Teletherapy: Different yet still effective
By: Risa Ganel, LCMFT Owner/Principle Therapist

I’m usually open to new ideas, searching for ways to improve and grow intellectually and emotionally, and in search of new adventures. 

Just ask my husband. He has a few stories to tell about the many things I’ve gotten us involved in over the years! Marathons, 100 mile bike rides….

But there are certain things where I admit to being resistant, stubborn, even old-fashioned.

When e-books first came out, I hated the very idea. I wanted to feel the pages of a book in my hands – there’s a tactile experience that comes from touching the pages, seeing the cover art, dog-earing the corner of the page where I left off, seeing the worn pages of a well-read book and knowing others have held it in their hands and absorbed its contents with the same voraciousness I do. That’s why I said I’d never use an e-reader.

When teletherapy started gaining momentum, I hated that idea too. I can walk into my waiting room and immediately pick up on the energy of my next clients. In session, I catch the eye-roll, the held-back tear, the cough covering discomfort. There’s nothing like face-to-face human interaction. The only time I used video for therapy was as a graduate student, when my supervisors had me video-tape each session I conducted, and then went over them with a fine-toothed comb to help me become a better therapist.

Then, in September 2019, I had a conversation with a wise mentor, Danny Iny of Mirasee. As we walked through the streets of downtown Montreal, we talked about my frustration with the online space and how companies were using it to build apps for therapy. He responded, “Yes, it’s different. But different can still be effective.” For months now, I’d been mulling over this and what it could mean for the therapy profession to which I dedicated my entire career. 

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Now, it’s no longer just a matter of convenience. It’s a matter of public safety and ethical responsibility to conduct sessions via teletherapy. 

So I embraced it. It’s not the same, but that’s OK because it’s still effective. 

I can responsibly provide much-needed care to couples and individuals who need it now as much or even more than before the pandemic. It’s the new normal. And you know what? I’ll continue to offer it even when the pandemic is behind us, as it will be one day.

And yes, I use an e-reader now too. I guess old dogs can learn new tricks. 

Many of you who I’ve seen in person have chosen not to continue via teletherapy. I get it. In the hierarchy of needs, couples therapy can fall lower on the list. Others may have worked with me a long time ago and completed our work together. Some of you have never met with me, but joined our list to receive periodic support, for which I thank you.

For all of you, know that I am still here if your relationship needs support, individually or as a couple, even in this era of “social distancing.” 

Yes, it’s different, but it still works. 

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