Telehealth refers to providing health-related services, in this case psychotherapy services, remotely using telecommunications technologies, such as video conferencing or telephone. One of the benefits of telepsychology is that the client and clinician can engage in services without being in the same physical location. You must be located within the state of Indiana to avail this service. Telehealth, however, requires technical competence on both our parts to be helpful. Although there are benefits of telehealth, there are some differences between in-person psychotherapy and telepsychology, as well as some risks.
Risks to confidentiality.
Because telehealth sessions take place outside of the therapist’s private office, there is potential for other people to overhear sessions if you are not in a private place during the session. On my end, I will take reasonable steps to ensure your privacy. But it is important for you to make sure you find a private place for our session where you will not be interrupted. It is also important for you to protect the privacy of our session on your cell phone or other devices. You should participate in therapy only while in a room or area where other people are not present and cannot overhear the conversation.
Issues related to technology.
There are many ways that technology issues might impact telehealth. For example, technology may stop working during a session, other people might be able to get access to our private conversation, or stored data could be accessed by unauthorized people or companies.
Crisis management and intervention.
Usually, I will not engage in teletherapy with clients who are currently in a crisis situation requiring high levels of support and intervention. Before engaging in teletherapy, we will develop an emergency response plan to address potential crisis situations that may arise during the course of our teletherapy work.
Telehealth Therapy Recommendations
Listed below are some guidelines for how to get the most benefit as possible from these remote sessions during this time that in-person sessions are not being offered.
1. The most important thing is to have privacy. Please do everything possible to make sure you are in a private space where it is unlikely you will be heard or interrupted. You may need to ask others in your space to respect your privacy by doing things like turning on entertainment in another room or listening to something on headphones.
2. Try to make yourself comfortable, but not too comfortable. If you can, settle into a nice, comfortable chair. A workspace, if you have it, is best. Avoid lying in bed, on your TV-watching couch, sitting on the floor, or moving locations during the session. Try to arrange yourself in a session-like position.
3. Put a box of tissues next to where you will be. If you want, pour yourself a glass of water. But avoid having a snack or meal, leave that for either before or after the session.
4. Please be sure to dress as you would if we were meeting in the office.
5. Turn off or put to sleep all devices other than the one you are using to make the call, including watches, laptops, and other phones. If using a smartphone or computer, do your best to quit from all programs other than the one we are using and turn off all notifications if you can. It is best to leave your hands free by using headphones.
6. Try to leave yourself an additional 15-minutes both before and after the session. It is not a good idea to leave another remote meeting or call/ activity requiring focused attention (either work or play) and then immediately call in to start our session. You will need some time to get ready for the work we are about to do. Similarly, after the session is over, take some time before diving into your next activity. This will give time for the session to resonate before jumping back into whatever you have next.
7. Location is important. Please do your best to always meet from the same place during this period of time, although that may not always be possible. If you find yourself curious about where I am, please feel free to ask. I will do the same so I can imagine where you are.
I recognize that these guidelines make the remote sessions a little less convenient. But the additional benefit will be more than worth the effort. We can discuss any questions you may have during our first session.