By Julia Rubinshteyn, PhD.
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing all of us to change the way we do things. Now that social distancing has become a part of our vocabulary and has changed our daily lives, you may be wondering how that will affect therapy. Thankfully, technology allows us to use telehealth as a great way to connect with clients who are unable to get to the office.
Telehealth is a way to have therapy appointments using videoconferencing. It is similar toFaceTime or Skype, but it uses a platform that is secure in order to protect your privacy. Telehealth isn’t new—people have been using HIPAA compliant technology to conduct therapy sessions for years. It is a great way to access treatment when travelling to the therapy office isn’t an option.
How Does Telehealth Work?
A telehealth therapy appointment is very similar to an in-person appointment. All you need is access to a smart phone, tablet, or computer with a camera and microphone. Just like an in-person therapy session, an appointment is made for a specific date and time. When it is time for your appointment, you will check-in to your session by opening the videoconferencing link that willbe sent to you by your therapist. Make sure you have a private space to see your provider, as this will allow you to maintain your privacy and get the most out of your sessions.
The session will run just like a regular in-person session.You will be able to see and speak with your therapist and even see any handouts, forms, or questionnaires on the screen.
What Are the Benefits?
Convenience and Access. Telehealth has many benefits, including the ability to continue to work with your therapist without having to leave your home! During this time of social distancing, it allows you to remain connected with your therapist and receive the services you need without interruption. It is also a great option for those who do not have easy access to transportation or for individuals who may have physical disabilities making it difficult for them to be seen in the office. Telehealth is also a useful option when the weather is bad, when your car breaks down, or you can’t make it to the office for unexpected reasons.
Satisfaction with Treatment. Research studies have shown that clients seen through telehealth were just as satisfied with their therapy treatment as those who received in-person treatment and that overall, users of telehealth tend to be very satisfied (to see these studies, click here, here, and here).
Safety. Of utmost importance, telehealth is a great way to help keep everyone safe during COVID-19 while also making sure that your therapist can help to enhance your well being, your mental health, and your quality of life.
Just like any treatment, telehealth may not be a good option for everyone. If you are interested, be sure to ask your therapist if the option for telehealth is right for you.