Is Telemental Health Effective – How Does It Measure Up?

  • Thursday, January 3, 2019
telemental health, effectiveness of telemental health, research telemental health, teletherapy effectiveness, behavioral telemental health research, telemental health studies, efficacy telemental health, efficacy of online therapy, research in online mental health, evidence telemental health, evidence teletherapy, research teletherapy, video conferencing platform for telehealth, video conferencing platform for telemental health, telepsychology, effectiveness of online therapy, effectiveness of online counseling, effectiveness of telepsychology

It seems like all of a sudden, you’re seeing and hearing more and more about telemental health. Your colleagues are getting trained and embracing the new technology. They  provide online counseling and online therapy. You’re still on the fence. You’re not alone.

A good number of therapists are still unsure about the effectiveness of telemental health or teletherapy (online therapy). This skepticism is well-founded. After all, being able to connect virtually is relatively new technology and the field is still growing. Rules and practice standards are evolving. And, let’s be honest, for lots of therapists trained in the days of face-to-face, paper-and-pen notetaking sessions, this new-fangled way of delivering services can seem daunting and almost too good to be true.

So instead of taking someone’s word for it, let’s look at the facts.

A Little History

Would it surprise you to know that the concept of telemental health or teletherapy (online therapy) has been around since the mid 1950’s? That’s long before the internet was even a thing.

In the mid-1950’s, Cecil Wittson, MD, used a closed-circuit television system to provide live transmissions of therapy sessions. While it was just for training purposes, the groundwork was laid. The late 1960’s saw the emergence of tele-psychiatry services mostly through links with major metropolitan medical centers.1

The Veterans Administration (VA) embraced the technology early on and continues to expand its telehealth services such as teletherapy (online therapy) and online counseling. They have been using telehealth and telemental health for 30+ years to treat the thousands of veterans needing services. This means of delivery translates into service accessibility for veterans who are geographically limited or who prefer online services.2

More recently, insurance and managed care companies have recognized the need for greater access to mental health services. Many of these companies are now allowing for the provision of some mental health services via telemental health.

Most importantly, state boards are establishing standards for the provision of services.

So, telemental health and online therapy has been around while. 

What does the research say?

The research into telemental health has consistently shown it to be an effective delivery system for mental health services. A 2013 review of the literature found that telemental health is as effective and comparable to in-person care.3  More specifically, the use and effectiveness in telemental health has been demonstrated in:

  • diagnosis and assessment (good inter-rater reliability)
  • many populations (adult, child, geriatric, and ethnic)
  • most mental health disorders
  • a variety of settings including ER’s, home health, private practice, agencies and schools
  • providing access to geographically distant clients
  • improved client satisfaction


A 2017 review of the current literature supports these earlier findings and recognizes telemental health such as online counseling as an effective solution for service delivery and is especially advantageous for geographically isolated communities.4

Some studies have even found that telemental health services may actually be preferable to in-person care in certain populations and situations. Children and adolescents and veterans in particular, seem to especially benefit from the use of telemental health. 5,6

What about the efficacy with certain diagnoses or higher-risk populations? Again, the literature seems to support the use of telemental health (online therapy). Studies have found that this means of service delivery to be effective with clients who are:

  • Hearing impaired7
  • Diagnosed with dementia8
  • At higher risk or have serious mental illness9

There is even emerging research to suggest that telemental health services could be leveraged following a disaster.10 Imagine being able to rapidly deploy clinicians to places where getting “boots on the ground” could take days!

As you can see, there is growing research to support telemental health. This is but a small sample of the research in this rapidly expanding area of mental health.

To be sure, telemental health is NOT the be-all and end-all in the delivery of therapy. Nor is it for every client or every clinician. Clearly, there are limitations. These may be limits in terms of the presentation of a particular case. The limitations may be driven by a particular provider’s level of skill or confidence in treating certain cases online.

Choosing the right video conferencing platform for telemental health is also important, and TheraPlatform was built for mental health providers in mind.

As with any service or treatment modality, the most important thing is to do your due diligence. Read the literature. Make sure your training and skills meet the client’s needs. Work within your scope of practice and stay up-to-date with best practices. This will allow you to provide the best services possible for your client.


1. Telemental Health Is Becoming the Norm. (2017, December 11). Retrieved from

2. Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. (n.d.). News Releases - Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. Retrieved from

3. Hilty, D. M., Ferrer, D. C., Parish, M. B., Johnston, B., Callahan, E. J., & Yellowlees, P. M. (2013). The effectiveness of telemental health: a 2013 review. Telemedicine journal and e-health : the official journal of the American Telemedicine Association, 19(6), 444-454.

