Need Therapy? It Now Comes with a Dialtone

Would you be more likely to go to a therapist if you could do it over the phone?  I'm not talking about dial-a-shrink, but an actual appointment you had every week for an hour, just not in person but over the phone?

"Teletherapy's" been around for a while.  I remember writing about it last year when it came to prisons (and really helped), but it's taken a while to get into the mainstream.  (I also remember reporting on all the dot coms who thought therapy could be done online, with patients -- or "clients," as they're now called -- posting questions and a specific therapist answering.  We saw how well that worked out!)

But teletherapy is gaining new ground, according to Audrey Quinn at smartplanet.com, and one therapist has even partnered with 50 other therapists in a variety of fields and she will soon bring that number up to 100 to do this very thing.

TalkSession was recently chosen by GE Ventures and Startup Health Academy to participate in their three-year accelerator program, Quinn reports. They’ve gathered their first round of seed financing with funds from a variety of investors and are set to launch in beta version soon.

And the woman behind it all, CEO Melissa Thompson, thinks she's on to something big.

"One in four people suffer from a mental illness, yet two-thirds never seek help. How do we make it acceptable, the way that forward-thinking gyms did with working out in the ’90s? They made it cool –” TalkSession’s media and communications consultant Anaïs Borja told Quinn.

TalkSession's goal is to make seeking therapy less of a shameful or embarrassing event, and more like a lifestyle choice, like pumping iron or spinning.

But there are challenges. What about confidentiality?  And will it be too impersonal and impossible to feel a connection with a therapist who's not in front of you, what's always crucial when you seek help?  Will it catch on?

Skype, one of the ways first thought of as a venue, does not qualify because it does not meet HIPAA regulations.

So, what's the future of this type of therapy?  Would you do it?  I suppose it has its benefits -- you can do it completely on your own, with no one else in the waiting room or seeing you enter the building or even coming out of the mental health professional's office.

But the drawbacks are there, too.  It will be interesting to see if this really takes off in a population that's free to come and go as they please (not like a prison, where your only contact with anyone may just be over the phone).

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