Michelle Murray, a licensed professional counselor based in Chicago, specializes in helping patients with depression, anxiety, grief and loss, and the stressors of everyday life. Since November 2020, she has been working in partnership with Calmerry, an online therapy platform.
Calmerry is one of many online therapy sites that have gained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. It offers an affordable, convenient way for people to see a licensed therapist and patients can choose to either communicate with their therapist via text messaging or through texts and video calls both.
“With the clients that I have, it seems that the messaging works better because some people are not really comfortable with speaking openly about their issues,” Murray said. “It gives those patients a kind of anonymity, which can be beneficial. I wasn’t quite sure how the messaging would work, but I can still send clients resources they may need, such as worksheets or homework, and the only difference is it’s just not face to face.”
Murray said that she has always been interested in telehealth, but the pandemic really opened the door for new opportunities in the online space.
Telehealth offers unprecedented convenience for patients and therapists alike, as they can speak frankly from the comfort of their own homes. “The beauty of it is that clients can text me when something comes up during their day,” Murray explained. “For instance, they may be having a little anxiety or a trigger of some sort, and they can just send me a message and know I will respond. And I can remind them of exercises or grounding techniques that we may have gone over.”
Murray’s clients range in ages and circumstances, but each find value in the flexibility teletherapy offers. For instance, one of her clients is a young mother whose children have to go to preschool. Telehealth allows counselors like Murray to work around their clients’ schedules.
“I have one client who is addicted to porn,” Murray said. “[Telehealth] works for him because he has found his addiction embarrassing. He has a sense of shame, and he’s never shared his addiction with anyone, so he’s one of my clients that prefers text messaging.”
As expected, here are some cons alongside the many benefits of telehealth. Murray mentioned that only communicating with her clients via the computer takes away an aspect of human contact that is hard to simulate.
“I’m a hugger,” she said. “With telehealth, it takes away human contact. I can’t even shake a client’s hand or give them a hug.”
While Murray has clients of all ages, she does note that several of her clients are in their early twenties, and these clients in particular found it easy to adjust to the online texting style.
In general, Murray said she was impressed by the service a platform like Calmerry provided for her as a counselor, and sees telehealth becoming a staple in healthcare even beyond the pandemic.
“It’s a game changer,” she said. “I don’t have to travel to an office, so I can see more clients. And the subscription is so much more affordable than traditional healthcare options. It’s absolutely a game changer.”
This article has been paid for by Calmerry.