxious to get dressed and drive away from their home could feel more comfortable in their own surroundings. Carolyn Turvey, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa, says some patients “describe feeling freer to explore deep feelings when they know they don’t have to drive a long distance home from the clinic.”


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