Can Online Therapy Help Rural Teenagers Re-connect?

Receiving online psychology services is becoming more accepted and widespread by people of all age groups. Nelson and Bui (2010), in their review of telepsychology, noted that the vast majority of users of online psychological services experience a high level of satisfaction. They provided the following example to highlight the potential benefits and challenges of online counselling.

Case Illustration

“Jana”* is a 14-year-old girl who was struggling at home and having regular outbursts, some lasting up to two hours. The situation had become very difficult for the whole family. They needed support.

But Jana and her parents live in a remote area, and the prospect of driving six hours for weekly psychotherapy sessions was both daunting and impractical.

Most mental health specialists work in metropolitan areas, which are simply out of reach for many families living in rural settings.

This is where online therapies and telepsychology can help. By using real-time videoconferencing that allows a client and psychologist to interact remotely instead of in-person, people in remote and rural areas can receive valuable support.

As well as being more accessible, telepsychology offers other benefits. It can be cost-effective and user-friendly. Some people feel less self-conscious and more reassured that their conversation is confidential. Young people are often comfortable with this method of communicating because they’ve used interactive video in their social lives.

Like traditional psychotherapy, telepsychology has the potential to treat a range of conditions including, but not limited to stress, anxiety disorders including panic attacks, mood disorders such as depression (Nelson & Bui, 2010).

Jana was referred for telepsychology by her rural primary health care provider, and she attended sessions at her primary care clinic. As the initial session progressed, Jana’s mother reported that Jana appeared to like seeing herself on camera, smiling often.

For “Jana”, telepsychology therapy was a success, focusing on the ongoing use of communication, parenting and anger management skills. She and her family are communicating better with each other and have been able to re-connect.

Existing technology makes it possible for young people like Jana to easily receive videoconferencing or online therapy in almost any place, at any time. If you live in a rural or remote area you may also be able to claim a Medicare rebate – check here to see if you’re eligible.

Wherever you are in Australia, Online Psychology can offer you a confidential, online counselling service with a highly qualified and experienced psychologist, who can help you deal with a range of challenges.

For more information, please contact us on 1300 088 444.

Note: This blog is based on the article, ‘Rural Telepsychology Services for Children and Adolescents’ by Eve-Lynn Nelson and Thao Bui, in The Journal of Clinical Psychology, Vol. 66(5), 490-501 (2010), published online in Wiley InterScience (