Remote Counseling Sees Spike In Demand

Remote Counseling
Photo credit maroke/GettyImages
By NewsRadio 1080 KRLD

A growing part of the medical industry has seen an increase in demand because of COVID-19. Therapists say more people are seeking out remote mental health counseling.

The group, Smart Counseling, is based in Trophy Club but uses 165 therapists for virtual counseling. The group's clinical director says interest has jumped as people deal with uncertainty related to the virus.

"The feedback I hear from people in the field is they're really surprised how easily they were able to connect and build an intimate relationship with their therapist and experience immediate relief," says Catherine Tito.

Tito says people have grown concerned about the effects of the virus but also its effect on the economy. She says more people are calling, asking for help dealing with emotional stress caused by financial uncertainty and restrictions caused by the virus.

"People report feeling a loss of personal freedom. They're afraid of getting sick; they're afraid of their loved ones getting sick. They're worried about their job security," Tito says. "Those feelings often resulted in post trauma stress, detachment, insomnia."

Smart Counseling has received a $5,000 grant from RevTech Ventures in Dallas. The grant was to increase availability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smart Counseling is using the grant to offer discounts. People who use the coupon code, COVID19, when signing up at SmartCounseling.com can receive a 60 percent discount for their first month. People will then receive a 50 percent discount for the next six months.

Tito says the stress associated with financial concerns has led to her seeing more people who feel constant sadness or that they "can't get going, that everything is an effort." She says those are symptoms people should watch for and consider counseling.

Meantime, she urges people to limit their time watching media or social media.

"Address your feelings of anxiety, practice good self-care, try to maintain a healthy mindset instead of building a fortress around themselves and their families," she says.

She says many of her clients have been police officers, firefighters or paramedics. She says first responders have a criteria they follow responding to a fire or emergency call, but they may not have responded to calls about a new sickness before.

"Learning to increase their 'uncertainty tolerance' is especially required right now because there's so much we don't know or understand," Tito says. "We offer messaging therapy, and that gives a person who is reluctant to see a therapist on video the opportunity to express themselves in a HIPAA secured room with messages. A therapist will review their messages and respond with encouragement and feedback."

Tito says the grant from RevTech ventures will also let the group research how remote counseling is growing. She says the medical community is struggling with a shortage of counselors and therapists, so remote counseling can help reach more patients. She says video conferencing can also give therapists more flexibility with their schedules.

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