Intro to Telehealth Therapy for Clients and Consumers
Updated: Mar 22, 2021
Telehealth is often a great option for therapy, and something I have been using as a clinician and a client for years. For those who would benefit from working with a specialist (for adoption, highly sensitive persons, couples, etc.) it allows you to choose the best therapist for you, rather than limiting you to whichever practitioners are in your area. It can also allow you to still attend appointments when you have a sick kid at home or a weather advisory. For some people, it really helps to be in your own space or have the therapist on a small screen to help you go deeper into your process. It also means you don’t have to drive after a session which can sometimes be beneficial. Telehealth can be very similar to meeting in a counselor’s office. While we can’t offer you coffee or tea, you can certainly make your own. Those who are skeptical have been surprised that telehealth works just as well, and sometimes is even better. It does help to have a therapist who is experienced with telehealth. In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, Counselors new to telehealth who bill insurance are figuring out how to code it to submit claims on top of figuring out platforms and set ups. At Counseling at The Green House, we do not accept insurance because it allows us to spend more time in direct contact with clients and to protect our clients from unneeded mental health diagnoses becoming a part of their permanent medical record. We have been able to focus on our clients and open up more hours to meet needs in this stressful time. The transition to all telehealth has gone smoothly because we were already experienced with telehealth. Here are some tips for you to help make telehealth go more smoothly:
You can protect your own privacy by being in a private location - this may be a closed room or closet or even your car. Since Oscar can open the doors at home, I have to make sure I lock the doors. Wearing earbuds or headphones is another way you can protect yourself from anything being overheard. It is also suggested that you join from a password protected WiFi network. You can help make sure the connection is clear and there is not a lag between you and your counselor by shutting down other windows, rebooting your machine before signing in, using an up to date device, and making sure you have a solid internet connection. If you are having audio problems the first thing to check is the volume, the mute settings, and that you have given audio permissions on your device. At Counseling at The Green House, each of our counselors has at least one backup platform option. In the rare case that you are having difficulty signing in, a quick text or email to your counselor can help you move to the back up option. In the unusual situation that you are not able to connect to any platform (usually a connectivity issue), your therapist can call you. At Counseling at The Green House, we only use HIPAA complaint platforms. You may want to check if your therapist is using a HIPAA compliant platform. Currently in the COVID-19 crisis some states are making exceptions for HIPAA; however, this doesn’t seem necessary in the majority of cases. There are many quality HIPAA compliant platforms several of which are free for therapists. Assuming solid internet service and a reasonably up to date device, these platforms should work. Without HIPAA protection you are risking that not only the fact that you are talking with a counselor becomes public knowledge but also potentially the details of what you discuss. Rather than FaceTime, a telephone call is more protected. Regardless of the platform, you are likely to receive a link to your individual therapist or counseling meeting room. Many platforms have a digital waiting room, so you may wait for your counselor to start the meeting. Sessions run very similarly to how they would in the office. For those who Brainspot using biolateral music, you can download the music on any of your favorite platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, or Amazon music. Search for “David Grand” or “Brainspotting”. You only need to download one track if you put it on repeat. You will want to play it on a separate device than you are using to meet with your counselor. Brainspotting music should be played with headphones at a very low volume. Please remember that Brainspotting music should be first experienced in the presence of a trained Brainspotting therapist. If you use the Brainspotting goggles to isolate your eyes, this can be done with a sleep mask or medical eye mask like this. As long as it fully blocks the light you can experiment with other things too. Therapy is not limited by telehealth. An experienced therapist can be flexible and creative to help you get the most out of the experience. If you have any concerns, we certainly want you to bring them up to us. While it may be cliche to say, it is also true: in this time of uncertainty and global anxiety and changes, it is more important than ever to have access to competent counseling. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us!