Therapy that is delivered virtually rather than in person is known as teletherapy. Since the COVID-19 pandemic started two years ago, this particular telehealth service has grown significantly. Since it can be conducted over the phone, teletherapy has been available for a while. However, as in-person consultations were deemed unsafe, more professionals and patients started adopting videoconferencing platforms. Many other types of therapy can be used with teletherapy, which has been shown to be just as successful as in-person therapy.
In his book With the Heart in Mind: The Moral and Emotional Intelligence of the Prophet, Mikaeel Ahmed Smith makes the case that by learning from the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him [PBUH]), we can enhance the caliber of our interactions with those around us. The best therapists, according to him, are there with their patients so that they can connect with them on a kinesthetic and emotional level, according to his book. Does a virtual counseling session allow for this?
It took some getting used to for Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor Hadia Zarzour of Darien, Illinois, to start offering teletherapy online. She started providing teletherapy in April 2020 and struggled with being away from her patients. She was concerned about how it would affect how she interacted with them. Zarzour says, “I worried how we would achieve the same in-person experience behind a computer screen. Although it’s crucial to read body language during therapy sessions, we were able to make it work electronically.
According to Zarzour, the availability of teletherapy has persuaded many who were apprehensive about getting aid to feel at ease doing it via online platforms. Because of teletherapy’s simplicity, availability, and low cost, she continues to do it now and has clients from all over the world. Anyone who experiences social anxiety or phobia can benefit from not having to leave the comfort of their homes, according to Zarzour. “Teletherapy is reducing stigma and normalizing awareness of mental health issues. As more people become aware of the numerous internet resources for mental health, we have observed an increase in services. Zarzour does point out that trying to counsel children digitally is a drawback of teletherapy. She prefers to meet with children in person since they may benefit from play therapy and more engaging correspondence.
One disadvantage of teletherapy for practitioners who provide more flexible hours is separating personal and work life. Sana Mohiuddin, a certified professional counselor at the Khalil Center in Lombard, Illinois, is one such expert. According to Mohiuddin, “Over access can occasionally lead to a client becoming too comfortable and expecting more from his or her therapist in terms of availability. On the whole, nevertheless, therapy is now easily accessible online to people who previously were unable to obtain it because of transportation, time constraints, distance, employment, or family obligations.
Mohiuddin graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with an M.A. in counselor education with a focus in marital and family counseling. Mohiuddin favors in-person sessions while working with couples in order to adequately mediate between the parties. According to Mohiuddin, “Married couples who are having issues are urged in Islam to seek mediation, and we are encouraged in sunnah to seek advice.” “Therapy in the appropriate environment can deliver that.”
For the past 15 months, Lubna Iqbal* has received teletherapy in addition to in-person therapy. When she initially sought assistance, teletherapy was her only choice. Iqbal adds, “I definitely prefer meeting my therapist in person rather than [on] the computer.” If I have to stare into my camera, I can’t look at my therapist’s eyes and she can’t see me or my body language completely.
Iqbal used to go to therapy every week, but now he only goes once every two weeks. In general, she has benefited from the ability to meet virtually. Iqbal claims that having a regular person to talk to about his concerns has been really beneficial to him. I am acquiring the skills I need to heal myself. Iqbal has unfortunately been unable to let her father know that she needs assistance with her mental health. She hasn’t spoken up about it because she fears that he would think less of her.
In Naperville, Illinois, Haleema Syed is aware of the stigma associated with receiving counseling. She used to call a therapist on the phone back in 2016 after going through a trying divorce. She then used this information to locate a Muslim divorcee support group in her area. These women gather in person or online under the supervision of a certified therapist to exchange ideas and offer one another support as they deal with different difficulties. Even a WhatsApp group was created for them to speak more frequently. The women have a strong sense of trust for one another, and they are all required to sign a confidentiality and permission agreement promising to keep each other’s personal information private. Haleema says, “It’s a secure place for us to comfort and encourage one another.” “I came to the realization that I am not alone and that I can rely on this community for sisterly support, their prayers, direction, and love. Due to the increased demand for assistance, even if it is only virtual, among women, the group has now spread outside of Illinois.
The majority of the patients who see board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Jawad Pervez in Kenosha, Wisconsin, receive telemedicine services. He says we are still reaping the rewards of teletherapy today and finds it to be very beneficial. Dr. Pervez reminds us that the Prophet (PBUH) was extremely sensitive to both his own emotions and those of others around him. “Preserving one’s mental health and asking for assistance, including through telemedicine, are Sunnah. There is no downside to asking for assistance or talking to someone.
In the Quran, God commands us to “consult the wise if you do not know” (21:7). Dr. Pervez advises against focusing solely on Muslim mental health professionals in one’s search for care. “You must be aware of your own emotions and be able to communicate them in order to seek treatment,” he says. There are numerous licensed professionals who provide teletherapy, so choosing the best one for you may be confusing. The first step is to consult with your primary care physician to ascertain the kind of mental health [advice] you might require. The ideal starting point is there.
Since the birth of technology, we have been inundated with devices and tools. In recent years, teletherapy has developed into a useful technique for improving mental health. Nearly 50 million Americans suffer from a mental condition, says Mental Health America (MHA). Help is only a mouse click away from the convenience of home. Even if it might not be for everyone, teletherapy is a readily available choice.