In general, teletherapy has extended the reach of therapy providers so that they can serve patients who otherwise wouldn’t have access to care. For example, rural areas that do not have therapy providers or high-volume areas with long waitlists could have patients who need urgent care but cannot find it. A government study in 2019 found that of the 13.2 million U.S. adults with serious mental health conditions, nearly half had not received mental health treatment. This study went on to explain that teletherapy improved both the client and provider experience as well as the health of the U.S. population, all while decreasing costs.
Aside from geographical barriers to treatment, the nature of anxiety disorders can make it more difficult for a client to seek help. Similar to how clients with Autism Spectrum Disorder might not be able to attend appointments without the help of a support person, psychological disorders can prevent people from seeking out and receiving consistent help from a professional therapist. Anxiety disorders, which cause persistent feelings of dread sometimes attached to certain triggers, present a long list of barriers to treatment. Researchers have vigorously studied teletherapy as it has gained popularity, and many studies show it can help overcome these barriers.
Understanding the Barriers for Different Types of Anxiety Disorders
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a diagnosis given to clients who suffer from persistent anxiety interfering with their daily lives. Clients with GAD will find it difficult or even impossible to carry out daily activities and need assistance in breaking free from their heightened emotional responses to everyday situations. A change in routine or environment, or the presentation of a new experience, can trigger a serious response in these individuals that gets in the way of their ability to attend therapy appointments.
There are also more specialized anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety disorder. If a client has social anxiety disorder, their feelings are triggered specifically in situations where they feel they are being watched or judged by other people. This fear can cause clients to avoid social interactions and situations, including visiting an office and attending appointments.
Further, anxiety disorders could be attached to specific phobias, such as the fear of leaving one’s home, crowds, transportation, and healthcare environments or professionals. These fears could be so extreme that they do not only affect the client when faced with that situation, but also at the thought of that situation possibly arising. All of these phobias would directly affect the client’s ability to attend appointments with an in-person therapist.