Some Utah Therapists Are Using Video Chat, Email and Text To Help Teens

May 24, 2019, 7:30 PM

MURRAY, Utah — More teens and adolescents are suffering from depression and anxiety than ever before. Finding a therapist and getting an appointment right away is extremely difficult. Some therapists in Utah are turning to technology to help teens.

Teens today are stressed out — and they’re not just stressed, they’re like, ‘I can’t function. I have panic attacks,’” said Regina Tippets, LCMHC, clinical director at RCT Counseling.

An increasing number are getting therapy online through video counseling.

“We’ll log on and they’re in their pajamas and we’ll say, ‘Are you in your pajamas?’” Tippets said.

Some licensed therapists also offer counseling through email and text messaging.

“To them, this is second nature,” Tippets said. “This is totally one of the benefits of all their comfort with social media.”

TeenCounseling, based in the Bay Area, matches teens with online therapists in their state.

“Teens seem to be a lot more comfortable a lot more comfortable a lot of the time expressing themselves through text messages, versus sitting in a room and staring at a therapist that they’ve never met before,” said Haesue Jo, with BetterHelp.

Up to 500 new clients sign up every day in the U.S. But here in Utah, therapists are still warming up to the idea. Not all offer online therapy, and others only do it to an extent.

Tippets uses video counseling.

“We have found it to be just as effective,” she said.

But she doesn’t offer therapy sessions through text messaging or email, because she said seeing her clients’ reactions and body language is key.

The American Psychiatric Association says video-based telepsychiatry reduces delays in care, emergency room visits and lessens the stigma of treatment. It also points to early studies that find it as good as in-person care in diagnosing and treating patients.

“They’ll text me and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m freaking out, and I’ll say, ‘Okay, which coping skill are you going to use?’”

Helping teens cope by logging on.

In an emergency, it’s better to contact a suicide crisis line, use the SAFEUT app, or go to your nearest emergency room.

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Some Utah Therapists Are Using Video Chat, Email and Text To Help Teens