By Cate Brandon, Psy.D.
During the current health crisis, telehealth is available to allow you to safely meet with your mental health provider. It may be a little different to meet with your therapist online, but many of our patients have found it to be just as effective as meeting in person.
WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO?
When you contact our office to schedule your appointment, our office staff can walk you through the very simple process. You will receive two emails: one with an informed consent to sign and one with instructions for beginning your telehealth session. Logging on is easy! It is not necessary to download anything to your computer. You simply log onto a website and wait for your therapist to begin the session. You can use a computer, smartphone or tablet to talk to your therapist.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS?
The platform our office uses for telehealth is confidential, secure and encrypted. Nothing is recorded. The therapist will be an office with a closed door, just like in an in-person session, so you can be assured the session is confidential. It is recommended that you also ensure your own confidentiality by meeting in a private space. There is always the possibility of technical glitches and disconnection, a potential problem that your therapist will address with you. At this point in time, most insurance companies are covering telehealth appointments. You may feel somewhat awkward or uncomfortable at first, as this is different from how you may have participated in counseling in the past. These feelings are normal, and typically improve over time. Please bring up any questions you have or discomfort you feel with your therapist, who will be happy to help you cope with and work through these feelings.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
The most obvious benefit is the protection from personal exposure to COVID-19. Our practice has adapted quickly to challenges presented during the pandemic in order to ensure that our patients can continue to receive quality care, while protecting their physical health and doing our part to prevent the spread of the virus. There are also benefits for those who have suddenly found themselves with children at home and without childcare options to allow them to attend face-to-face appointments. For those who are currently juggling many responsibilities, such as caring for children while trying to work from home, reducing the travel time required to come to a face-to-face appointment provides them with valuable extra minutes in the day. Finally, some patients have found value in being able to share aspects of their home environment with their therapist, whether that be increasing connection by sharing their pets or giving their therapist a real glimpse of their organizational difficulties in their office.
WHAT IF I AM STILL NOT COMFORTABLE DOING TELEHEALTH?
Please consult with your therapist or our staff if you have reservations about telehealth. They may be able to answer your questions or alleviate your worries. In addition, many of our therapists are providing the option of face-to-face therapy. If you choose to come to our office in person, rest assured that we are cleaning all surfaces multiple times per day, maintaining appropriate distancing in our waiting rooms and offices, wearing masks to protect our patients, and following all recommended procedures.