4. Langarizadeh, M., Tabatabaei, M. S., Tavakol, K., Naghipour, M., Rostami, A., & Moghbeli, F. (2017). Telemental Health Care, an Effective Alternative to Conventional Mental Care: a Systematic Review. Acta informatica medica : AIM : journal of the Society for Medical Informatics of Bosnia & Herzegovina : casopis Drustva za medicinsku informatiku BiH, 25(4), 240-246.

5. Pakyurek M. Yellowlees PM. Hilty, DM.(2010) The child and adolescent telepsychiatry consultation: Can it be a more effective clinical process for certain patients than conventional practice? Telemed J E Health. 16, 289–292.

6. Morland LA. Greene CJ. Rosen C, et al. (2009). Issues in the design of a randomized noninferiority clinical trial of telemental health psychotherapy for rural combat veterans with PTSD. Contemp Clin Trials. 30, 513–252.

7. Crowe, T. (2017, May 15). Telemental Health Services as a Targeted Intervention for Individuals who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Retrieved from

8. Moussa, Y., Mahdanian, A. A., Yu, C., Segal, M., Looper, K. J., Vahia, I. V., & Rej, S. (2017). Mobile Health Technology in Late-Life Mental Illness: A Focused Literature Review. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry25(8), 865-872.

9. Pratt, S. I., Naslund, J. A., Wolfe, R. S., Santos, M., & Bartels, S. J. (2014). Automated telehealth for managing psychiatric instability in people with serious mental illness. Journal of Mental Health, 24(5), 261-265.

10. Augusterfer, E. F., Mollica, R. F., & Lavelle, J. (2018). Leveraging Technology in Post-Disaster Settings: the Role of Digital Health/Telemental Health. Current Psychiatry Reports20(10).

TeletherapyResourcesBehavioral Therapy
telemental health, telepsychology, online therapy, telemental health platform, hipaa complaint video platform, getting started in telemental health, telemental health video chat,telementalhealth, telemental platform, video telemental


Telemental Health – What’s All the Buzz About?

You’ve probably been hearing a lot lately about telehealth or telemental health. You might be a little put off by the idea of virtual service delivery. You might even be a little curious. So, what is all the buzz about?

online therapy, telepractice session, teletherapy, telepractice, teletherapy platform, telepractice platform, HIPAA compliant teletherapy platform, video conferencing, telemental health, telepsychology, telespeech,telemedicine


20 Tips for Smooth Online Therapy (Teletherapy) Session

The TheraPlatform Team has a few tips to help you make a teletherapy or telepractice session as smooth as possible

Start 30-day Free Trial
Teletherapy e-book
Getting Started
Behavioral Therapy
Case Studies

Latest Posts

  • Therapy Activities and Icebreakers

    Wednesday, September 9, 2020

    This blog will review therapy activities that can be used as ice breakers for new pediatric clients in one on one or group sessions. Whether in person or via telehealth, an initial meeting with a new client can make you feel a certain type of anxious. Though there may be some guilt around “wasting” time getting to know the client and building rapport prior to getting to the meat of the therapy, the research actually says that taking the time to build a strong relationship with your client is likely more important than any specific therapy task. Here are 10 fun therapy activities.

  • Anxiety Counseling Techniques during COVID- 19

    Friday, September 4, 2020

    This blog will review anxiety counseling techniques that counselors and therapists can apply when treating individuals during the current coronavirus pandemic.The coronavirus has obvious physical health implications but it has also brought along with it significant anxiety problems. Not only are people afraid of catching COVID-19 but the resulting restrictions have led to worries about finances, education, and the future. For mental health professionals, the challenge is to help people cope effectively with their anxiety issues. Here are suggestions on what counseling techniques can be considered to assist the anxious client.

  • Tips and Activities for Social Skills Group and Language Group via Telepractice (teletherapy)

    Tuesday, August 18, 2020

    Social Skills Group or Language Group is a great way to help children learn and practice both their social and language skills with their peers but how is it done via telepractice (teletherapy)? What social skills group activities can be utilized when seeing clients online? Not only will this blog answer those questions, but it will also provide you with a repeatable session plan and activities that can be used for small group language or social skills therapy via telepractice and a list of 20 Youtube videos to utilize as a basis for those lessons.

Teletherapy e-book

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.

Learn More